Outside of the ropes: Carla Jade on ring card girls
In the latest of our series examining key and often unheralded figures from behind the scenes in boxing, Ezio Prapotnich talks to Carla Jade (on the right of the image) about the sometimes controversial role of the ring card girl...
“No one should have the right to interfere with freedom of choice in any line of work and regardless of sex. Whatever the logic or moral behind it, to forbid women from being ring girls is the same as to refuse to allow them to be soldiers, police agents or fighters. There is nothing dangerous or derogatory about what we do. The only result of that would be to deprive mothers or students of an extra source of income."
Director of Finesse Models agency and 'ring card girl' Carla Jade has a very clear message for detractors who label her profession as a form of sexual exploitation.
Anyone who has the guts to step in a ring deserves respect. A former learning support teacher, Carla became a model by accident and a ring girl by choice, due to an instinctive passion for boxing that goes back to her childhood. In chasing this passion, she discovered opportunities to apply her organisational skills to what she loved and has built a solid business operating all over the UK and Europe.
In this interview, she explains to Boxing Monthly that there is way more than meet the eye in terms of what 'ring card girls' do.
BM: First of all, can you provide in your own words your job description and its objectives?
CJ: My agency is hired by promoters to provide ring girls to feature in their shows. There are two objectives to our work; the main one is obviously to let the public, boxers and officials know what is the next round of the fight by showing the card with the number on all four sides of the ring. The second, which is just as important, is to have a positive interaction with the crowd while doing it.
BM: What was your background prior to becoming a ring girl and how did you get into this line of business?
CJ: I am originally from Richmond in Surrey but moved to Milton Keynes around 2000. I used to work as a support teacher and had a habit of posting pictures of myself on social media. Literally within a week after I opened an Instagram account, I started receiving messages from modelling agencies offering photo shoots. The idea of modelling had never crossed my mind before. I always watched boxing so I started pursuing a ring girl role. I had to start from White Collar events and then moved to small hall shows. I did that for a bit and built a network within the circuit while observing in the process the organisational flaws of the agencies I was working for. That gave me the idea of starting my own and it picked up very quickly.
BM: Where does your interest in boxing stem from? And is it a necessary requirement in order to do your job?
CJ: I don’t really have a historical knowledge of the game. I remember just being naturally fascinated and attracted by it as a kid when it showed on TV. My parents are not into it and my father was actually shocked by my interest. I picked it up as fitness training and practised it for years way before I became involved in it professionally. It is not a mandatory requirement for ring girls to have a passion for boxing but it surely enhances the enjoyment of the experience if you do.
BM: What are the requirements of the role, then? And does it take something extra as opposed to a fashion show?
CJ: It takes more than just looks. Smiling while they take a photo of you is easy. To be a ring girl you need confidence, presence and personality. Anyone can lift a card over their heads, the difference is in the way you interact with the crowd. You need to look them in the eyes and make everyone feel welcome. That means outside of the ring as well. People might ask you for a picture or ask questions about your job and you shouldn’t turn them down or act annoyed. It takes a sociable person with people skills.
BM: Do you offer a standard type of service or is it tailor made according to the promoter?
CJ: It depends from the size of the venue and the level of the fights, particularly if they are televised or not. But, the only variable factor is the number of girls required. You never have one girl doing more than one round in a row. We always bring our uniforms, as we have had issues in the past with the ones provided, whether they were the wrong size or number. Merely as a precaution, I always bring my own cards although they are usually provided by the promoter or the sponsor so they have their logo on them for promotional purposes. For some shows, we are required to attend the weigh-in as well.
BM: On the night, do you have any interaction with the British Boxing Board of Control designated whip, who deals with some of the logistics and choreographical aspects of the event?
CJ: No, we deal with the client exclusively. Any interaction with the board would happen through the promoter.
BM: What are the average demographics of your employees? And is it a full-time career?
CJ: There is no age limit other than being over 18 - the demographics tend to be between 19 and 25 years old. It is not a full-time occupation by nature as shows fall mainly on the weekend, hence you can’t work more than once or twice per week. Women after 25 tend to settle in a full-time occupation. This job is suitable for students or anyone who has a stable income but could do with extra cash.
BM: Anything else you would like to share?
CJ: It takes guts to stand under the lights and face a crowd that is not there for you but for the show. I have lots of appreciation and respect for any woman in our business.
And so should we who sit on the comfortable side of the ropes.
You can check out Carla’s website here:
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