The ring-girls perspective: An interview

Glamorous, attractive and full of energy. These are the factors that usually shine out from those girls who traverse the octagons and cages of the world to walk out fighters, hold ring cards and generally bring some beauty to the world of combat sports.

The North East offers up some of the most beautiful ring-girls on the planet. The UFC has England many a time and brought with it their touted Arianny Celeste, but we North-eastern locals have our own bombshells to be proud of.

In a society where feminism is fighting for gender equality, the role of a ring-girl may be called into question. However, is it not also fully a girls right to do as she pleases. They bring welcome relief from the sometimes solemn nature of fighting and in the years Boxing, MMA and Muay Thai have been around, have become an institution.

MMAnewcastle caught up with one of the North East’s most prominent ring-girls, 22 year old Sarah Thompson. (Otherwise known as Saz ‘Bambina’ Thompson) who has made the walk to the cage more times than most, having worked every one of Dale Percival’s show ‘Made4thecage.’ Sarah, who hails from Sunderland has also came third in the UK ring girl of the year competition and has been involved in promotion.


Photograph courtesy of Angy Ellis

We asked Saz about her experiences working for the North East’s biggest show and what she loves most about the job.

What made you want to become a ring girl? I had never thought much of it until my mam saw a competition for a chance to ring girl at Frank Maloney’s boxing event televised on sky sports. I had just lost a lot of weight around that time and had a new found confidence, so I went for the audition and was one of the lucky 3 girls chosen.

Did you know about MMA before working in the industry? Either way, what do you think of MMA as a sport? I had only known of boxing, it wasn’t until joining the made4thecage team that I found out more about the other disciplines that makes up the combat sport as a whole. I do feel it has a bad reputation however I’ve never seen such good sportsmanship within a sport than I have with MMA. Every event I have attended fighters are fully focused and professional. Even when a guy looses he still remains professional and uses the loss as something to learn and work harder from which I really commend. It’s an exciting sport to watch and I think it deserves a lot more credit because a lot of hard work and dedication goes on behind the scenes.

What’s your favourite thing about working a show? Seeing everything come together is great as it takes a lot of preparation for a show. I love to see all the fighters getting pumped and the crowd warming up its an amazing atmosphere to be around.

When you’re on your way to the cage and the lights and eyes are on you, what’s going through your mind? It’s a surreal feeling. All that l think of is to keep smiling and not to trip over! It’s a good buzz that’s difficult to put into words.

I know you’re involved in business, but have you ever done anything else in the MMA world? Have you ever wanted to? I promoted Ross Pearson and his seminars at the mixed martial arts show in Birmingham back in 2011, it was a great experience. That was the time I got my first ever MMA rash guard and tried learning a few techniques myself. It wasn’t until then I fully appreciated what fighters do, its a lot harder than it looks! I soon discovered I preferred walking around the cage than fighting in it. So since then I entered UK ring girl of the year, I won my place in the finals after an initial voting round with thanks to everyone who supported me. I then came 3rd place in the full competition. I plan to go back again next year and win 1st.

Do you have any favourite local fighters? I support them all. It’s great to know so many have made it to fight on the UFC. It just shows how much talent is in the north east. However I have to mention Colin ‘freakshow’ fletcher! I think he’s great! A real down to earth talented guy with a fantastic look! He’s the only clown I’m not afraid of

What’s been the best memory thus far when working as a ring-girl? I remember the first ever show I did with made4thecage 3 years ago in a small workman’s club. Ill never forget that night! Seeing the progress the show has made is unreal. We are now reaching our 13th show that has an amazing fight card and also we’re introducing an additional event for stand up fighters to showcase their skills in the ring (k1ngs of glory.) I’m so happy to play a part on the journey to greater things!

Finally, What are your plans for the future? My main plan is to keep on working to achieve the fitness body I’ve dreamed of! I’ve been spending most of my time over the last month at fitness2000. Being in the industry really inspires you to keep progressing and gives you the motivation to better yourself. I have plans to get as much involvement and exposure in the industry that I can. I absolutely love the sport and I’m looking forward to what the new year brings.

MMAnewcastle would like to thank Sarah for her time and honest answers. Her enthusiasm for the sport coupled with her professional attitude to a job that can sometimes be extremely difficult. (Would you walk around for 5 hours without many clothes? It takes some guts) We wish her the best of luck in the next UK ring girl of the year competition and hope she can bring the title back home to the North East.

Follow Sarah on twitter @sazbambina

Written by Craig Thomas Boyle

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