Ring girls to trade blows
Megan Pillinger, Maddison Martino, Jess Smith and Ashleigh Munro-Smith. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

They were formerly the beauties who would signal the start of a new boxing round but this year four ex-ring girls will instead don gloves and headgear to fight in the Royal Queensbury Challenge themselves.

After sitting on the sidelines for several years, Megan Pillinger, Maddison Martino, Jess Smith and Ashleigh Munro-Smith all longed to take their involvement to the next level and step into the ring in a different capacity at the premier white-collar boxing event.

Smith told Access All Areas she had only just mustered the courage to sign up as a contestant.

"I think every year I've done it I have said 'I am going to do it next year', and hadn't," the blonde beauty admitted. "This year was about time to make the commitment and stop chickening out. It's exciting and has been a good challenge."

The reality of what they had taken on soon sank in for the new recruits when they began the gruelling 10-week training crash course, which sees them head to sparring sessions at Claremont boxing gym the Hurt Locker up to six times a week.

Pillinger said the intense regime gave her a new-found appreciation for the sport of boxing.

"I had done a lot of boxercise before but I didn't realise how technical it was and I have really struggled," she said.

The four women, who are also all former Miss Universe WA contestants, are well aware that they may leave their fights with a bruise or two but said they won't be precious about their looks when they step into the ring.

"When we started sparring, you don't see the punch coming but it really hurts, even with the headgear," Pillinger said.

Smith added: "There have been a couple of black eyes and blood noses. It is getting intense but I think the idea is just don't get hit and then you'll be OK."

The event is at Crown Perth's grand ballroom on Friday and benefits children's charity ToyBox International.

The West Australian

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