By Felix Rodriguez, Staff Writer
2x Iraqi War Vet Eddie Wittern serving a different tour of duty versus gender discrimination
FT. HOOD, TX – Edward Anthony Wittern is a trailblazer. The 30 year old from Orange, California has been involved in Judo and wrestling since he was six years old, he began fighting in amateur MMA when the fights were unsanctioned and the sport was known as “No Holds-Barred” beginning in 2000 and the army veteran has served two combat tours in Iraq, which included a stint, in limited capacity, with a Special Forces unit. Suffice it to say, the man fighting out of Killeen, Texas is no joke.
Eddie Wittern (Amateur, 2-0) was in preparations for his third official amateur match at Belts of Honorious’ September 7th event, Austin Championship, but Nael Chavez, the event promoter, pulled him off the card after his opponent was forced to bow out due to injury and no suitable replacement could be found. Rather than sit idly until another opportunity to compete materialized Wittern decided to take on a different fight. Eddie’s newest battle is against gender discrimination in a field notorious for its lack of male representation. This is the story of Eddie Wittern’s brave journey into the uncharted realm of ring boys; he is a pioneer, forging a path for other men so that they don’t have to; this is his RingBoyage.
TXMMA Interview – Eddie Wittern (Austin Championship)
TXMMA: Why did you decide to become a Ring Boy?
EW: I was supposed to fight on the 7 September card but about a month out my Opponent got hurt and that was that. I’ll be looking to take a fight after the IBJJF NoGi World Championships in November. Sad as it is that I’m not fighting for another belt I’ll Still be their supporting the card by being one of the First Ever Ring Boys for the Female fighters. Nael Chavez asked me what I thought about it, I told him I’d think about it. I asked River Wrath and my good friend Jason Norwood what they thought and they were overwhelmingly for it so I decided I would do it.
TXMMA: How do you feel about the actual practice of having ring girls, do you think it is dated and do you believe having ringboys is at the very least an equalizer for both genders?
EW: Well as far as ring girls go I understand that it’s mainly for the crowd, honestly whenever I’ve fought I was too busy to notice the Ring girls. I think that it’s going to be fun. I believe in equality and personally don’t have a problem with other guys being ring boys. I look forward to it and think it’s going to be fun for everyone.
TXMMA: You’re known for grappling and fighting in hot pink booty shorts, can we expect to see that nefarious piece of spandex in the Belts of Honorious cage when you perform your ringboy duties?
EW: I wear hot pink shorts when I fight for Breast Cancer Awareness, I’ve lost 3 members of my family and my coach lost his mother to breast cancer. Personally it’s a great conversation starter, a large, tan & tattooed man running roughshod over people for breast cancer awareness -if nothing else I’ll get they’re attention. Although not all Texans are ready for my kind of jelly I’ll gladly wear them if they ask me too, but I think they’ll have something, maybe not as pink and hot, ready for us to wear instead.
TXMMA: What sort of preparation goes into becoming a ringboy?
EW: Honestly I just kept doing my fight camp just as if I was going to be on the card, the only real difference is I added more cardio and a cleaner diet. There is an extra twerking routine and an intermediate level crumping class thrown into my schedule for good measure. Basically, my approach to preparing for this fight and life’s challenges in general is if you don’t leave those gym walls steamy you’re not looking dreamy.
TXMMA: Is there an equivalent to a fight camp for ringboys and if so how many reps of walking around the cage holding the cardboard are you doing per day to make sure you perform at an optimum level come fight night?
EW: I’m not sure about an equivalent camp for professional ring people but I know I’m definitely working it into my daily conditioning. I’m gonna be ready to hold that cardboard up with the right number during each round and walk around the cage in a perfect circle.
TXMMA: Let’s talk about the mental game involved in this activity; does a ringboy need thick skin or can you get by with a nice tan in this profession?
EW: The naysayers can choke on their haterade. I’m sure I’ll receive mixed reactions from the crowd but honestly there is no reason for anyone to be uptight. This is about the fighters. I usually keep a nice tan and with the usual level of foul language tossed around the gym and during cross fit I’m pretty sure I’ll have the mental game down.
TXMMA: How are you preparing for the mental aspect of the ringboy game? Are your coaches yelling vulgar propositions to condition you for the inevitable catcalls of the fans in attendance?
EW: I’m honestly looking forward to the catcalls and vulgar propositions from the crowd; I plan to play it up as much as I can. Maybe even meet some lucky lady.
TXMMA: Has it dawned on you yet that you could be the male Arianny Celeste or Shandella?
EW: Wow, no but that would be a lot of fun and I mean at least I’d be sitting next to her at fights right lol.
TXMMA: What advice would you give to other ringboy hopefuls looking to break into this business?
EW: My advice to other hopeful ring boys is to diversify their skill sets. I, for example, enjoy taking part in musicals, community-theater and interpretive dance. Outside of personal enrichment opportunities I would say the most important thing for aspiring ringboys is to hit the crunches and the tanning bed every day. A six Pack and a great tan may not be everything but it will certainly help you meet girls.
TXMMA: Is it fair to say that you are a badass?
EW: Not in the classical Chuck Norris beasting communism sense, no. I’d never call my self a badass; I consider myself as a Viking who is confident enough to fight in Pink vale Tudos.
TXMMA: Thank you for your time, is there anything else you’d like to add?
EW: I’d like to say thanks to BOH for allowing me to break ground in this and to TXMMA for giving me an opportunity to be heard as the voice of ringboyism.