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Professional pillow fighting … sleeper holds allowed!

January 24, 2007

If all-women roller derby can make a comeback as a legit sport, why not pillow fighting?

pillowfighters (Reuters)The kid past-time once reserved for college sororities (at least, those on film) has now grown-up and gotten more violent with the creation of the Toronto-based Pillow Fight League, which just made its New York City debut to a sell-out crowd.

A story by Neil Janowitz on ESPN’s Page 2 clued me in to this new female sports craze, which takes the best elements of pro wrestling, boxing, ultimate fighting (mixed-martial-arts), and roller derby and throws it all together on a wrestling mat and arms it with down-feather pillows.

From Janowitz:

I had the good fortune and general worldly awareness to attend the second night’s festivities, and what I saw on Saturday was arguably the biggest, rowdiest, most thrilling pillow-fighting league event to ever take place . It may have been a glimpse of the future of sports, as well.

This must be what Armageddon is like in Hugh Heffner’s mind.

More about the league after the jump…

A look at the 3-year-old league’s official Web site has the rules rundown in brief:

  • Women Fighters Only. No Exceptions.
  • Fights have a five minute time limit and are won via pinfall, surrender, or referee stoppage. If a fight ends at the time limit with no winner, a winner is declared by a three-judge committee. (Where can I be a judge?)
  • Punching, leg drops, clotheslines, submission holds, and other moves are allowed as long as a pillow is used to execute the attack. (Submission holds?!? I think the “sleeper hold” is VERY appropriate here!)
  • Preventing an opponents’ pillow strike by holding her pillow results in a warning from the referee. Judges may choose to include these warnings as part of their judging criteria if a fight goes the distance.
  • No eye-gouging, biting, scratching, hair pulling, or low blows
  • No rude, lewd, or suggestive behavior. (what are you suggesting?)
  • Loading a pillow with a foreign object such as a brick is strictly forbidden. (Remember when the WCW called them “international objects?”)

pillowfighters (Reuters)An ABC News article tells how league founder Stacey Case, a musician and t-shirt maker, came up with the idea as he watched a Toronto-area burlesque group hold a pillow fight between music sets at a New Year’s Eve party.

Case was there for a music gig, and watched as the crowd began to join the battles. He was shocked by people’s willingness, especially women, to partake in the pillow fight, and found a new career path.

Soon, Case and his friends began placing ads in newspapers, posting fliers around their neighborhood, and booking events at the bars lining Toronto’s College Street bar district.

They now have 14 full-time “professional” pillow fighters, a burgeoning fan base — a PFL event easily attracts an audience of 500 — and aspirations of turning the attraction into more than a Toronto-based phenomenon.

With this month’s PFL international tour and championship match on Jan. 19, Bellum hopes Americans will embrace professional pillow fighting like Canadians have.

“We’re having a lot of fun. We don’t want to stop,” she said, “and we want the rest of the world in on it.”

The group is now on tour in the U.S., and is heading to Austin, Texas to perform at SXSW (South by Southwest, a media and music festival) — which is also home of one of the most-popular groups in the women’s roller derby revival, the TXRD.

Very interesting (and profitable) idea. It’ll be interesting to see if “local leagues” start up, like roller derby has.

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