After five years of enduring tepid ski-town nightlife, Pete Giannini had it up to his goggles with bad entertainment. "All we ever had, says the Crested Butte bartender, "were these shitty hippie jam bands—night after night after night. People were hungry for something different. Something, say, involving forehead gashes, spit buckets, and nearly naked ladies.
Last December, Giannini became the Don King of CB, promoting the town's first-ever fight night. The Denver-based company Knockout Events provided the regulation ring, equipment, and referees; Giannini brought in the fighters. Anyone was eligible, and more than two dozen aspiring pugilists showed up to pummel their neighbors in bouts consisting of three one-minute rounds. Between bells, midriff-baring women paced the ring to vie for the title of Round-Card Girl and brought the crowd alive.
"The boxing skills were horrible, says Giannini. "Usually it was just two guys swinging wildly. But despite the pathetic brawling, he had no problem covering the bills. Roughly 550 paying spectators showed up—more than one third of the 1,500-person town—and were rewarded with several knockouts and even a mixed-gender fight that pitted a guy against his ex-girlfriend. (She won; he wisely didn't throw punches.)
Since December Giannini has hosted three more fight nights and Knockout Events has taken its equipment to Aspen, Steamboat, and Vail. The success is no surprise to the fledgling promoter: "Americans have always loved their sex and violence, he says. "I just had to find a way to put the two together.