The ring announcer

Perry Cale speaks to Neos Kosmos about life as one of Australia's leading ring announcers

A typical weekend for professional boxing, wrestling, kickboxing and Muay Thai ring announcer, Perry Cale, involves a hectic schedule of travelling interstate and overseas for shows, before returning home to his wife and four children in Melbourne’s west.

My wife always said to me ‘baby, one day you’ll see your name up in lights,’ and I said ‘yeah right’.

Cale, who started working as a boxing ring announcer back in 1999, initially had gigs once every two or three months but by 2005 he was working every three to four weeks.

“Now I’m pretty much away every single weekend for two or three shows because kickboxing, Muay Thai and MMA, can have shows from Thursday through to Sunday…generally I do a minimum of two shows a weekend” he says.

“I’m very lucky because I’m one of the only ring announcers that gets flown all over the country, as well as to New Zealand, China, Canada, Macau and Singapore,” he says.

As a teenager, friends always encouraged Cale to pursue professional ring announcing, but he dismissed them.

“I remember in my late teens and early 20s I’d go out drinking with my friends and I’d impersonate Bruce and Michael Buffer, the guys from ‘Let’s get ready to rumble’ and my friends were always encouraging me and telling me I should do it professionally, but I always said I was happy doing what I was doing,” he says.

Around twelve years ago, after returning from working as a marketing consultant for Haircare International in the Persian Gulf, Cale made his debut, somewhat inadvertently.

“I had a friend who ran an Australian wrestling company, which was at the old Dragonfly restaurant. Obviously, with Australian wrestling, if you get 140 people at a show they say it’s a sell-out; you’ve got a 68 kilo guy in spandex going ‘this is a great audience’, but I enjoyed the wrestling and my friend said ‘you should get in there’.

“He told me his ring announcer hadn’t shown up and I needed to jump in; obviously I found out later on that he’d planned it all,” Cale says.

Months later Cale met the president of the Victorian Amateur Boxing League, Jim Nomikos, who immediately liked his voice and invited him to MC at the Victorian Amateur Boxing matches.

“I started off from there and then I started getting noticed by a lot of people,” Cale says, which lead to people involved in Muay Thai and kickboxing also asking him to MC their shows.

Cale, who has never had any formal voice training, says he was just a “typical little smart arse Greek kid” who impersonated his uncles, aunties, cousins and grandparents before moving onto impersonating public personas like Jeff Kennett and John Howard.

Cale’s first imitation victim was 80s game show host, Rob Brough from Family Feud, whom he came face-to-face with a few years back.

“I actually met Rob Brough at a show about three years ago and I said ‘Rob, you were the first impersonation I ever did’ and he said ‘well why don’t you give me something to talk about?'”Cale tells.

Initially apprehensive, Cale performed his impression for Rob Brough, insisting that imitation is the highest form of flattery.

“After I did it he looked me dead in the eye, came straight up to me and I thought ‘he’s going to deck me here’ and he said ‘Perry, without a shadow of a doubt mate that’s one of the best f***ing impersonations I’ve ever heard in my life, f***ing keep it up, well done’. I dodged a bullet there! I was quite happy about that,” Cale says.

Also working for Joy FM and Fox Sports, Cale is the understudy for the program announcer on Channel Nine and holds the title of official ring announcer for Main Event.

“I always enjoyed this line of work, but I didn’t take it seriously until towards the end of 2004. I was told I had this natural talent, which I was very lucky to have,” he says.

“My wife always said to me ‘baby, one day you’ll see your name up in lights,’ and I said ‘yeah right’. It’s great if you can almost make a career out of something that’s your hobby, but I’m never one to rest on my laurels. You’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to provide for your family. I don’t have that diva mentality,” he says.

uggling these gigs alongside his job as a National Advertising Sales manager for Blitz Publications, Cale attributes his success to constant development and criticism.

“I read, I’m a big observer, I’ve got a wife and an 11 year old son who sit there and watch every show and say ‘that’s s**t, that’s horrible, leave that in’ and it’s always about continuous improvement,” he says.

Prior to this Cale worked as a call centre manager for about nine years for Independent Distillers, which made and sold Vodka Cruisers, Woodstock and Pulse.

“Unfortunately Kevin 07 and his alco pop tax killed the industry so we all received retrenchment packages back in 2008. But I was very fortunate that I got a good payout and within about ten days I got a phone call to do the Contender America television series,” Cale says.

He was flown to Singapore to film and then to Las Vegas, Nevada for the final. Cale also continues to work on the Contender Asia series, which has previously been screened in over 224 countries.

“That was probably the highlight. I did a live fight show in front of 40,000 people,” Cale says.

Living in Perth until age 16 before moving to Melbourne, Cale, whose father is from Corinth and whose mother is from Patra, is still officially Perry Calatzis, a name he tried to use initially but which fell flat on confused audiences.

“I’m still Perry Calatzis, my kids are all Calatzsis, Cale is just my stage name, or as my older brother says my porn name,” he jokes.

On September 15 Cale is geared up for Anthony Mundine’s fight.

He will be in Melbourne on October 17 at Moonee Valley racecourse for the Muy Thai Contender Asia rematch final.

He will be jetting overseas at the end of the year for TV series ‘Contender Asia 2’.

“I am pretty busy, but I love what I do. At the end of the day I’m still a fan. I’ve got the best seat in the house and I love interacting with the fighters,” he says.