Entertainment

MJW back at Spartan

By Richard Johnson
Observer senior reporter

Monday, May 22, 2017

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THE franchise to stage the Miss Jamaica World (MJW) beauty pageant has returned to St Andrew-based Spartan Health Club. This organisation, headed by Mickey Haughton-James, had relinquished the rights to the local contest in 2013, after nearly 40 years.Between 2013 and 2016, the competition was staged by Fusion Consultants Limited, which was helmed by Laura Butler, a former Miss Jamaica finalist and Miss Spartan Body Beautiful. Under Butler, queens Gina Hargitay (2013); Laurie Ann Chin (2014); Dr Saneeta Myrie (2015) and reigning queen Ashlie White Barrett, were Jamaica's representatives to the Miss World contest.

Speaking to the Jamaica Observer, Haughton-James noted that the decision to take back the pageant was reached after Butler migrated late last year.

“Laura got married and now resides in the US. She does travel back and forth for work related to her company. She has decided that this will not afford her time to stage the pageant and manage the affairs of the reigning queen. She therefore relinquished the franchise and Spartan Health Club has agreed to stage the 2017 event. A decision on whether to continue staging the pageants will be taken at a later date,” he said.

Spartan first became associated with the pageant back in 1976 when it was asked by the Miss World Organisation to send then gym instructor Cindy Breakspeare to that contest, which she would go on to win and become Jamaica's second title holder. Spartan again tasted success in 1993 when Lisa Hanna won the Miss World title in Sun City, South Africa. Spartan created an enviable track record at this international contest, copping a number of runners-up and top 10 finalists, as well as a number of winners of the Caribbean Queen of Beauty title.

Butler's stint was not without success as two of her four charges — Hargitay and Myrie — finished in the top 10. Myrie was a top- five finisher. Under her watch, the pageant also moved its coronation show to Montego Bay in St James.

There were, however, several criticisms of Butler's handing of the franchise. In 2015, supporters of Myrie took to social media to air their concerns. In response, she accused friends of the queen of meddling.

Haughton-James used the pageant's website to make what was being speculated in pageant circles official. He announced that former contestant, Kandi King has been appointed pageant director. King, who finished among the top finalists in 2009, is also founder of Xaymaca, the newest, local carnival costume band. She is also a part-time television presenter.

He also stated that one of the new features this year is the re-introduction of the Miss Kingston and St Andrew contest, which will be used to feed contestants into the national pageant.

The 2017 Miss Jamaica World winner will be crowned on September 9.

Miss World is the oldest- running international beauty pageant. It was created in the United Kingdom by Eric Morley in 1951.

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