Hang Tough is an event played in several incarnations of the television series Gladiators. In this event, a contender and Gladiator engage in what is often described as 'a game of aerial chess' on a grid of rings hanging from the ceiling.
One Gladiator faces one contender, starting on platforms on the opposite end of the grid and on the whistle swing out onto the course, hanging some ten feet in the air. The contender has 60 seconds to make their way across the grid of rings to the Gladiators platform, scoring 10 points should they make it across. Should the contender be in the 'scoring zone' (the half of the grid nearest the Gladiators platform) by the end of the 60 seconds then they receive 5 points.
The Gladiator must attempt to stop the contender from making it to their platform, either by blocking the contenders path or by removing them from the rings.
Neither participant is allowed to kick their opponent, although the Gladiator is allowed to grab the contender with their legs in order to perform a 'scissor lock' to bring them down. Gladiators are forbidden from performing head locks to bring contenders off the rings and will be disqualified should they do so.
Neither participant is allowed to stay on their starting platform for longer than 5 seconds after the opening whistle and are not allowed to stay on the same set of rings for more than 10 seconds, the only exception being for the contender if the Gladiator is blocking their path. Neither participant is allowed to head back to their own platform and will be disqualified should they do so.
Contenders must make it fully across to the Gladiators platform, letting go of the rings in order to claim 10 points. Contenders will only receive 5 points if they are in the scoring zone on the final whistle, if the contender has entered the scoring zone but then left it at the time of the final whistle then they do not receive any points.
The denotion of the 'scoring zone' differs across territories. Some countries have all rings in the scoring zone painted a different colour whilst others just mark the half way line, and still others use different colored straps to suspend rings that mark the scoring zone, while all the rings are the same color. In the original American series, both platforms had crash mats on.
In the 2008 revivals, Hang Tough is played over water in both the US and UK, which is deemed much safer given the nature of some of the falls that occur in this event. Prior to this, Hang Tough was a common cause for contender injuries.
Years active: 1990-1996, 2008-
Hang Tough first appeared in the second (1990) series of the original run. One of the standing rules in the initil run that was not adopted in other incarnations or the 2008 revival was that the Gladiator was not allowed to remove the contender by grabbing onto their clothes.
Initially 5 points were awarded for staying on the rings for the full time allocation, and 7 should a contender reach the scoring zone. Should a cameraman impede the progress of a contender and stop them from reaching the Gladiators platform, then 10 points would be awarded.
In the first series of the 2008 revival, the Hang Tough grid was a lot smaller to fit over the pool and the scoring zone was not present with contenders receiving 5 points for staying on any part of the course until the end. In the second series of the 2008 revival, the pool (and therefore the Hang Tough course) was enlarged and the scoring zone reinstated.
Years active: 1992-1999, 2008-
Hang Tough was one of the few events to appear through all eight series of the initial UK run, appearing in the very first and last episodes.
In 1992, the scoring zone was denoted by a single line of blue rings. These were changed to red for the 1993 series and in 1997, the entire scoring zone was painted red.
In 1995, the event gained its own theme, a recording of 'Hey rock & roll' by Showaddywaddy.
A contender loss in this event was marked by the music 'Another one bites the dust' by Queen.
In the 2008 revival, the coure was shortened and played over a pool.
Years active: 1995-1997, 2008-
Hang Tough first appeared in the first series of Australian Gladiators and thus far is the only event to have claimed a serious injury to a Gladiator when Blade injured herself in 1997. The injury was deemed so bad that it was not televised.
In the original Australian series, the game was played with the rings spanning the arena floor with the Gladiators platform facing against The Wall, whereas in the 2008 version, the rings are suspended at the far end of the arena, with the platforms perpendicular to The Wall. When it was first played in 2008, a challenger cracked her rib after being pulled down by Nitro. In the end, she retired hurt and was replaced by another challenger. Also, the rings are closer to each other so that both the challenger and Gladiator can easily reach them.