Here is the list of women who have won 2 or more Challenge Championships:
Evelyn Smith (3x)
Veronica Portillo (3x)
Cara Maria Sorbello
RONI MARTIN (Roni Chance).
Only 13 women in Challenge history have won more than 1 Challenge, and Roni Martin was the first ever to achieve the feat (Veronica accomplished this feat the same season as well). Not only that, Roni is the only female player in Challenge history to win more than 1 Championship (and never lose a season (2 for 2). Now, the Challenge was quite clearly a different landscape back then, and the stakes of winning weren’t as high or as competitive as they are today. Regardless, Roni was always a top physical player back in her day, she still looks phenomenal, and finally, we get to see how she does in a modern Challenge environment. It’s a new Reality TV world with an iconic old-school personality getting thrown into the mix.
Introducing Roni: Originally from Harlem, New York, Roni made her Reality TV debut at 18 on Road Rules Season 5: Northern Trail! Roni literally got swept away from her High School Prom to compete in her first Road Rules mission. In all honesty, Road Rules Northern Trail was not a great experience for Roni. She was an outsider on this cast for two reasons: the first being there was a cool kid clique on her cast, and the second being she was the only non-white person. Roni was young and went straight from her high school classroom to living in an RV with people she either couldn’t connect to or didn’t make an effort to get to know her. When looking through old bios, I saw old MTV summaries making a note of her as being known for blowing up on her Road Rules cast. They chose to leave out that she blew up because the cast, who had already ostracized her, decided to go out and party rather than accept the invitation to meet her family when they were in New York. It was legitimately a crazy rude thing to do as they could have gone to party after anyway.
When Roni returned to compete in the second season of the Challenge (Real World vs. Road Rules Challenge), she instantly connected and made a spark with Kefla Hare. Kefla was so grateful for Roni’s existence because he had a similar story to her; they were in the same RV as everyone else but felt like complete outsiders. Being able to have real conversations where they could relate to one another was huge, and it’s part of why representation on Reality TV is paramount. For many, Roni’s time on Road Rules reflected how they felt in the world. The world still has a long way to go, but it makes me happy that in 2022, Roni will be part of a female cast where 5 out of the 12 women are Black women, and 8 out of the 12 are minorities.
It is crucial to note that while Roni didn’t have the best social experience on Road Rules Northern Trail, she always stood out in the challenges and proved to be a killer physical competitor. Her physical prowess translated well onto her first season of the Challenge, where she was a strong performer on a Road Rules team that won 4 out of the 5 main missions for the season and the Handsome Reward (aka the Final).
We wouldn’t see Roni again for a few years until she returned for the Gauntlet 1, the first season in Challenge history with traditional eliminations. Eliminations were not divided by sex on the Gauntlet 1, meaning women could face men 1 v 1. For this reason, we saw most of the women getting thrown into eliminations as the men on their teams would label them as *weak*. Roni never saw an elimination. Why? Because she was a beast of a competitor who everyone enjoyed. Her shining moment as a competitor came this season during the “Rolling on a River” daily challenge in which players had to keep their balance on a moving log, and the team with the last person standing won. Roni outlasted everyone on both teams to win 10k for the Road Rules team and was one of only two females to win a lifesaver the entire season. She went on to win the Final with her team and become a 2x Champion.
It’s been 18 years since we’ve seen Roni compete. Since then she’s become a mom, and as always, I will vouch for mom strength. Based on the trailer for All Stars 3, it looks as though she has no rust and is ready to throw herself back into the heat of competition.
Player Vitals & Stats
Roni Chance: 43 Years Old, 2 Seasons, 2x Champion (RW vs RR, Gauntlet 1), 2x Finalist, 0–0 Elimination Record
Skills and Physical Strength:
Coming from a dance background, Roni has an excellent sense of balance and footwork. Coordination and body control often come in handy during heights or carnival game-esque challenges. Roni is also naturally athletic in that she runs well and has some good explosiveness/lower body strength. Not just lower body strength either, Roni has always had great forearms and biceps as well.
There’s always been a clear gap between those players who are fit and those who are natural athletes. Roni is a natural athlete who is fit. We still need to figure out how Roni does with swimming & eating challenges.
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: The social and political game will be difficult to navigate for Roni as she enters the game with no connections of substance. Based on the preseason interviews, you can tell that Roni knows she will be going into an elimination early in the season as it will be so easy for all these strangers to throw her name out without any worry. For Roni to have any chance of thriving politically, she needs to perform physically. Roni needs to look like an asset that the men want to run a Final with and a threat nobody wants to go head to head against.
I am not sure what Roni’s puzzle game is like; she is an intelligent woman.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: Roni has never seen an elimination. Neither had Ayanna before All Stars 2, and then we saw her put her raw athleticism to good use in that arena. Similarly, Roni is a great natural athlete, and part of that never leaves you. So even though she hasn’t seen one, knowing how competitive she is has me feeling good about Roni’s chances in most eliminations. Where I worry about Roni is in the size-based headbanger type elimination. While Roni is fiery, she’s also a bit petite, and sometimes it might just come down to “who is bigger?”
Can Roni win? I’m saying no because she will likely get thrown into multiple eliminations due to her lack of social connections, and she’s never seen anything quite like a modern Challenge Final. Although, if someone was going to pull out a surprise win, Roni’s athletic pedigree and experience on the show are good things to bet on. Based on the trailer for this season, I will say that I’m expecting a decent showing from Roni.