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Toughman Contest kicks off tonight

Local fighters competing

HUNTINGTON — The Toughman Contest has been a staple in West Virginia and throughout the Tri-State for a long time, and tonight it is kicking off at 7:30 p.m. at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

“This is the 36th year of the Toughman Contest and the 27th year of the event in Huntington,” Jerry Thomas, Toughman Contest promoter, said. “It’s been going on for a while, but it keeps getting bigger and bigger every year.”

Thomas has been the event’s promoter for all 36 years.

The contest is a two-day single-elimination boxing tournament open to everyone between the ages of 18 and 39 and features three one-minute rounds and a one-minute resting period between rounds. There are four weight classes for both men and women; lightweight (up to 139 pounds), middleweight (140-159 pounds), light heavyweight (160-184 pounds) and heavyweight (185-400 pounds).

Scoring is done on the 10-point must system, where the winner of a round receives a 10 and the loser a lesser total, with a three-knockdown rule and standing eight count in effect.

“Over 30,000 fighters have participated in the Toughman over the years,” Thomas said. “Every year we have really good competition and it seems to get better and better.”

Fighters can fight in the contest up to three times and win twice, but the fighters are predominantly new each year, he said.

“Dozens of fighters from Toughman have ended up turning pro,” Thomas said. “Some in cage fighting and MMA, but mostly in boxing.”

Past Toughman fighters are trainers for the contest in Huntington, including most notably Nikki Eplion Bryant, who turned pro and fought against Laila Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter.

Local fighters in the heavyweight division include Christopher Akers, 24, Eugene Aldridge, 29, and Brent Ervin, 28, of Irontonm and Justin Landreth, 29, and Alex Waddle, 25, of South Point. Brandon Barnett, 27, of South Point, will fight in the light heavyweight division and Dillon Saxton, 22, of South Point, and Tyler Ward, 20, of Proctorville, will compete in the middleweight division.

Local fighters fighting in the lightweight division include Tony Bell, 31, Thomas Ghee, 18, and Travis Stormes, 30, of Ironton, Jay Cremeans, 34, and Daniel Dearing, 29, of Proctorville, Dustin Towson, 19, and Bobby Trout, 22, of South Point, Steward Sherman, 23, of Chesapeake, and Ronald Harrison, 24, of Coal Grove.

Local women fighting include Christina Hesse, 25, of Ironton, and Scarlett Whitley, 27, of South Point, competing in the women’s lightweight division.

Tickets for the event are $17 for general admission, $22 for reserved ringside and $32 for VIP ringside. Additional service fees may apply. More information about the Tough Man Contest can be found at www.wvtoughman.com.