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Toughman kicks off tonight

HUNTINGTON W.Va. — Two-hundred fighters from around the Tri-State will compete in the annual West Virginia Toughman Contest beginning tonight and continuing through Saturday at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

The Toughman Contest has taken place in West Virginia for 37 years with promotor Jerry Thomas, of West Virginia Sports Promotions, Inc., producing the event each year. However, this is only the 28th year Huntington has hosted the contest.

“It’s a big event and this year will be the biggest ever,” Thomas said.

Besides the fights of all of the competing fighters, a pro fight is slated for Saturday featuring two-time Huntington Toughman champion Melvin Russell, of Greenup, Kentucky, and Orion Bolds, of Akron.

“This year we’ve added more trainers and staff to make sure the fighters are taken care of,” Thomas said. “We haven’t made a lot of big changes over the years because it’s been very successful. But we’ve made a lot of tweaks and work hard in always trying to update.”

Sponsors for this year’s Toughman include Coors Light, Blue Moon, 84 Lumber, Dutch Miller Automotive, the United States Marine Corps., WTCR, WAMX, Suddenlink Media and Network West Virginia. The Huntington Holiday Inn and Suites is also serving as the host hotel.

Tickets for the event can be purchased at Big Sandy Superstore Arena for $20 for general admission, $25 for reserved seating and $35 for VIP ringside. All city and state taxes and the arena’s $3 per ticket facility fee are already included in ticket pricing.

Gates open at 6:30 p.m. with the action beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday starting with the presentation of the colors by the United States Marine Corps. and singing of the national anthem.

From Huntington, the Toughman Contest will move through West Virginia with stops in Short Gap Jan. 15 and 16, Clarksburg Jan. 29 and 30, Parkersburg Feb. 5 and 6, Martinsburg Feb. 19 and 20, Wheeling March 4 and 5, Elkins March 11 and 12 and concluding in Beckley April 1 and 2.