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Toughmen a 'hit' in W.Va.

February 26, 2005|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Seconds before the final bell, "Fearless" Scott Bowers clocked "Psycho" Keith Swartz in the face just as Swartz clocked Bowers.

Both Bowers, of Sterling, Va., and Bowers, of Winchester, Va., went down. It was the first double knockdown at a Toughman contest in Berkeley County, ring announcer Jerry Thomas told the crowd.

Friday night's spectators at the Berkeley 2000 Recreation Center in Martinsburg shouted approval for wild punching barrages in the Bowers-Swartz bout.

Nearly 50 fighters signed up to pummel each other Friday, but some didn't make it. Three women registered, but only one showed up, so the female action was canceled.

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The 14th annual Parsons Ford Original Toughman Contest was split into light heavyweight (160 to 184 pounds) and heavyweight (185 to 400 pounds).

The matches consisted of three one-minute rounds. Boxers wore 16-ounce gloves, headgear, mouthpieces and groin protectors. The event was sanctioned by the West Virginia Athletic Commission.

Friday's card was a preliminary to today's championship.

Each division winner will get $1,000 and a shot at $50,000 in a national championship. The runners-up will get $250.

But money wasn't the incentive for some fighters.

"I'm trying to make a career out of fighting," said Jason "The Punisher" Bender, 27, of Hagerstown. "This is just a steppingstone."

Bender, a bouncer, said he trains in boxing and the martial arts of jujitsu and tae kwon do.

Last year, at 215 pounds, Bender lost an opening-round decision. He trimmed down to 184 pounds this year.

Asked why, Bender quipped, "I'm just a smart fighter."

Another light heavyweight, David Rose, 26, of Hagerstown, said he wants to go into cage fighting, which resembles brawling more than boxing.

To follow that path, Rose - a heating, ventilation and air conditioning mechanic for M.S. Johnston in Washington County - boxes and works on jujitsu and aikido.

He's made other sacrifices. "I don't chase no women no more," he said. He's not thrilled, "but that's the commitment I make."

Heavyweight fighter Jason "Jawbreaker" Lawson, 29, of Charles Town, W.Va., sees plenty of women as a doorman at the Golden Horseshoe, a nude dance club in Ranson, W.Va.

Even Rose couldn't escape women entirely Friday night. Legz Club, another nude dance club, brought "ring girls" to hold up cards announcing each round.

Last year, Troy "Nuttsie" Butts, 24, of Hagerstown lost a split decision in his only Toughman fight.

But Friday night, Butts - a driver for K.L. Grimm Trucking in Washington County - knocked his opponent down 10 seconds into the fight and won a unanimous decision.

A heavyweight rumble between Lloyd "Lightning" Allison (320 pounds) of Martinsburg - who works for the City of Hagerstown - and Larry "High Voltage" Rafferty (262 pounds) of Cumberland, Md., fizzled when Allison twisted his ankle and the bout was stopped.

In a match between Todd "The Sniper" Davis of Martinsburg and Chris "Blackjack" Veitenthal of Front Royal, Va., Davis pounded away at Veitenthal's nose, spraying blood on the ringside spectators.

Davis won a unanimous decision.

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