Hundreds turn out for Toughman Contest

February 25, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • Dan Rowland of Fort Loudon, Pa., facing, took a punch square in the face from Todd Judd Jr. of Williamsport Friday night during the 20th Parsons Ford Original Toughman Contest at the Berkeley 2000 Recreation Center in Martinsburg, W.Va. Rowland went on to win the bout.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Bill and Paula Sims were among the hundreds of people who turned out for the 20th Parsons Ford Original Toughman Contest Friday night in Martinsburg.

Seated in the VIP ringside section at the Berkeley 2000 Recreation Center, the Martinsburg couple said their $35 tickets for the amateur boxing event presented by West Virginia Sports Promotions Inc. were well worth the price.

"We always come on the first night ... you get to see all the guys that think they're good," said Bill Sims, who wanted to see some fighters get knocked out.

The Martinsburg couple said they have been coming to the contest since it was first held at Martinsburg High School.

"It keeps getting bigger and bigger," Paula Sims said.

The popularity of the contest actually forced organizers of the event to limit fighters to residents within a 50-mile radius of Martinsburg, promoter Jerry Thomas said.

After 35 single-elimination bouts Friday night, only 36 male fighters were expected to return for the second night of the contest, which resumes at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. General admission is $20.

Winners in three of the divisions receive $1,000 and a Toughman jacket. Prize money for a newly created lightweight division will be based on the average number of bouts and will paid up to $1,000.

Thomas said only five women registered for the contest, but there were not enough in one weight division this year to hold bouts.

Before being knocked down in the first round of his heavyweight division bout, Curtis McPaters, 21, of Hedgesville, W.Va., said he trained for the past three or four months in the basement with a buddy to get ready for his first Toughman competition.

The former high school wrestler said he never thought he would get into boxing, but decided he just wanted to try it.

Though he left the ring with a bloody nose thanks to three-time Toughman fighter, Bryan Biggs, McPaters vowed he would be back.

Biggs, 33,  who finished second two years ago, said he has aspirations to go professional.

"If I have another good showing, (Thomas) will promote me, and I can go pro, that's my whole goal right now," Biggs said.

Describing himself as a competitive person, Biggs said he actually doesn't like to fight, but doesn't back down, either.

Michael Plum of Greencastle, Pa., credited his interest in fighting to his "old man."

"He just had a reputation for it," Plum said, smiling.

In his first Toughman, Plum said he finished third and didn't train for it.

This year, he didn't bother training, either.

The 27-year-old landscaper's strategy was simple — "Go out there and do my best."

In about 20 years of volunteering for the event, Rescue Chief Mary Lou Largent of the Baker Heights Volunteer Fire Department said one of the most serious medical emergencies was actually when a spectator went into cardiac arrest.  

"We used a defibrillator on her and got her back, and she lived to be able to tell about it," Largent said.

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