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23rd annual Toughman Contest in town this weekend

More than 145 entries received

February 5, 2008
By STEVE HEMMELGARN, Sports Writer
PARKERSBURG — In the midst of ‘‘the busiest year I’ve ever had in the business,’’ West Virginia boxing promoter Jerry Thomas brings the 23rd annual Mid-Ohio Valley Toughman Contest to Parkersburg this weekend.

Friday and Saturday, both starting at 7:30 p.m., Parkersburg High School’s Memorial Fieldhouse will host more than 100 amateur competitors in ‘‘one of our best Toughman venues when it comes attendance and competition,’’ said Thomas.

The Parkersburg Toughman event ‘‘has always been a great draw,’’ Thomas added, with the extremely-rare occasion when it doesn’t sell out.

Thomas complimented Parkersburg. ‘‘The competition and attendance in Parkersburg is always great. It’s very similar in both these aspects to Clarksburg,’’ the original Toughman event in West Virginia, now in its 29th year. ‘‘The venues both seat 3,000 and the crowds are great as are the fights,’’ he added.

The response this year in Parkersburg has been so overwhelming for male competitors Thomas ‘‘stopped taking entries three weeks ago,’’ although the women’s divisions, with only 16 entries so far, are still open.

The number of entries, 145 total as of Saturday, by weight class are: Men’s — heavyweight, 43; middleweight, 46; light-heavyweight, 40; Women’s — 8 in each division, lightweight and heavyweight.

Back to defend his Mid-Ohio Valley men’s heavyweight championship will be 6-5, 260-pound Jason Edgar, nephew of former two-time MOV heavyweight Toughman champ Bob Edgar of Newport, Ohio.

Thomas said Bob Edgar, now 50, has been training and sparring with Jason, 30. Of course, Bob, in addition to his two local Toughman crowns, was also the 1988 World Toughman heavyweight runner-up, losing by a decision, when the event was held at West Virginia Motor Speedway in Mineral Wells.

In addition, Tonya Colvin Perine of Pennsboro, who won an MOV Toughman title the same time her brother Jason did a few years back, will be a trainer along with Jason for Thomas in the corners this weekend, and will sing the national anthem as well.

Thomas, who has been in the business of promoting fights in the Mountain State for some 30 years, added two Toughman events, to total 12 a year, with new ones starting this year in Morgantown and Summersville.

Plus, he promotes six pro boxing cards a year at the Wheeling Island Race Track and Gaming Center and started a new cage fight competition called ‘‘Hard Knocks.’’

In January, Toughman contests were held in Huntington, Short Gap (near Cumberland, Md.) and Jan. 25-26 in Clarksburg.

In February after Parkersburg, Thomas will be in Wheeling (on Feb. 16) for a pro card, then back to Toughman at Morgantown, Martinsburg and Wheeling as Toughman moves into March.

Thomas said a special feature this weekend will be the introduction of Brian Camechis of Glouster, Ohio, who is 17-0 as a pro and just won on ESPN 2 in his first national TV bout last Friday (Feb. 1) in Pittsburgh, notching an eight-round unanimous decision.

‘‘He’s definitely the top pro in this area in the welterweight (147 pound) division,’’ Thomas said.

Also, said Thomas, those attending the MOV Toughman Contest this weekend should keep an eye out for possible sightings of former West Virginia heavyweight boxing champions Jeremy Bates and David McNemar, also a one-time state light-heavyweight champion.

For information about ticket availability or women wanting to sign up to compete, call 1-800-296-3897.

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