PARKERSBURG - Former Parkersburg resident Jeremy Bates went underground this year.
But he wasn't hiding from anyone.
Bates and three others - a military survivalist, a trained biologist and a hunter-tracker - were looking for "monsters" in caves, caverns and mines in Arizona and California.
Photo courtesy of Discovery Channel
Jeremy Bates, left, and Bill Brock examine evidence above ground as part of the Discovery Channel show “Monsters Underground.”
Photo courtesy of Discovery Channel
Bill Brock, left, and Jeremy Bates search for creatures in a cave.
The group's adventures in April and May were filmed for a new television series "Monsters Underground," set to premiere on the Discovery Channel Thursday at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. No word yet on when additional episodes will air.
Bates, who lived in Parkersburg from 2004-2007 while pursuing a professional boxing career, said he never dreamed he would appear on a TV show.
Bates said he became involved with "Monsters Underground" through his association with Bill Brock of Maine, a "bigfoot" hunter. After attending one of Bates' pro fights in Huntington, Brock asked Bates if he was interested in appearing on a television show someday.
The two kept in touch and the show was filmed this spring at three locations in California and three in Arizona, said Bates, who enjoys hunting and served in the U.S. Navy Seabees.
At times, Bates said, he questioned why he was walking miles underground, in the dark, looking for creatures that may be dangerous.
During 10 days of filming in an Arizona cave, Bates said he lost 13 pounds. "It was strenuous ... we ate when we could ... it was tough stuff," Bates said.
The underground exploration was more nerve-racking and stressful than boxing, said Bates, 40, of Greenup, Ky., a former West Virginia heavyweight boxing champion who finished his career with 23 wins, 17 losses and one draw. His nickname as a boxer was "The Beast."
On the first episode at 10 p.m. Thursday, "Bill Brock and his team believe that a giant, deadly reptilian bat creature known as the Olitiau, or 'cave demon' has made this cave its home."
On the 10:30 p.m. episode, "something has been feeding on Northern California's black bear population, and Bill Brock's team of monster hunters suspects the culprit is the Mapinguari, a descendant of the giant prehistoric sloth."
The four hunters used a thermal camera to see underground.
Although unable to reveal what the group found underground, Bates said he was pleased with the film footage he saw at a movie studio in Los Angeles.
"I am so proud of the final product," Bates said. He said the show is a true portrayal of how he looks and acts.
Bates is hoping for a second season of "Monsters Underground" and wouldn't mind searching for the legendary "Mothman" of Point Pleasant, W.Va.
In "Monsters Underground," four people "are on the case to investigate deadly monsters living in the most inaccessible environments on earth: underground caves, caverns and mines," according to the TV show website.
"There, they seek out legendary creatures that thrive in the cold, damp darkness beneath our feet. For thousands of years, myth and folklore have warned of beasts that prowl the underworld. Now, Bill Brock and his team dare to trespass on their realm for the sake of discovering the truth, putting their lives on the line to venture deep under the earth's surface where natural elements can be as dangerous as the monsters themselves," the show states.
Bates works at the former "atomic plant" in Piketon, Ohio, and has five children, including 15-month-old twin girls.
He said he enjoyed living in Parkersburg during his boxing days. The "city treated me great," he said.