Who's the toughest man and women in the Ohio Valley?
That will be decided this weekend as the 29th annual Ohio Valley Toughman contest unfolds tonight at Wheeling's WesBanco Arena.
Doors open at 6 p.m. both nights, with action slated for a 7:30 bell-ringing.
TRAVIS 'THE TERROR' CLARK
Highlighting Saturday night's card will be the first-ever Professional Kick-Boxing bout on the Toughman card as Travis "The Terror" Clark, last year's heavyweight Toughman champion, will make his pro debut.
Clark, who is unbeaten in half-a-dozen Mixed martial Arts bouts, will meet Jason Erdos, of Butler, Pa., in a 4-round cruiserweight fight. The Keystone State fighter is also making his pro kick-boxing debut after compiling a fine 8-2 mark in boxing, kick-boxing and MMA.
He is trained by former world kick-boxing champion Jimmy Stewart.
"We're honored and pleased to be part of this history-making event," said Jerry Thomas of W.Va. Sports Promotions, Inc. "We're expecting an exciting fight."
Thomas, who has been holding events at the downtown Wheeling venue since May of 1977, said to the best of his knowledge, "this will be the first pro kick-boxing fight we've ever featured on the Toughman card." He added that WesBanco Arena General Manager Dennis Magruder had verified his thoughts.
"This will be boxing history, not only for the Ohio Valley, but for the area as well," Thomas said.
A total of 143 entrants will begin their quest for titles in five weight classes - three for men and two for women. Four new champions are guaranteed as the lone returning titlist is Wheeling's Eddie Redman-Tullius in the women's lightweight division. She is the wife of two-time former Toughman champion Scott "The Rock" Tullius.
"We will have approximately 130 men and 20 women entered," Thomas explained. "We try to limit the competitors to 40-45 per weight class, and we reached those numbers about a month ago." There are 45 fighters in the men's heavyweight division (185-400 lbs.); 43 in the men's light heavyweight (160-184); 41 in the men's middleweight (140-159); 12 in the women's light heavyweight (155-under); and five in the women's heavyweight (156-and-up).
A definite favorite to reach the men's heavyweight finals will be former Martins Ferry standout athlete Dustin Namack. The 6-ft.-3, 248-pounder, who now hails from Colliers, reached the semifinals before losing to Clark.
Another pre-event favorite could be former Bellaire athlete Brian "Bubba" Sechrest, who now lives in Pataskala, Oh. He has some cage fighting experience.
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org