Toughman features record field

Are you tough enough?

A record field of entrants will find that out this weekend as the 33rd annual Budweiser Ohio Valley Toughman Contest unfolds inside Wheeling’s WesBanco Arena.

According to Jerry Thomas, of West Virginia Sports Promotions, a total of 191 fighters – male and female – have been accepted. He said more than 300 had sent in requests.

“I have no idea really,” Thomas said when asked why the high number of potential entrants. “We’ve been seeing this trend in other areas of the state.

“It’s a little bit of a problem, but it’s a good problem for us,” he added.

The 191 fighters accepted surpasses last year’s total of 179.

“This is the most fighters we’ve ever had … anywhere in 34 years,” Thomas noted. “It’s amazing, but we put them through a pretty tough screening. Fighters can have no more than five amateur fights, no professional bouts and be between the ages of 18 and 35.”

Of course, when the number of participants increases, so does the amount of manpower needed to put the event on.

“We’re up to nearly 200 people to staff this event,” Thomas added. “We’ve added extra trainers, another inspector and a third referee this year. That doesn’t include the medics, ringside doctors, glovesmen, ticket takers, etc.”

Of the 191 participants entered, 167 of them are male.

“It’s shaping up to be a really great night of action,” Thomas continued. “It should be a great event.”

He said the Ring Girl contestants have been narrowed down to six “very pretty young ladies.”

Only one champion will be back to defend his/her title from last year, that being Wheeling’s Kenny Wilson in the Lightweight Division.

There will be three runnerups trying to improve from a year ago. They include Jack Silla, of McDonald, Pa., in the Heavyweight Division, Steubenville’s Chris Kovach in the Light Heavyweight and Cameron’s Brandi Wood in the women’s Middleweight Division.

A scheduled professional bout on Saturday night featuring Wheeling’s Ronell Green was cancelled late last week when a suitable opponent could not be found.

Action gets under way Friday at approximately 7:30 p.m.

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