Toughman takes T-town again
Amateur boxing competition visits area for second time in eight months
Published: Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Updated: Sunday, October 17, 2010 08:10
Men and women left their lazyboys behind or ventured out of their gym habitats to test their toughness at the Toughman Contest April 26 and 27 in the Tacoma Dome.
“Lets see how tough you are!” said Art Dore, founder and ringmaster. He charges $50 for men and women off the street to win a fight or, “get the shit beat out of them,” as Dore put it. “It is getting more and more popular all the time.”
Dore used to promote pro boxing shows but it became more challenging to sell tickets when fighters were not from the area. He grew tired of listening to armchair athletes talk about how they could beat up the fighters, so he opened up the ring for guys who wanted to prove how tough they were.
“All the local tough guys were tired of the bullshit,” said Dore.
For willing and able fighters the Toughman Contest is an opportunity of a lifetime. Some may enter for a confidence boost while others seek out dreams in the ring. Yet for most fighters it is the chance to proof how tough they really are with real rules, a boxing ring, judges, ring girls in little bikinis and at least 1,000 spectators.
“I like to fight, I want to see how tough I am and if I can do better then the guys on TV,” said Aaron Prater, heavy weight fighter.
The Tacoma Dome had 20 light heavy weight, 19 heavy weights and two women fighters Friday night.
The World Championship top prize is $50,000 and the National Title means exposure. Who knows, they could be the next Butterbean, Eric Esch or Tommy Morrison or TV personality Mr. T.
“The T stands for Tough,” Dore said.
“Half of the people come to see guys win the others come to see them get their butt whipped,” Dore said.
The fights are faster than professional fights. The fighters come in all shapes, sizes and strengths. Some are athletic and muscular while others resemble Santa, a basketball player or even a gymnast.
The professions and pastimes of fighters vary like their sizes. Among the eager new faces in the ring Friday was a Tacoma school district teacher, firefighter, plumber, truck driver, former marine and various others.
Participants cannot have won over five professional fights within the last five years. It is a sanctioned level playing field, said Dore. Fighters must be at least 18, weigh over 160 pounds, afford a $50 entry fee and live within a 75-mile radius of the Tacoma Dome to be eligible.
Although it is an armature contest, a lot have started boxing through Toughman, said Dore. His advice to fighters, “keep their hands up, with three to one minute rounds sometimes the best fighter is going to get beat if they wait for their chance.”
Toughman is not extreme fighting or professional wrestling. The competition is similar to boxing but has measures to protect amateur fighters such as shorter rounds, safety gear and event management. Fighters wear 16-ounce gloves, headgear, a padded groin protector and a mouthpiece. The fights consist of three-one minute rounds and include a 45 second rest between rounds. Sanctioned fighters use eight to 10-ounce gloves, have longer rounds and more frequent rounds without headgear.
Although Toughman contest does not use the official boxing rules, biting, wrestling, head butting and kicking are not acceptable. The three knock down rule and standing eight counts also apply to fights. Fighters are judged by a 10 point system. Points are awarded on the basis of aggression, power, number of hits, defense and various other factors.
Fighters are also required to have a pre-fight physical. A ringside physician, experienced referees and corner-men are also measure to ensure fight safety.
Male fighters are placed in two weight classes, lightweight, 160 to 184 pounds and heavy weight, 185 to 400 pounds. Women fight in an open weight class.
“We are going to have some fun tonight,” Dore said, opening night of Toughman. “Hell yeah! If you expect a boxing match, you came to the wrong place! This is a fight. We have the roughest, toughest athletes. It is the original reality show.”
He encourages fighters to fight. “Get it, get it, keep on going, keep on going, fight, fight,” Dore said during the first fight Friday night.
After almost every fight Dore walks onto the ring, microphone in hand and ask the fighters what happened.
The crowd only grows louder and more enthusiast when his vocal cords ring into the microphone. He rants, cheers, critisizes and ridicules over the microphone.
Spectators can watch the fights, laugh at Dore’s commentary and enjoy the different appearances of fighters too.
The best-dressed fighter was, Irish Man. Dore commented on his, “sassy sexy trunks.” Irish Man wore white, red and blue-fringed trunks that waved like a flappers dress in the ring.
“Tough men don’t dance, Irish Man, don’t run,” Dore said during the fight.
The crowd was also not so pleased with Irish Man’s remarks after he won the fight either.
“Bring on the next American that wants a piece of this,” Irish Man said. The crowd booed.
The heaviest fight Friday night had over 700 pounds in the ring.
“Hit him in the fat ass belly, dude,” said Dore.
Some fighters were not even able to punch and quit before they got beat too badly.
“My grandmother was slow, but she was old,” said Dore after another heavy weight match.
Hits or misses, the Toughman competition rattles the crowd as much as the fighters.
“The Toughman competitions always bring a certain energy to the building,” said Erika Holt, Tacoma Dome marketing coordinator. “Each competitor usually brings a group of their friends and family so the crowd really gets into it. Because the crowd really got behind certain fighters, even when they lost, they were invited to proceed on the finals on Saturday and fight again.”