In addition to all the action and excitement the Original Toughman Contest delivers each year to the Logan, this year’s 27th-annual event will also feature a professional bout.
Friday night’s pro fight pits last year’s Logan Toughman champion Turner “Money” Williams of Beckley, who will make his pro debut against “The Romantic Redneck” Melvin Russell of Ashland, Ky. Russell is a former two-time Huntington Toughman champ and is 2-0 as pro.
The light heavyweight bout is scheduled for four rounds.
This year’s Toughman is scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights at Logan High School’s Willie Akers Arena.
Bell time is 7:30 p.m. each night.
Toughman boxing promoter Jerry Thomas said the Williams-Russell pro bout is an intriguing one.
“Russell won the Toughman title twice in Huntington and turned pro in January but the real story behind him is that he’s a recovering drug addict,” Thomas said. “He came to the gym in Ashland, Kentucky, a gym called Fitness World, a gym that is known for helping people and training fighters. He came there to get healthy and get off drugs. He got together with a friend of mine, Corky Salyers. He got him off drugs, got him healthy and got him in shape and he decided to get into the Toughman contest in Huntington.”
Thomas said Russell won the Toughman title twice in Huntington and then turned pro.
“He wanted to continue boxing because he found out that boxing was a vehicle to assist him in keeping off drugs,” Thomas said. “He kind of started late and he’s 36 years old.”
Russell is set to fight Williams, who won last year’s light heavyweight championship in Logan.
“Williams previously won an event in Beckley and he’s a two-time winner too. He’s also done some MMA fighting,” Thomas said. “He’s making his pro debut vs. Russell. I think it’s a great matchup because they are both former two-time champions in Toughman. They are both 175-pound light heavyweights. The differences are that Russell is 36 and Williams is 24. Williams is 6-foot-4 and Russell is 5-foot-11. He’ll have the reach on him and the age advantage. Russell also has two pro bouts under his belt. It will be a great fight.”
An originally scheduled pro bout featuring Warren Browning vs. Joe Paintiff was scratched when Browning suffered an injury. Another scheduled pro fight between Austin Marcum and Zack Kuhn was also scratched due to an injury suffered by Marcum, Thomas said.
Tickets are on sale at: Mike Ferrell Toyota-Scion (Chapmanville); LA Liquor & Lottery (Logan); Zip Zone Express (Fountain Place Mall, Logan); Speedway of Logan, Chapmanville, Man, West Logan and Wilkinson; and Zip Zone Express (South Williamson, Ky.).
Tickets may also be purchased online at wvtoughman.com or to charge by phone, call 1-800-296-3897.
The Toughman is a single-elimination boxing tournament that is open to area men and women, 18-39 years of age, with no pro fights and limited or no amateur fighting experience.
All bouts are scheduled for three one-minute rounds, with all fighters wearing 16-ounce gloves, protective headgear and a mouth piece.
All applicants must be in good physical condition. The weight divisions for men and women are: Lightweight (up to 139 pounds) Middleweight (140-159 pounds), Light Heavyweight (160-184 pounds) and Heavyweight (185-400 pounds). There is no entry fee.
Up to $12,000 in prize money will be awarded.
The champion in each weight class will receive up to $1,000 and the runners-up will each receive up to $300.
In addition, each champion will receive a Toughman jacket. Each weight class runner-up will receive a trophy or plaque.
The ring girls will share a total of $1,600 in cash prize money, with Miss Ring Girl receiving $1,000, and a Toughman jacket. First, second, and third runners-up will each receive $200, plus additional prizes.
This year’s event is being sponsored by Mike Ferrell Toyota-Scion, Mike Ferrell Ford-Lincoln of Williamson, Hainer’s Collison, The Marines, Suddenlink Media, Network West Virginia and 96.1 The Wolf.
The event is sanctioned and will be supervised by the West Virginia State Athletic Commission.
Fighter and ring girl entries are still being accepted. To enter online, visit wvtoughman.com or call 1-800-296-3897.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1730, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).