Having a ring name is a part of a longstanding boxing tradition that goes back to the very beginnings of the sport.
Some are catchy and gimmicky, while some rhyme are other nicknames are intimidating to match the boxer’s persona, such as “Iron” Mike Tyson, James “Lights Out” Toney, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran and Laila “She Be Stinging” Ali.
Others ring names are downright hilarious.
In the world of Toughman boxing, they have certainly had their share over the years.
The Toughman event rolls into Logan this weekend for the 27th-annual Coal Area event and there will be plenty of funny ring names.
If you are a boxer, you have to have a ring name.
You have to.
It’s all part of the show.
Longtime West Virginia boxing promoter Jerry Thomas said Toughman boxers can pick from a list of pre-selected nicknames used over the years, they can come up with their own, or he can put his creative juices to use and help the fighters come up with something.
Just about every year, a boxer will be “The All-American,” “The Killer,” “The Gladiator,” “The Ice Man” or “The Beast.”
However, it’s the funny or catchy ring names that seem to attract the most attention.
Friday night’s pro bout 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 sports a 2-0 mark as a pro.
Thomas said he loves Russell’s ring name since it is so original.
“He has an interesting fighting ring name as do many of the boxers,” Thomas said of Russell. “Melvin Russell is the ‘Romantic Redneck.’ He’s a great guy and we had a great time with him when he was fighting Toughman bouts with that ring name. That’s a funny nickname.”
Thomas said he even tried to help Russell get a date in year’s past when he was a amateur Toughman fighter before turning professional.
“I expanded on that a little bit when he was fighting and made mention that he was single and was looking for a lady to take him out to dinner,” Thomas said. “I come up with some of the nicknames but most of them, probably 80 percent of them, come up with their own.”
Some of the ring names are crazy, amusing and some are pretty darn cool.
Years ago, a woman boxer at the Logan Toughman was the “Fighting Italian Princess.”
This year’s boxing nicknames feature: “Walking Tall” Jon Hall; Russell “Big Baller from the Holler” Rhodes; Jonathan “You’re Gonna Need a Stretcher” Fletcher; Corey “The Kistler Infection” Hall; Brittany “Bad Momma” Chippent; and Amber “The Ginger Ninja” Sweeney.
Probably the coolest one this year is Jason “The Punching Postman” Castera from Accoville.
“We get all kinds. It’s crazy,” Thomas said. “I just saw one this morning. There’s a guy named Jason Caserta who is boxing in the Tougman this year in Logan and his ring name is the ‘Punching Postman.’”
Toughman signups have been very strong so far with more than 80 registering to fight this weekend. More spots are still open, particularly in the men’s middle weight and light weight divisions, Thomas said.
Thomas said fighters can still sign up until Thursday and a few might also be accepted as late as Friday, the first day of the weekend event.
“We always seem to get a few sign up at the last minute,” he said.
This year, there will also be a change in the ring girl contest.
No longer will there be a preliminary ring girl selection process at Top’s as in years past. The selections will instead be made on line. As of Tuesday, six ladies have signed up to be ring girls.
Thomas said one of this year’s ring girls is a body builder and an aspiring boxer.
“There was a little girl who entered the ring girl contest on Sunday and it looks like she is going to be in the event. We are doing an on-line contest this year, so there is no bar contest,” Thomas said. “This little gal just turned 18 and she has a friend who is fighting. She is all of 5-feeet-tall. She is a gymnast and a body-builder. She sent me a picture of her working out in the gym. She was doing curls with some big dumb bells. I was talking to her on the phone and I told her that she looked really strong and based on her background as a gymnast, you might think about fighting also. She isn’t going to fight this weekend but she’s already in touch with some former fighters to get prepped to fight in Huntington at our Toughman event there later on. She’s going to be a fighter and a ring girl the same night. We’ve had this happen only three or four times over the years but that’s all.”
Maybe she will be known as “The Fighting Ring Girl.”
Time will tell.
Logan Toughman 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.
(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).