WHEELING - For the last 24 years, The Toughman Contest as been a staple in the state of West Virginia. The season starts in November and ends in April, giving wannabe fighters a chance in the ring.
The Toughman Contest actually began in the late 70s by Art Dore, a former boxer and promoter in Bay City, Michigan. The first contest came to life when Dore and long time friend, Dean Oswald, were tired of hearing guys say how tough they were.
Dore and Oswald gave these guys a chance by renting out a local arena for the weekend. Fans were able to see amateur, hometown boys duking it out in the ring, for next to nothing, with friends and family in the audience.
The Toughman Contest was born, with amatuer, back to basics fighting. What keep these guys coming back is having the chance to say he was the "Toughest Man in Town." Both nights were sold out and the same could be said of the second contest that was held a short time later.
The event grew and spread in Michigan, before moving onto Ohio and finally onto West Virginia. It was in West Virginia that Dore joined forces with Clarksburg promoter Jerry Thomas, who was promoting pro and amatuer boxing events.
Within two years, the event spread to 100 cities in the United States and Thomas' company, West Virginia Sports Promotions Inc., owns the rights to The Toughman Contest in West Virginia. There are ten events scheduled in West Virginia this year.
The 33rd Annual Toughman Contest will be held in Wheeling at the WesBanco Arena starting on March 8 and ending on March 9. This will be one of five Toughman Contest held in West Virginia along with three Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) events. Tickets for the Wheeling event can be purchased through ticket master. Prices are $15 for general admission, $20 for reserved ringside and $30 for VIP ringside, which are the first four rows.