Ohio Valley Toughman Contest is back | News, Sports, Jobs


WHEELING – How hard are you? wanna find out

The 41st Annual Ohio Valley Toughman Contest will determine answers on Friday, February 18th and Saturday, February 19th at the WesBanco Arena in downtown Wheeling. The event, which was canceled last winter due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, begins at 7 p.m. on both evenings.

“So far we have almost 100 entries, but we still have a couple of weeks to go,” said Jerry Thomas of West Virginia Sports Promotions. “Wheeling really is an ideal location given its proximity to Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The population within a 50 mile radius is large.

“Although the mills and factories aren’t what they used to be, we still have to turn away some competitors and the arena is usually packed every year,” added Thomas. “There are still many workers here.”

He said Wheeling has a history as a battle town.

“You can go way back and remember that boxing was a really big thing,” Thomas noted. “I once held the World Heavyweight Toughman Championships in Wheeling in 1985. We had about 70 champions in town from the United States and Canada.”

He said winners have something that no one can ever take from them.

“You have lifetime bragging rights,” Thomas said. “They can take that with them for the rest of their lives.”

Competitors, both male and female, must be at least 18 years of age and no older than 39, and must not have professional fighting and only limited amateur experience.

All bouts are three one-minute rounds and fighters wear 16-ounce gloves and a mouthpiece. All applicants must be in good physical condition.

Weight classes for men and women are Lightweight (up to 139 lb.); middleweight (140-159); light heavyweight (160-184); Cruiserweight (185-215); and Heavyweight (216-400).

Up to $17,000 in prize money will be awarded and each champion will receive a Toughman jacket.

Ring girls are also accepted.

The event is sanctioned and overseen by the West Virginia State Athletic Commission.

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