Tough man contest enthralls crowd
Constants came from as far away as Mexico and California to compete in the amateur boxing match held at the county fairgrounds last weekend.
Of the 30 contestants that boxed in three weight classes, about a third were from Haywood, including Heath Parton of Waynesville, who made it to the semi-finals.
"It takes the wind out of you," said Parton as he finished up his Saturday night bout.
Despite getting in a ring where all take a few hard hits, and most get eliminated without taking home any prize money, Parton was pleased with his first experience.
"I met a lot of new people and it was a new experience," said the recent Southwestern Community College graduate who is seeking a position in radiology. He credited his friend and manager Rob Sims of Waynesville who encouraged him to participate and helped his prepare for the match.
There were both men's and women's matches in the N.C. Boxing Authority-sanctioned event. The single elimination tournament featured three 1-minute rounds, and most matches were settled by the judges' decision as opposed to a knock-out or a contestant forfeiture.
The rules made for an action-packed event. As soon as a red-corner and blue-corner boxers took their posts, the next contestants were suiting up with the required head gear and the no-foul protectors. A "second" or corner man, would work with boxers, whipping a stool inside the ring to provide a brief resting spot and giving them sips of water along with words of encouragement.
The announcer kept things going with his steady, auctioneer-like chatter. "Rumble young men, rumble. Who wants it the most? This is the night for the money. We're paying some people and making them famous. Finish strong, finish strong. 10 seconds. 10 seconds. Stay busy, stay busy."
Bob's Sports Store Kenny Mull worked with the G. Hines Promotion on the match to help register contestants and sell tickets.
"They have professional referees, good judges and are real strict," Mull said. "
There's a doctor at the event and the contestants have to be tested when they arrive and aren't allowed to go to the restroom unaccompanied.
"They call it 'potty patrol,'" Mull said. "After they leave the ring a doctor check their vital signs. It's good the way they do it. It's not a brawl. It's really organized."
One of the referees, Bill Clancy, knows his way around the boxing ring. Clancy lives in Pittsboro and has officiated at boxing events for the past 31 years. He's licensed in 14 states and 11 countries.
His most memorable moment to this day — one he has handy on his cell phone — is a shot of him with Mike Tyson in front of 16,000 in Memphis, Tennessee, on Feb. 20, 2003. The date was Tyson's last professional boxing victory and one in which he knocked out contender Clifford Etienne in just 49 seconds.