This weekend's Tough Man Competition will be a slugfest.
"The rules are no kicking, no wrestling, strictly slugging," James Hines, owner of Hines Promotion and event coordinator of the competition, said.
The Boone National Guard Armory hosts two nights of amateur boxing matches this Friday and Saturday. Each bout consists of three one-minute rounds. If a boxer doesn't quit or get knocked out, there will be a panel of judges to score the cards.
"On Friday night, (all the entries) fight," Hines said. "Saturday night, they come back and go on to the prize money, trophy, and title in each division."
There are four weight divisions: Lightweight at 139 pounds and under, middleweight between 140 and 165 pounds, light heavyweight between 166 and 185 pounds, and heavyweight above 186 pounds. If enough women register, there will be a women's division, as well.
Each participant is required to wear a pair of 16-ounce gloves and headgear, both of which are provided by Hines Promotion. A mouth guard is mandatory, as well.
Nobody has ever been seriously injured at these events, and Hines said there were more bruised egos than anything else.
"Safety is paramount in this," he said. "Sometimes people do get hurt, but that isn't what this is about. We have a doctor that gives a pre-fight physical. (Alcohol Law Enforcement) agents come in and give a Breathalyzer to the competitors. We want them sober and (want them to) know what's going on when they enter the ring."
This is the fourth Tough Man Competition that Hines has brought to the Boone National Guard Armory, and some of the proceeds of the event go to support the troops.
In the past, crowds of 250 to 300 have packed the armory to watch about 40 competitors duke it out.
Jonathan Curtis, 18, of Boone is participating in his first Tough Man Competition, though he has been in a scrap or two.
Curtis, a man of few words, is fighting for the experience. "I just figured I'd give it a try and see how it is," he said.
At these competitions, people fight for different reasons.
"Some fight for the money, some to prove they are able to get in the ring and compete on a competitive level," Hines said. "Some (of the fighters) used to be former high school athletes with no athletic outlet any longer, but they still have the competiveness inside them."
What does it take to be a tough man? When posed this question, Hines said, "To have guts to stand in there and fight ... endurance and the (ability) to overcome fear."
"A lot of times, the guys who say they are the toughest, they are the ones who get beat the quickest, and the crowd comes to see them finally get theirs," he said. "They cheer for someone whipping up on that guy. It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog."
The Tough Man Competition takes place Friday, Feb. 18, and Saturday, Feb. 19. Fights start at 8 p.m. sharp each night. Doors open at 7 p.m. Fighters are asked to show up at 5:30 p.m. to sign up and take care of the event's logistics.
"It's a good time," Hines said. "People can bring their whole families. We got round card kids, and different people in the audience working the round cards. We keep this a family type event."
For more information, call Hines Promotions at (704) 857-6798 or click to http://tuffbadbrawl.com.