The Roughest and Toughest Brawl, now in its fourth year in Waynesville, has attracted up 45 fighters from Haywood and neighboring counties in the past, according to George Hines, a boxing promoter and former pro wrestler in Japan who puts on the event. He said although professional boxing is declining in popularity, amateur boxing is as popular as ever.
“Pro boxing is on its behind,” Hines said. “But this is different; this is local guys who haven’t fought before except in bars or as kids.”
The guys who show up to his events are the convenience store clerks or the classmates you haven’t seen since high school, he said.
The fights are also more exciting than professional boxing, Hines said. Instead of 10, three-minute rounds, the fights in Waynesville will consist of three, one-minute rounds. The faster matches cause for a livelier boxing event, and more matches.
“They don’t have time to dance around,” Hines said. “They get in there and slug, toe-to-toe.”
One local boxer, Time Gentry, 33, said he was looking around for a job to pay his child support, then heard that the upcoming boxing match pays, so he signed up two weeks ago.
Gentry said has learned to box by handling himself in the street, but never done it with gloves on. He added that he has hopes to step into the ring with some of his enemies around town, after missing out on the chance to participate in the event two years ago because of his weight.
He dropped his weight from 210 pounds two years ago to 185 pounds this year, he said. Now, he likes his chances of winning in a lower weight class at the competition.
“I quit eating three meals a day,” Gentry said. “I didn’t want to have to fight a 300-pound man.”
The boxers who win Friday night will return Saturday for more. Rounds not decided by a knockout are decided by a judgment — usually in favor of the more aggressive boxer, Hines said.
Hines, who puts on 20 of the events in North and South Carolina a year, was recently approached about a reality show deal with A&E television station.
Want to go?
The Roughest and Toughest Brawl will come to the Haywood County Fairgrounds Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8 and 9. Tickets are between $8 and $16. Doors open at 7 p.m. and fighting begins at 8 p.m. Winners can walk away with $600. Sign up at Bob’s Sports Store in Waynesville, at the match, or online at roughestandtoughest.com