T Nation

My sad Toughman report

Last night I fought in the Toughman competition in McAllen, TX. It was my first and last boxing experience, and for the most part it was a pretty positive one. I was almost not allowed to fight because my blood pressure was too high, but after a few “come on, man"s the paramedic lied to the doctor and got me in.


Back stage all of the other contestants were shockingly nice considering the machismo in the air. Most of them knew each other from their boxing gyms and from previous competitions. They offered me a lot of excellent advice that was promptly knocked out of my head once the bell rang. There were 11 other light heavyweights beside myself. Two were clearly the cream of the crop. On was 6’2” 189, the other 5’8" 188. As the night went on, the odds of me drawing on of these guys increased. Finally, at about 9:30, my and the taller guy’s names were called. Damn.


As the night had gone on, I had watched as guys warmed up backstage. They looked like pros, bobbing and weaving, throwing punches, bouncing around. Then, one after the other, they went in the ring and just swung like madmen. No strategy. No boxing skills. Just wailing. That made me feel a little less anxious, as I don’t have what you call “boxing skills”. Of the 12 fights before mine, only 3 had gone the distance. There had been one knockout, one fight stopped by the ref, and seven that had guys refuse to come out of their corners at the begining of the next round. My whole purpose in life became either getting knocked out cold or finishing the fight. I couldn’t imagine the embarassment of quiting between rounds.

When I got in the ring, the Toughman supplied cornerman told me, “He’s got monkey arms. You better get inside of him fast”. That sounded good in theory, but was a bit more complicated in practice. The bell rang and as we came together I threw the hardest jab I could, but I was too far outside for it to have much impact. He threw a right hook that landed but didn’t hurt much. That’s the last really clear memory I have of the fight. The whole night I could see that right coming at me, but I was rarely able to get out of the way. Towards the end of the first round he landed a right hook that I was trying to slip. It hit me behind and a little below my ear. Everything was black for a second, my back and legs went numb, and my feet started burning. It must have pinched a nerve or something, but for about the next hour my feet BURNED. I can’t describe the exhaustion that had set in even after the first round. I am in the best shape of my life (at 30), but my lungs were on fire and my arms weighed 100 lbs. each. It felt like running a quarter mile in below zero temperatures, carrying buckets of sand while someone beat me with a baseball bat.


The cornerman kept saying “get inside of him”, but he never got to the HOW part. Most of the second round is a blur. I couldn’t see very well anyway because I didn’t have my glasses on, but the exhaustion and shot I had taken to the head made it worse. Somehow I got through that round and made it back to my corner. At that point I was dying. My lungs had exploded, I had tunnel vision, my feet were still on fire. I’ve been in quite a few fights in my life, I played football, I went through basic training, but I’ve never hurt like I hurt last night.

When the last round started I was counting on being knocked out. I didn’t think I could make it another minute, and I wasn’t going to quit. Somehow, though, I made it through. That was probably my best round. Beating me about the head had tired him out enough that I was able to slip inside and work on him. I landed a few shots to the face that, had the come when I was fresh, may have actually hurt him. In the end I made it through. I didn’t get knocked out, I didn’t quit, I didn’t totally embarass myself, but I did lose a unanimous decision.


Backstage I talked to the guy who had just lowered my IQ 50 points. He’s 20. He’s 4-1 as an amateur, and he made it to the finals of the Toughman last year. I wished him luck the rest of the way, and went out with my coworkers for some steak. I had to be in to school today at 8:00am for Saturday tutoring. When I woke up I couldn’t believe how sore and stiff I was. Anyway, that is my Toughman experience. Thanks to those of you who posted advice.

Great post!! I felt like I went throught the fight myselft. Good job in staying in there against a guy 10 years younger. Very impressive, considering your opponent got to the finals last year.

Quite the story there! Nice shot man! You gave it all you had. That’s the ONLY way to do it. I can’t say I would have gone in there and done that. You’re one tough bastard just for getting the gumption to go in there and duke it out.
So you done with the toughman competition? Save your brain…it’s the only one you’ve got.
Best of luck to you in your future endeavors.

awesome job! and interesting read.

Don’t feel bad, sounds like you got beat by a competent fighter who has a good bit more experience than you. No shame!

You should have retired about 8:00 undefeated but we’re proud of you Doogie. Sounds like you put up one heck of a good fight.

Its a good thing you neglected that sparring practice…

Hey at least you stood your ground, w/ the limiting fighting skills you had. To someone who went to the finals last year. Are you going to try it again? If you are Good Luck.

I have a lot of respect for anyone who is willing to go one on one in the ring like that…win or lose. Good stuff, man.

I agree, you have brass balls for stepping into that ring.

Sometimes men are just compelled to do stupid things. You know it's not a good idea and makes no sense, but you just gotta do it anyway. Sounds like it was one of those times for you. I don't mean that as a criticism in any way. Good job doogie, it takes stones to jump into something you've never really done before, especially when the potential for getting "filled" is high.

doogie: I respect anyone who steps into a boxing ring. It’s tough, once you get your feet onto that canvas that’s elevated several feet into the air. You instantly become the center of attention. After that realization, it hits you that you actually have to do something (like fight). Whoa.

But you did it. Personally, I'd do it again. Since now you know now what it's like. And know what it will take for you to win the next one. But that's me. But you remained on your feet throughout and "kept up" with a more experienced competitor - good job. Hopefully, you had a few beers afterwards. :-)

What everyone else said. Nice post, Doog.

You are a toughman.

Congratulations on lasting the whole fight! I probably would have gotten KO’d in the first.

Great read…almost like a short story. You have no shame. Just how many guys out there would even consider stepping into a ring? Few, I would dare say.

A follow up. The guy who beat me wasn’t able to continue the next night, so I guess I got in a few more shots than I remember. I would have much preferred him to have gone on and won the whole thing so I could say I lost to the winner.


I forgot to mention this one heavyweight. This was his fifth and final year to compete, and he had not made it out of the first round in any of the previous four years. On Friday he got knocked down twice in the first round, but came back to score a knockout in the second round. It was a great Rock-like moment to see this big, goofy guy bounding around the ring after the fight with 9,000 people yelling his name. He showed up Saturday night and took a beating (1st round KO) by the eventual heavyweight champ, but he couldn’t have been happier.

Doogs, your post got me thinking (again) about taking up boxing as a sport. Sounds like fun. Congrats on following through. I haven’t boxed much, but a friend of mine trained for Toughman and I went along with him a few times. We sparred 4 or 5 rounds a few times and it was an unbelievably good workout. And we were going very easy, not swinging 100%. I think if I were to go 4 or 5 rounds “legit”, I’d friggin collapse in a pool of sweat and exhaustion!
What I learned from it is that not only is boxing tough, but you quickly find out what a person is made of. My friend is 6’, 185 and looks like he’s chiseled from marble, yet he had his as* slapped all over the place in all 5 contests he entered. In one case he lost to a pudgy 17-year old! (He was 26 at the time).
We have a friend in common, who’s about 6’4, 270, with a massive build. He is one of the most intimidating people you’ll ever see (tho he’s a computer programmer). Well, he went to spar with my friend once, to see what it was like…and didn’t last 1 round! He quit and sat on the canvas, sucking wind. Too hard for him. Well, he is a programmer, poor guy :slight_smile:

My friend was training for Golden Gloves not Toughman.

My hats off to you for competing and giving it everything you got. Who cares if you lost you stuck through the pain…you rock!