Toughman story

Tihs was taken from the Peoria Journal Star :

Jim Colby has been in a lot of fights, but not until this week had he been floored by a sucker punch - by the state, no less.

The Illinois Department of Professional Regulation has all but outlawed Toughman competitions, including one planned for Peoria in February.

The state essentially says that Toughman contests are too tough. To that, Colby essentially says, duh.

"I've fought many, many Toughman contests," says Colby, 35, of Bartonville, who had been training for the February showdown. "It's pretty well organized. They stop a fight when it gets bad.

"I realize many (fighters) are out of shape. But they sign a sheet of paper (a liability release). It's a free country."

The state's decision means Toughman and similar challenges must comport to Illinois' strict boxing regulations. That's probably the final bell for Toughman, whose rules aren't nearly as stringent as the state's.

The tournament features two weight classes: light-heavyweight (up to 183 pounds) and heavyweight. Each match consists of three 1-minute rounds. Fighters use 16-ounce gloves, as opposed to the 10-ouncers worn by sanctioned amateurs.

Participants aren't supposed to have won more than five pro or amateur matches over the past five years. Toughman allows female fighters, but they've been rare in Peoria.

The prize? Sometimes just a jacket. Sometimes cash. Peoria's February event promises $1,000 to the winner of each class. As of Thursday, the event scheduled for Feb. 20 and 21 was still on, a Civic Center official confirmed.

But ask any fighter, and he'll tell you that the biggest reward comes with the earned rep: I'm the toughest guy in town.

Colby, a utility lineman, boxed as a teen (he was twice middleweight state champ in Golden Gloves) and in the Army. He won light-heavyweight contests in Peoria in '91, '92 and '02.

"I get hit a lot," he says nonchalantly. "But I can dish it out, too.

"I know I could get hurt. But you could get hurt playing football. And (state regulators) don't ban football."

The physical challenge also appeals to Toughman veteran Pat Moss.

"I just do it for exercise. It's a motivator," says Moss, 38, a former Peorian who now works for a Ford dealership in Bettendorf, Iowa.

"My job is sales manager. (Toughman) is a great release of stress, to go out and beat each other up for a few hours. It sounds weird, but it's fun."

Moss, who won Peoria's '01 light-heavyweight championship, now trains other Toughmen - including last year's Peoria champ, Ronny Searle. Moss and his charges work hard, which often means trouble for oblivious opponents who don't take the fight as seriously.

"I'm gonna go in there and hurt somebody," says Moss, a boxer since age 8 who has fought 200 amateur bouts. "I'm not going to test somebody. I'm going to pound them."

That kind of attitude came as a shock to Jim Reading, who last year at age 55 decided on a whim to become a Toughman. He was surprised backstage to see Toughman veterans reinforce their fists with thick tape.

"It was like concrete," Reading says.

A gym regular, he'd worked on a speed bag but had never boxed before. Backstage before the tourney, the Dunlap plumbing contractor soon realized that Toughman wasn't the lark he'd expected.

"I thought it was (supposed to involve) just Joe Blow, like me," Reading says. "I thought it was novices, or the drunk in the bar who thinks he's a tough guy."

Still, Reading went through with his first match. He says he enjoyed the sporting experience, which ended with a victory over an 18-year-old rookie.

"It was a good, fair fight," Reading says. "He was out of shape and I was in shape. That's why I won. He was puking a half-hour later in the back room."

However, Reading tore a shoulder muscle and couldn't compete further. He didn't plan on returning this year.

But he might change his mind if Toughman were to include a novice class. The organization's Web page says it sports a novice division; however, Colby has never seen that in Peoria. Instead, its two divisions are open to anyone of any - or no - experience.

Colby and Moss think a novice division would not only make the competition fair, but recruit more boxers. Newcomer Reading thinks the state should OK Toughman challenges that involve a novice class.

"My next hope is I'll fight at 60 and show people I can still do it," Reading says, chuckling but serious.

As for Moss, now living in the Quad Cities, he says he'll look for competitions in Iowa. But he won't see Colby, who says he has no plans to make the drive from Bartonville. He's only interested in fighting in Peoria, where friends and family flock to see him at Toughman.

"That's how everyone knows me in town," he says glumly.

- Contact Phil Luciano, at, (309) 686-3155 or (800) 225-5757, Ext. 3155.


Government wants to legislate the fun out of life.

"It's a free country."

Yeah....Right....Your free to do what the rich man want you to do. LMFAO


Whatever the rich man wants you to do???

Man does that sound powerless and weak! Are you sure you are on the right forum?