The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 6, 2013

Toughman contest a family tradition

By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer

— As Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law” was  blaring over the public address system  at the 34th Annual Southern West Virginia Original Toughman Contest, Marissa Long was breaking the will of her opponent, Michelle Whitehead.

For Marissa, it’s just carrying on a longtime family tradition.

Marissa and her brother, Dell Long made history Friday night in becoming the first three generation fighters in the 34 years of  the  contest.  

Their mother, Monica Williams  Long, was the lightweight champion in 1994 and 1996. Her father, Eddie Williams, fought in some of the early contests in the 1980s.

“My dad had a big boxing club when I was growing up, and there were always guys in there working out for the Golden Gloves. I was playing around one day, and my brother said I should fight,” Monica said.

She thought he was joking until two weeks later, when she received a packet in the mail. Her dad, Eddie, looked at her — smiled — and said  she had two months to train.

“It was a challenge for me. I had no idea how to throw a  straight punch,” Monica said.

She learned, though.

And the rest was history.

Monica was in the crowd cheering, alongside her  father, watching as her two children stepped between the ropes, noticeably  nervous.

Those nerves would prove to be unfounded.

She watched on as both of her children were victorious in  the opening round of the fights.

The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Dell defeated Jason  “The Convict”  Minton by a TKO when Minton was unable to return to fight at the  end of the  first round.

“It’s such an adrenaline rush!” Dell said. “It feels so  good.”

Carrying on that tradition is what it’s all about for the  22-year-old.

“It means so much to me,” he said. “It makes me fight 10 times harder.”

He wasn’t too worried about his little sister’s fight, either.

“I know she’s got it,” he said. “I ain’t worried.”

Got it, she did.

Marissa dominated her opponent from the opening bell to the end of round three. There was joy on her face as official Butch McNeely raised  her hand.

“I was really nervous,” Marissa said. “I wanted to fill my mom’s shoes. I didn’t know if I was going to be as good as her, but I feel I did pretty good.”

Both Dell and Marissa will have the opportunity to cement the Long family name tonight, as they make a run for the championship.

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Also competing was former Independence High School wrestler Shawn “The Warrior” Sexton.

Sexton came to the ring looking composed ahead of his victorious fight with Steve Carte. He’s spent the last month working out with  legendary boxing trainer Carl Murdock in Mt. Hope.

“I’ve been working on cardio, speed work and  bag work,” Sexton said.

Sexton was a runner-up in last month’s Rough N’  Rowdy Brawl  in Welch. He hopes to come away with a championship this time  around.

“I enjoy boxing a lot,” he said. “I just want to win. It puts me back in competition and I enjoy that.”

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The 34th Annual Southern West  Virginia Original Toughman Contest will continue tonight at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the convention center  box office.

— E-mail: jrollins  and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins