The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

March 28, 2010

Toughman: Thomas wins pro fight by unanimous decision

BECKLEY — Bobby Thomas Sr., the former West Virginia cruiserweight, walked into his son’s dressing room and proudly proclaimed that his son Bobby Thomas Jr. had fought “the best fight my baby has ever fought.”

Junior didn’t disagree.

Thomas, of Oak Hill, won a unanimous decision over Winchester, Va.’s Danny “Demon Alcohol” Shaw Saturday at the main event of the 31st Annual Southern West Virginia Toughman Contest at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.

“He was tough, but I never underestimate anyone,” Thomas said. “He’s 7-4 but those are the guys you have to worry about. I was confident and I felt that I controlled the whole fight.”

The only question was when Thomas went down in the second round but that was more from tangled feet than anything Shaw threw at Thomas (now 4-1).

Thomas was content to wear Shaw down with blow after blow to the body.

“That was the plan,” Thomas said. “Work the body and wear him down.”

And it worked to perfection.

In wearing Shaw down early, Thomas was able to stick him with a series of staggering shots as he took control and won the fight.

It was Thomas’ first fight in the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center since winning the Toughman in 2001.

The site motivated the Oak Hill native.

“I hadn’t fought here in a long time but it is always great in here because the crowd is always behind me,” Thomas said. “I’d like to fight here every time I have a fight.”

Thomas will fight again in Wheeling April 24.

Mallory Grogg has found a balance between being a mother and being a fighter.

The 2008 champion, who was fighting for the 2010 crowd Saturday night, didn’t fight last year.

Her son Brock, 14-month’s old, was born two months before last year’s Toughman Contest, meaning she couldn’t defend her crown.

“It wasn’t tough missing the (Toughman) last year,” Grogg said after beating Vanessa Halsey by decision to reach the finals. “There are more important things.

“But I like to compete, so I felt if I could do it this year, I’d get back in. I worked out after bedtime or I’d do it early, working around (Brock’s) schedule.”

Fighting isn’t new to Grogg.

As a youngster, the daughter of former Wyoming East coach Kevin Grogg, grew up around boys.

“So if they needed an extra person to play football, it was drag Mallory along,” she said, laughing. “I grew up around boys and I learned pretty early how to hold my own.”

Former Toughman and retired undefeated professional boxer Butch McNeely, a 26-year ring official and Mullens native, urged her to give the ring a try when she turned 18.

“I figured that I loved to compete,” said Grogg, who played college basketball and tennis and Alderson-Broaddus and West Virginia State. “So I decided to try it and I ended up winning.”

What will she tell her soon about her exploits.

“I just want him to know, when he’s old enough, that it is more boxing than brawling,” Grogg said. “I would hope he would be proud of me.”

And he certainly won’t give mom any lip, right?

“He’d better not,” Grogg said, laughing.

The attendance was outstanding, considering the Toughman was going against the WVU-UK Elite Eight game.

When WVU’s 73-66 win was announced, the crowd went wild as “Country Roads” played on the loudspeaker.

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