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BUTTE – Ka-Pow. Right in the kisser.

An ambitious boxing league project is being undertaken by Butte Toughman Contest promoter Bob LeCoure. The circuit is to feature weekly cards in Butte, Billings, Great Falls and Missoula over a 26-week period. The endeavor is a kind of Toughman Contest spin-off patterned after a successful and similar league started by former Butte fighter Jerry Miller in Anchorage, Alaska.

“This might be the goofiest thing I’ve tried to do yet,” said LeCoure, who has also promoted amateur and professional boxing cards in Butte through the years.

The club boxing league, dubbed “Bob LeCoure’s $150,000 Club Boxing,” is scheduled for a Sept. 24 debut at the Shrine Auditorium in Billings. The following night, bouts are set to open the new Northwest Center arena in Great Falls.

Then, on Sept. 26, the site will the National Guard Armory in Missoula before Butte plays host on Sept. 27 at the new Club Boxing Center, which LeCoure said will be housed on south Harrison Avenue next to the Quality Supply store.

The league wants to maintain a weekly schedule of Mondays in Billings, Tuesdays in Great Falls, Wednesdays in Missoula and Thursdays in Butte, LeCoure said, adding that he hopes to add Kalispell to the slate sometime this winter.

Need an arena“We need to find an arena, someplace there to have it, first,” LeCoure said. “That’s why we’re not going there right away. If anybody has a warehouse or a large room of some kind that could hold a lot of people where we could put this on up there, I’d like to hear from them.”

LeCoure is not just recruiting arenas. He also needs officials – referees, judges, timekeepers, announcers, cornermen, physicians, etc. – and, of course, fighters.

He said inexperienced boxers are the target for this attempt, but that those with previous amateur boxing and/or Toughman Contest experience are also eligible. Early plans, he said, are to match those with no or very limited experienced in the first three bouts each night, and those with more in the last four. Boxers are responsible for their own training and training facilities, LeCoure said.

“We want totally green fighters in the first three bouts,” he said. “We want 80 percent of the entries in Club Boxing to be guys who have never fought before.”

Winners earn dollarsWinners of the preliminary bouts each evening will earn $125 and losers will get $50, LeCoure said, while main-event combatants will be paid $250 for winning with losers getting $100. Also, five points will be awarded for each win and three for each loss. New boxers must get five club boxing bouts under their belts before they will be considered for main-event status, LeCoure said.

A championship tournament with five weight classes, eight boxers per weight class, will then be held at the end of the season with qualifiers to be determined by the 5-point/3-point system, LeCoure said.

“So, the more a guy fights, the more money he can win and the more points he earns,” he said. “This prevents a guy with maybe more experience and ability from sitting out the first part of the schedule, then jumping in at the end and fighting for the championships and earning the money while some guy who fought and worked hard all year can’t.”

A top prize of up to $2,000 will be at stake in the tournament championship, LeCoure said. More than $150,000 will be awarded through the season, he said.

For the regular season, no weight classes will be set, he said. Instead, fighters will be matched according to weight and experience among those signed up for the nights of specific weeks and dates. No more than a 10-pound weight difference between those matched for a fight, except for t hose boxing at 185 pounds and over, will be allowed, he said.

Bouts will be three 90-second rounds with 90-second rest periods between. No use of elbows, knees, teeth or feet will be allowed. Boxers must be 18 years or older, up to age 45. Some older than 45 wanting to compete will be considered, but only with a doctor’s written recommen dation presented to the Montana State Board of Athletics, which holds final approval, LeCoure said.

Fourteen-ounce gloves will be used for bouts up to 150 pounds, 16-ounce one s for fights in heavier classes. Headgear, mouthpieces and groin protectors will be mandatory. A women’s division is also planned and breast protectors will be required for women’s matches. Each boxer will be assessed a $50 entry fee good for the season. The fee includes state licensing, LeCoure said.

Events sanctionedLeCoure said the project has received sanctioning from the state board of athletics, chaired by Gary Langley.

Also, he said, a special amateur division is planned for fighters aged 16-17. They will not be allowed to compete for prize money, but will receive other awards yet to be determined. LeCoure said the awards for that division will be “merchandise, something nice – jackets or something along that line. It won’t be a $3 trophy.” The 16-17-year-olds must have written permission from a parent or guardian before being allowed to compete, LeCoure said.

Each participating town will have its own matchmaker with Kevin McCarl responsible for the pairings in Billings, former Olympian and pro boxer Todd Foster in Great Falls, Marc LeCoure (Bob’s brother) in Missoula and Bobby LeCoure (son of the promoter) in Butte.

“What distinguishes this from Toughman,” LeCoure said, “is that I always have 10 to 15 guys who want in Toughman who weigh 135, 140 to 155 pounds that I h ave to turn away because 160 is the minimum for Toughman fights. So, at least, the lighter guys can now participate while they never could in Toughman.”

Beer and liquor will be sold at all the Club Boxing events, LeCourse said, adding that security will be provided.

Also, he said, a ring-card girl competition is planned for each card. Cash prizes will be awarded with a $1,000 grand prize to be given the overall winner, he said.

LeCoure said he expects each card to last about two hours with 7:30 p.m. start times.

Officials must be licensed through the state board and the fee is $20 he said. Those interested in being officials, which are paid positions, LeCoure said, must present resumes regarding boxing knowledge to the board, he said.

“They don’t have boxing experience, but have to know enough about it to know what they’re doing,” LeCoure said, noting that podiatrists and chiropractors have been added to the list of those eligible to be ringside physicians.

A physician assigned to a particular night’s card must also examine each fighter scheduled to compete that night, LeCoure said.

The physicians will also examine each fighter prior to each card, LeCoure said.

An advertising procurement flyer from Miller said that Thursday Night at the Fights, the Anchorage club boxing show, is in its 12th year and averages 45-50,000 fans over a 24-week schedule. The flyer said Miller’s organization is negotiating for a national television contract.

“I’m hoping we can average 800 a night in attendance,” LeCoure said.

Preliminary ticket prices for LeCoure’s league lists ticket prices at $10 general admission, $15 ringside and $25 front row.

Those interested in working in any of the official capacities at the fight sites may contact LeCoure, toll-free at 1-888-702-4007, for more information, he said. Those interested in boxing or being ring-card girls may contact him at the same number, or, he said, the matchmakers: McCarl, 410-1069; Foster, 771-7870; Marc LeCoure, 777-3481; or Bobby LeCoure, 723-4007.

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