Word spreads about ‘ultimate fighting’

by John Jacobsen

Blood, sweat and screams are just a sampling of the entertainment at Toad Holler’s Wednesday Fight Night on Army Post Road on the south side of Des Moines.

“People come in off the streets and want to fight and we give them an opportunity to do that here in a controlled environment,” Chad Mason, fight promoter, said.

Fighters are paired with others of comparable weight and then choose from four styles of fights. “We have a lot of regulars that come and fight-a certain style that works best for them,” said Mason.

From submission wrestling, boxing, kick boxing and “no holds barred” wrestling, Toad Holler gives the audience of between 500-900 on Wednesday night something to yell about.

Usually the night consists of 12-20 fights and a wet t-shirt contest later on in the evening.

“I have fought a total of four times, said former Simpson student Tim Hartman. “I just came to see what it was all about and ended up fighting.”

As the night progresses, the smoke gets thicker, the smell of alcohol grows more pungent and the crowd gets a little more rowdy. These senses are all part of the infectious atmosphere for this Wednesday night event that started last August.

Spectators thrive off the energy and intensity of the fighters. “I have come the past couple weeks and I have had a lot of fun,” Des Moines resident Zack Grubb said, adding that even though it is fun to watch, he would never step into the ring.

For others fighters, their motivation to improve their fitness and find that competitive spirit drives them to participate.

“It really gave me some motivation to get in shape. It is just a personal thing for me,” said fighter Brandon College.

“It is a way to test myself and I really miss the competition that comes with sports,” said Hartman. “I am definitely going to fight again.”

Despite little promotion besides word-of-mouth, the crowd has grown significantly since its start last year.

“I heard about this from friends who had come and really had a good time,” said Grubb.

This trend is not limited to Des Moines. Many other cities carry such events. “I know that they have these fights in Cedar Rapids, Lincoln, Omaha, and Waterloo,” said Mason. Despite all the punches and kicks throughout the night, Mason said the injuries at the Des Moines site are kept relatively minor. “Some people have gotten stitches, but that is it,” Mason said.

There are no prizes for winning, since it is considered amateur fighting. All prospective fighters have to do is be 18-years-old, sign a release waiver and pick a fighting style for that night.

For many, this is a way to fill time on a normally dull night. “There really is not much to do on Wednesday night,” spectator Matt Molyneux said. “For $8 I can come and watch the fights.”