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Some fights at the Rough N Rowdy Brawl were over in less than a minute, others lasted almost 10 minutes.

The Rough N Rowdy Brawl in Charleston featured a variety of fighters with vastly different skill sets.


Justin Adkins, a 19-year-old high school student from Logan, trained at Butch Hiles Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & MMA, in Charleston, and fought during the recent Rough N Rowdy Brawl.


Courtney Overstreet trains to fight during the Rough N Rowdy Brawl at the Charleston Civic Center. She did pretty well, winning her matches.


Early on, while making plans to spend a month learning some self-defense, we discussed entering the Rough N Rowdy Brawl, which was coming up at the Charleston Civic Center.

If I timed it right, the event would fall right toward the end of my training and could have been a kind of finish line.

What if I began picking up radio signals in my fillings or found a million dollars in my couch cushions — both seemed more likely than even surviving a single round of an amateur boxing contest.

Years ago, a co-worker’s ex-husband entered a tough-man contest at the Brushfork Armory in Bluefield.

His name was John, and John was a big ol’ farm boy — something like 6-feet-5-inches and about 260 or 270 pounds.

His ex-wife called him an oaf (among other things), but ogre was probably closer to the truth. John was a shaggy, mountain of a man, with a bit of a gut, but he was stronger than a plow horse.

John worked on heavy machines and trucks for a living, had a very physically demanding job and spent his free time tending the family property and getting into the occasional bar fight.

When he entered the contest, my co-worker said she hoped he’d get his a-- kicked, but didn’t expect that to happen.

She was right. John won that weekend in Bluefield and put the man he fought for the title in the hospital with a bunch of broken ribs.

As excited as I was to get to use my medical insurance just before the Affordable Care Act gets scuttled, I declined the very probable beat down.

Training for a couple of weeks for a real fight could work, he acknowledged. His gym had seen people come in and after a short time do very well in some competitions, but those results weren’t typical.

So I stuck with my self-defense classes, but I asked around about the brawl. A few people planned to fight.

The Muay Thai and Krav Maga instructor, Benji Clere, told me he’d been training a couple of fighters. One of them, Courtney Overstreet, had been training specifically to enter the Rough N Rowdy Brawl.

A short but sturdily built woman, the 26-year-old said she got into fighting first as exercise and a different way to lose weight, but also because fighting suited her personality.

“I was always a tomboy. I used to wrestle with my dad,” she said, beaming. “When I was a little girl, I’d be on him as soon as he got through the door from work.”

In the basement of Butch Hiles Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & MMA, Courtney slipped into a boxer’s stance and brutalized a punching bag. Moving clockwise, she jabbed and hooked the bag with surprising force and a lot of intensity.

She did half a dozen laps around the bag before finally stopping, out of breath and ready for a break.

Justin Adkins, a mild-mannered and wiry 19-year-old high school student from Logan was the other fighter Benji introduced me to.

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“I’d never been in a fight before I started coming here,” he said. “Not at school, not on the bus, not anywhere.”

But he’d always wanted to. He’d craved the combat and then began coming to the gym a couple of years ago.