Daniel Hensley and Jason Smith have a great opportunity.
And that is to box and win in front of their hometown fans.
Hensley, who recently came out of retirement, is scheduled to fight on Saturday night during the final evening of the Coal Area Toughman at Logan High School’s Willie Akers Arena.
Smith is scheduled to have his fight on Friday night on the first night of the Toughman weekend at Logan.
Bell time for both nights is slated for 7:30 p.m.
More than 80 men and women have already signed up to fight at this year’s amateur boxing event but the two professional bouts will highlight the entire weekend.
On Friday, Logan’s Jason Smith (5-1, 3 KO’s) will fight a four-round bout against James Denson of Akron, Ohio.
Then on Saturday, Nov. 10, “The Fighting Coalminer” Daniel Hensley (6-0) of Chapmanville will fight a four-round bout versus Orion Bolds of Canton, Ohio.
Both Smith and Hensley are former Toughman Champions and fan favorites. Both bouts are in the light heavyweight class.
Hensley stepped back into the ring last June and won a four-round unanimous decision over Ohio native Gonzales Jones in a boxing card which was held at Logan. It was the first pro fight for Hensley in 12 years.
Smith’s opponent Denson has a win over Ryan Britton, who fought and lost to Verdunville pro Jordan Moore at last year’s Logan Toughman.
Veteran Toughman promoter Jerry Thomas said he’s thrilled to have Hensley and Smith on the card. Hensley has been a mainstay at the Logan area Toughman for more than a decade as he has served as a trainer.
“I was able to watch a video of that fight,” Thomas said of the Hensley-Jones bout. “I was impressed. Daniel had been off for about 12 years. Daniel had started training his son who is in amateur boxing. Then he got the urge to get back in there after sparring and training with his son. It’s going to be an interesting bout and I’m looking forward to seeing Daniel. Daniel has been a great friend of ours and has been working with us for many many years throughout his Toughman career. He then had his first four or five bouts on my events back in the 1990s. He’s been working as a trainer at the Logan Toughman pretty much ever since he starting boxing.”
Thomas said Hensley will be a big draw for the fans.
“There’s a lot of interest. Everybody likes Daniel,” Thomas said. “He’s a great guy and a tough fighter. He’s pretty much the epitomy of what Toughman is all about. He was a coal miner. He’s still in the mining industry. He came up through the ranks, did well and just continued. He won the Logan event twice and has had six professional bouts. This will be his seventh. He’s also been transitioning into a trainer of fighters. He just told me a week or so ago that he’s working on putting together a boxing gym in Chapmanville. That would be great. We’re encouraging that and we’re going to help in any way that we can. The more the merrier.”
Thomas said Hensley’s idea for a gym would work out.
“I’ve seen this kind of transition a lot over the years. I’ve been involved 35 years,” Thomas said. “Many of the boxers who do well in Toughman turn pro and then after that the next phase is that they become a trainer or an official or in some cases, both. It’s always great to have someone like Daniel work with the kids and show the fighters what they’ve learned. It’s a natural transition and a good one. Can you imagine being a teenage boxer and going into a gym and be able to work with someone with years and years experience with some like Daniel?”
Smith was on the Logan Toughman card in the past — both as a pro and an amateur.
“He’s also a former Toughman champion,” Thomas said. “Until he made his comeback this year after about five years of inactivity his last bout had been at Logan on the Toughman card about five years ago. He’s a real nice guy and he’s from the Logan area. At one time he was a deputy sheriff in Mingo County and had been in the timber business. He’s another success story very similar to Daniel Hensley. In fact, these two guys have been doing a lot of sparring and training together recently. They’ve been friends for years. It’s nice to have these guys back. Daniel said it’s nice to be back to where it all started for him.”