NEW YORK – September 8, 2017 – Today, SHOWTIME announced the premiere of TOUGH GUYS, a feature-length documentary that explores origins and the development of the mixed martial arts (MMA) movement. Executive produced by critically acclaimed filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) and Academy Award winner Ross Kauffman (Born Into Brothels), the film will premiere Friday, Sept. 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME.
Told through the colorful first-hand accounts of scrappy brawlers and amateur promoters, TOUGH GUYS brings to life the loosely regulated mixed martial arts competitions of 1980s Pittsburgh that served as a precursor to what has now become a global phenomenon.
“When I was around 12 years old, my dad took me to my first tough man competition in my hometown of Beckley, W.V., and I have to admit, it was one of the greatest things I’d ever seen,” said Spurlock. “So when the opportunity came along for me help tell the story of its origin, I jumped at the chance. TOUGH GUYS is an unbelievable tale about the creation of this one of a kind, man against man, skill against skill, sport of the ages. Films like this are rare discoveries, and the characters behind them are even more incredible. If you like watching guys get punched in the face as much as I do, then you are going to love this movie.”
“I saw talent right away in these young filmmakers and wanted to help them tell their story,” Kauffman said. “At first glance, TOUGH GUYS seemed like a nice departure from some of my more serious documentary work. But at its core TOUGH GUYS is about underdogs striving to achieve the impossible. In TOUGH GUYS, the underdog is America’s working class who are searching for respect and, ultimately, a way to survive. When I got involved I didn’t know how timely the story would be.”
These personal accounts of the original “tough guys” – fighters, promoters and fans who were entrenched in early MMA in western Pennsylvania – are coupled with archival footage and rarely seen photos to portray a grassroots competition that both skirted the law and paved the way for the development of modern mixed martial arts.
TOUGH GUYS is directed by Henry Roosevelt and W.B. Zullo and produced by award-winning commercial producer Craig DiBiase. The film is executive produced by Kauffman and Spurlock, Founder and CEO of Warrior Poets, as well as their respective producing partners, Raeshem Nijhon and Jeremy Chilnick.