A talented World Mixed Martial Arts Association fighter is scheduled to showcase his skills from noon to 3 p.m., May 3 at the Payson Athletic Club.
Joe Hurley, a 24-year-old member of the Ken Shamrock Lions Den fighting club and a former King of the Cage lightweight champion, will demonstrate his brand of submission fighting in the PAC's aerobics' room.
The Lions Den club which Hurley represents has built a reputation as one of the top fighting teams in mixed martial arts history. As a lightweight, Hurley is listed as 5 feet, 8 inches in height and tips the scale at 158 pounds.
According to Eric Nyenhuis, who is serving as press secretary for the fighter while he is in Payson, Hurley's visit will draw statewide attention to the Rim country.
Admission is $10 for spectators; $50 to participate. A portion of the money raised will go to the Payson High School physical education department.
Barbecue and baseball tonight
Today (Friday) represents one of the unique opportunities in small town life when Rim country residents have the chance to experience the camaraderie Payson is so well known for.
From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the concession stand located between the PHS softball and baseball fields, renowned barbecue chef Albert Hunt, and a throng of helpers, will be serving up deep pit, slow-roasted beef along with cowboy beans, salad and beverages. Tickets are $5 per person and may be purchased at the concession stand or from any Longhorn baseball or softball player.
The meal is guaranteed to be lip-smacking delicious and all the proceeds will benefit the softball and baseball squads. The profits should be substantial since Hunt is offering his services free of charge and Roy Haught Excavating has donated a full side of beef to be barbecued. Volunteers, including many parents of the players, also have offered their services.
Lady Longhorn softball scorekeeper Charlene Hunt, who is spearheading the benefit, advises everyone to bring a lawn chair and a sweatshirt or light coat. She also suggests fans arrive early because a big crowd is anticipated.
In addition to the dinner, there will be plenty of sports action to enjoy.
At 4 p.m., both the jayvee softball and baseball teams will play host to the Show Low Cougars. The underclass showdowns will be followed at 7 p.m. by varsity baseball and softball games against the Cougars. At stake are advantageous seeds into the state tournaments. Since Payson and Show Low began locking horns in the now defunct Class 1A East region in 1983, the two schools have enjoyed a fierce, but friendly, rivalry.
When the Longhorns and Cougars clash tonight, it will be the final time the schools will meet as region opponents.
Next year, Payson moves to the Class 4A conference's Grand Canyon region and will play the likes of Sinagua, Coconino, Mingus, Flagstaff, Tuba City and Page.
The games tonight represent a final opportunity for players and fans alike to experience the athletic thrills that have been a big part of sports life among the Beasts of the East.
There are some of us old-timers who are going to miss the rivalry that went along with challenging the Cougars, Yellow Jackets, Falcons, Lobos and Elks.