The Contender (TV series)

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The Contender
Created by Mark Burnett
Starring Sugar Ray Leonard (seasons 1-3)
Sylvester Stallone (season 1)
Tony Danza (season 4)
Theme music composer Hans Zimmer
Composer(s) Jeff Lippencott and Mark T. Williams, Ah2 Music
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Running time Varies
Production company(s) Mark Burnett Productions
DreamWorks Television
ESPN Original Entertainment (2006–2008)
Original network NBC (2005)
ESPN (2006–2008)
Versus (2008)
Original release March 7, 2005 – 2008

The Contender is a reality television series that follows a group of boxers as they compete with one another in an elimination-style competition, while their lives and relationships with each other and their families are depicted. Produced by Mark Burnett, the show is hosted by Sugar Ray Leonard, who shared hosting duties in the first season with actor Sylvester Stallone. Leonard also serves as a trainer on the show, along with Tommy Gallagher. During the first season, boxing manager Jackie Kallen also served as counsel to the boxers.

The show ran for fifteen weeks through 2005 on NBC in the United States of America. The show ran in the UK on ITV2 and was repeated later in the week on ITV, and now airs on ITV4. It also aired on AXN in India, and on the Spanish language network Telemundo. The second season, featuring welterweight contenders, premiered in the U.S. on Tuesday, July 18, 2006, at 10 pm ET/PT, on ESPN. The third season, featuring super middleweight contenders, premiered in the U.S. on Tuesday, September 4, 2007, at 10 pm ET/PT, on ESPN. The fourth season, featuring cruiserweight contenders, premiered in the U.S. on Wednesday, December 3, 2008, at 10 pm ET/PT, on Versus.

The series’ tagline is “The Next Great Human Drama”, and its soundtrack was scored by Hans Zimmer. Before the show premiered, rival US television Fox network rushed to air a competing show The Next Great Champ, hosted by Oscar de la Hoya. The show performed very poorly, with the final episodes being relegated to cable FSN. In an effort to distance itself from the Fox disaster, NBC opted to hold airing its show until spring 2005.

The show takes the format of a gameshow, with the boxers divided into two teams based on their place of residence in the United States: East Coast or West Coast (or simply “East” and “West”). These teams live together in group living quarters, in Pasadena, California in the historic Royal Laundry Building on Raymond Avenue, and compete for the right to choose which of their team members fights that week, and who he fights against. Most of the second half of the hour-long episodes are devoted to that fight: the loser is eliminated.

On February 14, 2005, one of the 16 contestants, Najai Turpin, despondent over personal matters, committed suicide, shooting himself while sitting with his girlfriend in a parked car outside the West Philadelphia gym where he trained. In his memory, the producers set up a trust fund for his daughter Anyae. The show still aired in its entirety, but with a special tribute to Turpin.

On May 16, 2005, the series was cancelled. The first season cost NBC $2,000,000 per episode. Reruns were seen on CNBC. On August 11, 2005, ESPN announced that it was picking up the rights to a second season of the show,[1] which began airing on the network in July 2006, although special editions under the Contender title are currently airing as of March, 2006. ESPN also announced that it has options to renew the series for two additional seasons. However, on April 10, 2008, ESPN announced that it was canceling the series. Executive producer Jeff Wald maintained that the show would continue on another network.[2] It was later announced the show would move to Versus.


Season Broadcaster Airdate Presenter Trainers Winner Runner Up
1 NBC 2005 Sugar Ray Leonard & Sylvester Stallone Tommy Gallagher
Jeremy Williams
Dub Huntley
Sergio "The Latin Snake" Mora Peter “The Pride of Providence” Manfredo Jr.
2 ESPN July 18, 2006 - September 26, 2006 Sugar Ray Leonard Tommy Gallagher
Jeremy Williams
Grady "Bad Boy" Brewer Steve "2 Pound" Forbes
3 September 4, 2007 - November 6, 2007 Sugar Ray Leonard Buddy McGirt
Pepe Correa
Carlos Vargas
Romnick Dongiapon
Sakio Bika Jaidon Codrington
4 Versus December 3, 2008 Tony Danza Tommy Brooks
John Bray
Troy Ross Ehinomen "Hino" Ehikhamenor

International versions[edit]

Country Title Broadcaster Presenters Original run Trainers
Asia The Contender Asia AXN Stephan Fox & Jaymee Ong January 16, 2008 – April 23, 2008
 Australia The Contender Australia Fox8 Charlotte Dawson & Daniel Amalm 3 November 2009 Billy Hussien (Blue Team) & Paul Briggs (Gold Team)

Related shows[edit]

On October 17, 2010, the Ukrainian show Ty – ChempionТи чемпіон», translated as You are the Champion), the adaptation of NBC's The Contender, started on Ukrayina TV channel.[3][4] The 10-episode show is hosted by Kostya Tszyu, Alina Shaternikova (both are professional boxers) and Denis Nikiforov (the star of Shadowboxing 2005 film).[5] There are 13 contenders and all are current or former professional and amateur boxers.[6] in the Finale fight for 1,000,000 UAH on December 12, 2010 David "Dato" Tabatadze took revenge on Bogdan Protsyshin.[7] Previously in round 1 (show's episode 4) on November 7, 2010 Bogdan Protsyshin won the fight,[8][9] but later Tabatadze returned to the show thanks to viewers SMS votes.[10] The Finale received rating/share 3,7%/8,4% of 50,000 18+ age and 3%/7,8% of 50,000+ 14–49 age viewers.[11] According to Kostya Tszyu, the season 2 of the show is in considering for production.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "'The Contender' to begin second season on ESPN". ESPN. August 12, 2005. Retrieved November 17, 2016. 
  2. ^ The Contender: Boxing Series Cancelled for a Second Time – Will It Return for Round Three? | TV Series Finale
  3. ^ Anischenko, Sergiy (October 13, 2010). "Ukrainian TV channel launches new reality project". Ukrinform. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Ти чемпіон" стартував з часткою 6,61% ["You are the Champion" Started with a Share of 6.61%] (in Ukrainian). «Телекритика» ( October 18, 2010. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Ти чемпіон" на "Україні" матиме 10 випусків, половина вийде в прямому ефірі ["Ukrayina" channel's "You are the Champion" will have 10 episodes, half will live] (in Ukrainian). «Телекритика» ( October 12, 2010. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  6. ^ Ти чемпіон ::: Учасники | ТРК Україна [You are the Champion ::: The Contenders | TЕLEVISUAL & BROADCASTING JOINT – STOCK COMPANY "UKRAINE"] (in Ukrainian). Ukrayina TV channel. October 2010. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  7. ^ В шоу "Ти чемпіон" определили сильнейшего боксера (in Russian). МедиаБизнес ( December 14, 2010. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  8. ^ Табатадзе сенсаційно програв новачку (in Ukrainian). digital ventures ( November 8, 2010. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  9. ^ "David Tabatadze profile at". December 2010. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  10. ^ Володимир Мула (December 13, 2010). Давид Табатадзе став переможцем проекту "Ти чемпіон" (in Ukrainian). ТелеПростір ( Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  11. ^ Финал "Ти чемпіон" на телеканале "Украина": лучшие показатели ноября и декабря, – "МедиаБизнес" (in Russian). МедиаБизнес ( December 13, 2010. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  12. ^ Костя Цзю: "ТРК Украина" предложили мне очень хитрый контракт" (in Russian). МедиаНяня ( December 14, 2010. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 

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