Jessa Lemoine trains for the Boston Iron's season opener. Credit: Boston Iron
Fetishes aside, watching men and women lift weights at your local gym isn’t typically considered “entertaining.”
But a co-ed, two-hour, take-no-prisoners relay race that involves tossing barbells around? That’s something. It might not overtake Sunday Night Football in the ratings anytime soon. But it is something.
Boston’s Josh Plosker – owner and GM of the Boston Iron - is betting that interest in the National Pro Grid League will grow because of intrigue itself. It’s a sport that’s hard to explain – but think of it as some combination of American Gladiators meets CrossFit meets American Ninja Warrior meets Olympic weightlifting.
The NPGL describes itself as a combination of “strategy, brute physical power and agility” and Plosker and the league’s other owners from across the United States have big goals regarding the future of the sport.
“We want to operate and be like any other major pro sports league,” said Plosker, who owns several gyms in Boston. “We’re seeing the world of functional fitness explode and to make a professional league out of it, I thought, was a great idea. I thought it was a great opportunity, that this thing could have some legs and eventually be something special.”
The league got off the ground last Wednesday as the New York Rhinos beat the LA Reign, 20-15, at Madison Square Garden. Plosker’s Boston Iron, meanwhile, made their debut at the Tsongas Center in Lowell on Sunday, losing to the Miami Surge, 21-15.
The Iron will be in action again on Sept. 7 at San Francisco and on Sept. 11 at Phoenix and could make their national TV debut in late September if all goes well. The NPGL quarterfinals will be broadcast on NBCSN on Sept. 23 and 24 and the final in early October will be broadcast on NBC from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Spencer Hendel and the Boston Iron will be back in action on Sept. 7. Credit: Boston Iron
Who are these guys/gals? The Iron features athletes from all over the globe including Iceland, Australia, Sweden and Canada. Boston’s Spencer Hendel is one of the bigger names with one of the bigger frames at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds.
“[Hendel] is a phenomenal athlete that can do just about everything,” said Ploskar.
How are these athletes recruited? There are combines and there is a draft process.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter:@BurkeMetroBOS