The Border Bowl Ironman Award is the most prestigeous award presented by the Border Bowl Committee.


The Ironman Award is presented to individuals who have excelled in life despite adversity and unique experiences.  These individuals have exhibited leadership qualities not often found.  They have shown courage and the desire to become the very best.  The recipients of the Border Bowl Ironman Award have earned the highest level of respect through demonstrated leadership and their examples of never giving up.




Inky Johnson was the first recipient of the Border Bowl Ironman Award.  Mr. Johnson was a college football player at the University of Tennessee.  What began as a normal college football game in Neyland Stadium became a life changing event for Inky Johnson.   A routine tackle turned into a life-threatening injury, leaving Inky paralyzed in his right arm.  Inky has since completed his college degree and finished a master's degree in sports psychology.  


Phillip Fulmer is a former head football coach of the University of Tennessee, compiling an impressive 152-52 record.  He coached the Volunteers in their first ever BCS National Championship Game in 1998, defeating Florida State University.  Coach Fulmer guided Tennessee to 2 SEC Championships, 6 SEC Eastern Division Championships.  He was named SEC Coach of the Year (1998), AFCA Coach of the Year (1998), Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (1998), George Munger Award (1998), Home Depot Coach of the Year (1998), Sporting News College Football Coach of the Year (1998), and was named to the

College Football Hall of Fame (2012).  

Dewayne Bunch, a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, spent 23 years with the Kentucky National Guard, including a tour of duty in Iraq.  Mr. Bunch was  also a Mathematics and Science teacher at Whitley County High School, where he was injured while attempting to break up a fight.  Mr. Bunch died from his injuries one year later.  The Border Bowl Ironman Award was presented in his honor to his wife, Regina Bunch.