Category: Sports

RIP: Scott Hall

Scott Hall, the professional wrestler also known as Razor Ramon, died today after being taken off life support.  Mr. Hall was placed on life support after having three heart attacks following hip replacement surgery.  He was 63 years old.

Scott Hall began his pro wrestling career in 1984 and wrestled for all the major professional wrestling organizations throughout his career.  During the WWE / WCW ratings war, Scott Hall was part of the NWO (a group of wrestlers which included Kevin Nash, Hulk Hogan and others who played outsiders taking over the WCW).  The NWO were a ratings hit.  Scott Hall is a two-time inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Scott Hall was a charismatic personality who entertained millions over the course of his career.  His struggles outside the ring were sometimes made part of his wrestling storylines and impacted both his personal and professional life.  The fact that Scott Hall’s family, many friends and fans continued to support his efforts to get healthy are a testament to the impact he had.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Scott Hall’s family, friends and fans.

Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes (2018) / Z-View

Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes (2018)

Director:  Robert S. Bader

Writers:  Robert S. Bader, Dick Cavett

Starring:  Muhammad Ali, Dick Cavett, Joe Frazier, Woody Allen, Jimmy Breslin, Jim Brown, Howard Cosell, Angelo Dundee, Louis Farrakhan, Martin Luther King, Jerry Lewis, Joe Louis, Thomas Hauser. Lester Maddox. Norman Mailer, Malcolm X, Michael Marley  and Larry Merchant.

Tagline: None.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes is a wonderful documentary chronicling the life and boxing career of Muhammad Ali using clips from the Dick Cavett Show as the glue holding it together.  Ali not only led an interesting life, but lived in interesting and turbulent times.  It is fascinating to see how social changes and outside influences impacted Ali’s career.  As Ali matured he became more of his own man, the only three-time heavyweight champion and the most famous athlete in the world.  It’s an interesting journey and rates 5 of 5 stars!

“When We Were Kings” (1996) / Z-View

When We Were Kings (1996)

Director:  Leon Gast

Starring:  Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Don King, James Brown, B.B. King, Spike Lee, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, The Spinners and Howard Cosell..

Tagline:  The untold story of the Rumble in the Jungle.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

When We Were Kings is the Academy Award-winning documentary of the championship fight between the undefeated (40-0) Heavyweight Champion of the World, George Foreman and his challenger, Muhammad Ali, who was a 4-1 underdog.  Promoter, Don King had contracts that paid each fighter $5 million and the backing of Mobutu Sese Seko, President of Zaire, who saw the fight as an opportunity to shine a positive light on his country.  To that end, the fight became a culminating event of a festival that included performances by The Spinners, B.B. King and James Brown.

Leon Gast, using archival footage and interviews does an excellent job in presenting the backstories of Ali and Foreman as well as the fight’s historical significance.  Ali had refused to enter the draft, became a Muslim and had changed his name from Cassius Clay.  While many Americans had developed a dislike for Ali, he was dearly loved by the population of Zaire.  George Foreman, was an Olympic Gold Medalist who proudly represented the USA, was the undefeated Champion of the World and the man who many thought would destroy Ali. The stage was set for what many thought would be the fight to end Muhammad Ali’s career… and yet, Ali once again shocks the world!

When We Were Kings is one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen.  It pulls you in, sets the historical context of the events, provides backstories on the key players while at the same time being entertaining.  When We Were Kings rates 5 of 5 stars.

RIP: John Madden

John Madden, the Super Bowl winning NFL coach (who never had a losing season), the 12-time Emmy Award winner for sports broadcasting, and the namesake for one of the all-time best-selling video games died unexpectedly yesterday at the age of 85.  No cause of death was given.

John Madden was an all-conference college football (offensive tackle) and baseball (catcher) player.  Although he suffered a knee injury during his senior year, John Madden was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1958.  A second knee injury during training camp ended his pro career before he ever played a game.  From 1960 – 1966, Madden excelled as a college football coach which brought him to the attention of Al Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders.  Davis hired Madden as a Linebacker Coach in 1967.  In 1969, John Madden was named the Head Coach of the Raiders (making him the youngest Head Coach in the NFL).  Mr. Madden served as the Raiders Head Coach for ten years, winning one Super Bowl, never finishing below 2nd place in their division and never having a losing season.

After retiring as Head Coach of the Raiders, John Madden turned to television where he quickly became one of the most popular and respected sports broadcasters of all time.  John Madden’s popularity was so great he was sought after for commercials as well as television & movie appearances and the ever-popular Madden video game from EA Sports.

Watching John Madden’s Raiders was always fun, but watching a John Madden sports broadcast was even better.  John Madden knew the game and made his analysis fun.  Mr. Madden came off like the guy you’d like to hang out with at the family bar-b-que.  You knew he’d have great stories to share, and would enjoy the food, talk and fellowship. 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to John Madden’s family, friends and fans. 

“Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Netflix comes up with interesting documentaries and Blood Brothers looks to be another good one.  Deal me in.

Blood Brothers tells the extraordinary and ultimately tragic story of the friendship between two of the most iconic figures of the 20th century: Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer of all time, and Malcolm X, the Nation of Islam’s – and black America’s – most incendiary and charismatic leader.

This was the unlikeliest of friendships – the brash Olympic Champion who spoke in verse to the amusement of the white press and the ex-con intellectual-turned-revolutionary who railed against the evils of white oppression and dismissed sports as a triviality. But their bond was deep, their friendship real.

“Untold” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

The poster for Untold is okay, but the trailer makes me want to learn the rest of the stories.  Deal me in.

From the creators of WILD WILD COUNTRY, comes a five-part sports docuseries event that brings fresh eyes to some of the greatest stories in sports. From tennis to boxing to basketball, these stories aren’t the ones you’ve heard before, even if you think you have.

RIP: Frank McRae

It is just being reported today that Frank McRae died on April 29th, from a heart attack.  Mr. McRae was 77.  

Frank McRae was a gifted athlete who played college football at the University of Tennessee and upon graduation went into the NFL where he was a Defensive Tackle for the Chicago Bears.  When his playing days were over, McRae’s focus turned to acting.

Frank McRae’s career spanned 34 years with over 60 acting credits on his resume.  Mr. McRae held his on own screen with many of the greats: Charles Bronson, James Garner, Sally Field, Kurt Russell, Nick Nolte, Peter Falk and Arnold Schwarzenegger to name just a few.  Stanley Kramer, Steven Spielberg, John Milius, Robert Zemeckis and John McTiernan were some of the directors who wanted Frank McRae in their films.  Frank McRae appeared in four films starring Sylvester Stallone: FIST, Paradise Alley, Lock Up and Rocky II.  Mr. McRae’s best known role may be Sharkey, James Bond’s friend, in Licence to Kill

I was (and remain) a huge fan of Frank McRae.  He made every film he was in at least a little bit better.  My favorite Frank McRae role was when he played Big Glory in Paradise Alley.  Big Glory was a professional wrestler whose better days were long past.  It’s a funny, yet sad supporting role that Frank McRae completely owned.  Another memorable role was his brief but impactful part in Red Dawn… and Lock Up… and well, you get the idea.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Frank McRae’s family, friends and fans. 

Men of the Square Table: Who Makes Man Laws Now?

In 2007, Miller Lite ran a series of ads called Man Laws.  The idea was that a group of highly respected (and manly) men met in secret to create the Laws by which men are to live.  The ads were humorous and well done.  Here is the introduction to the concept…

And here are some of the ads…

If the Men of the Square Table were to come together today, what men would be invited?  Who would replace Burt Reynolds as the leader of the group?  Here are my suggestions…

  • Khabib Nurmagomedov:  UFC MMA Champion, retired undefeated 29 – 0
  • Kurt Angle: Gold Medal Winner: 1996 Olympics in Wrestling, Pro-Wrestler
  • Idris Elba: Actor, Kickboxer
  • Shaquille O’Neal: Basketball
  • Marvelous Marvin Hagler: Boxing  (I wrote this post up several days before Mr. Hagler died.  Out of respect to him, I elected to not change this. – Craig)
  • Danny Trejo: Actor
  • Chuck Zito: Actor, Celebrity Bodyguard, Stuntman, Former President of the New York chapter of the Hells Angels
  • Oleksii Novikov: 2020 World’s Strongest Man
  • Eugene Goodman: Capitol Police Officer
  • Sylvester Stallone: Actor and Leader of the Table

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Monthly Newsletter!

Arnold Schwarzenegger recently started a monthly newsletter.  I signed up and am glad I did.  Arnold gives a real glimpse to what is going on in his life, his passions/causes, health tips, jokes, and more.  The newsletter is positive, upbeat and inspiring.  Here are a few tidbits…

I get questions non-stop about how I stay positive during the pandemic, how I train, how I eat, and I decided I can use this newsletter to answer questions and keep all of you up to date on what I’m doing, what I’m thinking, and what vision I’m currently chasing…

I decided to switch from sweatpants to regular pants for a meeting recently and let me tell you, I spent the whole meeting feeling like I was in a straitjacket, just waiting to put my sweats back on… Now I’m committing to all of you: This month I am going to drop the weight I gained and get back to 218 again. I am going to conquer March. Who is with me?…

One thing that has always bothered me about politics is that some people refuse to even sit down and talk with people from the other party. It’s absurd. But political parties are in the business of villainizing the other side. That’s how they make money – the more they make you hate or fear the enemy, the more donations come in. I’ve had it…

If there is one political message you leave with, please don’t make people the enemy over politics, because then you can’t talk and find common ground. Even when someone is prejudiced, I try not to demonize them, because once I do that, I have lost my chance to open their mind and get them to think differently…

On a much lighter note, here is some advice for those of you always struggling with finding gifts. I celebrated Valentine’s Day by painting some handmade cards like I always do…

My Netflix spy series – which reminded me of a new version of True Lies, so I signed on immediately – is coming along and once it’s safe to shoot we’ll get going. I have also signed on to a few other scripts I’m excited to share but the one I’m really excited for is the script for the sequel to Twins, Triplets

That’s just a small taste.  If you’re interested in getting Arnold’s newsletter just click over and look for the sign-up at the bottom right of the page.

RIP: Marvelous Marvin Hagler

Marvelous Marvin Hagler, one of the greatest boxers in the history of the sport, died unexpectedly yesterday at the age of 66.  The announcement was made by his wife and no cause of death was given.  

Hagler, whose professional boxing record was 62 – 3 – 2, with 52 wins by knockout, dominated the middleweight division from the time he won the title on September 27, 1980 until his controversial split decision loss to Sugar Ray Leonard on April 6, 1987.  Along the way, Hagler beat anyone they put in front of him including all the great middleweights of the era – Alan Minter, Vito Antuofermo, Mustafa Hamsho, Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns and many others.

Hagler’s fight with Tommy Hearns lasted less than 3 rounds, but is considered by many fight fans to be not only the most exciting fight in boxing history, but it also contains the most exciting round ever.  Hagler won the fight by a TKO before the end of the third round.

Hagler lost the title in a controversial split decision to Sugar Ray Leonard.  Leonard who was warned for holding in every round, fought in spurts and did enough in two judges’ eyes to win.  Fight enthusiasts and reporters were split in their opinions as to who should have won the fight with an extremely slight majority favoring Hagler.  Although one would think that a title fight decided on such a razor-thin margin would demand an immediate rematch, it never happened.  Leonard announced his retirement, despite Hagler’s request for a rematch.  Hagler waited for the Leonard to change his mind, but when after 14 months that didn’t happen, Hagler officially retired.  A month later, Leonard announced a comeback against another fighter.  By this point, Hagler was done with boxing for good and moved to Italy where he starred in action movies.

Marvelous Marvin Hagler was named Fighter of the Decade (1980s) by Boxing Illustrated magazine.  He was the Boxing Writers Association of America Fighter of the Year for 1983 and 1985 and Ring Magazine’s Fighter of the Year for 1983 and 1985.  Marvelous Marvin Hagler was inducted into both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993.

I was a huge Marvelous Marvin Hagler fan.  Hagler was a fighter’s fighter.  I watched Hagler’s fights on television and pay-per-view.  Hagler provided so many great evenings spent with family watching him perform.  His fight against Tommy Hearns is perhaps the most exciting boxing match in the history of the sport.  I have a post scheduled for Tuesday (written a few days ago) in which I spotlight Marvelous Marvin Hagler as one of my choices to be in a group of “men’s men”, little knowing that he would pass on before the post would ever be published.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Marvelous Marvin Hagler’s family, friends and fans.  

Muhammad Ali: Kinshasa 1974 – “The Rumble in the Jungle”

Muhammad Ali: Kinshasa 1974 is a new graphic novel that combines the famous Abbas photographs with a story by writer JD Morvan and artist Rafael Ortiz that gives context to the pictures.  Abbas was in Kinshasa, Zaire to photograph the political unrest at the same time the famed Rumble in the Jungle fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman took place.  As things worked out Abbas was able to chronicle events leading up to an including the fight.

Muhammad Ali: Kinshasa 1974 is an interesting idea and looks like a well done book.  If you’d like to see more than the cover above and preview page below, click over to an interview with JD Morvan which provides more insight and preview pages.  If you’d like to order Muhammad Ali: Kinshasa 1974, it is available now.  (I will get a small percentage of each sale made using the link.)

RIP: Leon Spinks

Leon Spinks, Olympic Gold medal boxer and former Heavyweight Boxing Champ of the World, died yesterday at age 67 from prostrate cancer.

Leon Spinks won three consecutive national AAU light heavyweight boxing championships.  He was a light heavyweight bronze medalist in the 1974 World Championships, a light heavyweight silver medalist in the 1975 Pan Am games, and a light heavyweight gold medalist in the 1976 Olympics.

Spinks was best known for his upset victory of Mohammad Ali which catapulted him in the national spotlight.  Spinks got the opportunity to face Ali after just 8 professional fights.  Ali was looking at Spinks as a tune-up for a tougher rematch against Ken Norton.  Spinks was a relatively inexperienced pro who had fought most of his career as a light-heavyweight.  Surprisingly, Spinks out-boxed Ali over the course of 15 rounds and won a split-decision victory!

The boxing commission wanted Spinks to next face Ken Norton who was the number 1 contender for the title.  Spinks refused, instead opting to give Ali a rematch.  Spinks was striped of the title.  Ali came to the rematch in shape (no longer under-estimating Spinks) and easily won.  Spinks continued fighting in both the heavyweight and cruiserweight divisions,  In 1981, Spinks fought Larry Holmes for the Heavyweight Championship, losing by TKO in the 3rd.

I remember watching the first Spinks/Ali fight and being surprised at Leon’s performance.  As the fight wore on it became clear that history was being made.  I also was impressed that Spinks was willing to give up the title to give Ali a chance to avenge the loss.  He said he wanted to return the opportunity that Ali had given him.

Leon Spinks won three consecutive national AAU light heavyweight championships.  He was a light heavyweight bronze medalist in the 1974 World Championships, a light heavyweight silver medalist in the 1975 Pan Am games, and a light heavyweight gold medalist in the 1976 Olympics.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Leon Spinks’ family, friends and fans.

RIP: Mike Henry

Mike Henry, best known for his roles as Tarzan in three feature films and Sheriff Bufford T. Justice’s son in three Smokey and the Bandit movies has died.  Henry died at age 84 on January 8th, from chronic traumatic encephalopathy after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Henry was a standout linebacker at USC and went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1958 – 1961) and the Los Angeles Rams (1962 – 1964).  Henry had played a few minor roles prior to his retirement from football and in 1966 he got the lead as Tarzan in three feature films.  

After playing Tarzan, Henry alternated between guest spots on television and co-starring roles in feature films.  Mike Henry appeared in an episode of Burt Reynold’s series, Dan August and also had a role in Reynold’s feature film, The Longest Yard.  Henry also appeared twice in Charlton Heston films (Soylent Green and Skyjacked) and twice in John Wayne movies (The Green Berets and Rio Lobo).  Most fans may know Henry best as Jackie Gleason’s sidekick in three Smokey and the Bandit films where Henry played Sheriff Bufford T. Justice’s dimwit son, Junior Justice.

I first saw Henry in his Tarzan trilogy which was a new take on the King of the Jungle.  Now Tarzan was an educated, almost James Bond type character.  It was a shocking change, but one that was interesting.  Henry definitely had the physique to play Tarzan.  After the three films, Henry was offered the chance to play Tarzan in the television series that was being developed, but he declined.

In 1988, Henry was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and he retired from acting.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mike Henry’s family, friends and fans.


Check Out the Amazing Animated Short “Dernier Round” (“Last Round”)

Check out this amazing animated short, Dernier Round (Last Round) created by a talented group of student filmmakers from France.  Dernier Round felt like the set-up for a wonderful full-length movie that I’d love to see!

“In a Parisian suburb, a promising young boxer must find a way to finance the future of his little sister, a piano prodigy.”