Category: Sports

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.”


“UFC1: Origins” – The Trailer is Here!

Below is the trailer to UFC1: Origins.  I am a huge fan of UFC and mixed martial arts.  Truth be told, when the UFC first began, I wouldn’t tune in.  There were no weight classes and few if any rules.  I loved the idea of the top talent of each style (boxing, karate, wresting, jujitsu, etc.) facing each other in contest but to me it wasn’t a true sport yet…

Once there were rules and weight classes in place I was on board.  I watch UFC and Bellator regularly.  The interesting thing that has happened over the last 20 years or so is that the best fighters no longer have just one style.  They have grown up to be true mixed-martial artists!

From the producers of THE LAST DANCE. Tracing the roots of the pro-MMA league back to its tumultuous first event in 1993, UFC1: ORIGINS explores the improbable tale of how Rorion Gracie, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist, and Art Davie, once a used car salesman, teamed with Bob Meyrowitz’s pay-per-view company SEG to mount UFC 1 in Denver and launch a sports phenomenon.

RIP: Jacqueline Stallone

Jacqueline Stallone passed away this morning at the age of 98.  Best known as the mother of Sylvester and Frank Stallone, she was much more than just the parent of famous brothers.

Here is part of what Frank posted on his Instagram

This morning my brothers and I lost our mother Jackie Stallone . She was the mother to four children, Tommy, Sylvester, Frankie and my late sister Toni Ann. She was a remarkable woman working out everyday full of spunk and fearless . She died in her sleep as she had wished. It was hard not to like her, she was very eccentric and flamboyant person.

Jackie, as she was known, was indeed a remarkable woman.  She was always into fitness and training.  As a young woman she performed as a trapeze artist!  She was also a nightclub dancer.  Jackie Stallone was the first woman to have a daily exercise and fitness show in Washington, D.C. Later in her career she owned Barbella’s, a gym for women.

Jackie became a popular guest on talk shows where she discussed not only her famous sons but also her astrology books and psychic hotline.  She also became involved with GLOW – the Gorgeous Women of Wrestling!

Jackie Stallone was a powerhouse.  Frank was right in describing her as eccentric, flamboyant, fearless and hard not to like. 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jacqueline Stallone’s family, friends and fans.

Quentin Tarantino’s Top 5 Boxing Movies

Boxing Clever at the Boxing Scene recently posted Quentin Tarantino Breaks Down His Top 5 Boxing Movies.  The first one mentioned was Rocky and here is what Tarantino had to say…

“If we talk about boxing and cinema, the first thing that comes to mind is Rocky. By far the most successful boxing film in history. The story of the Italian-American boxer Rocky Balboa was written by and starred Sylvester Stallone, in the role that catapulted him to stardom.

“The history of cinema mixes the necessary ingredients to be liked by most of the public. The humble man who attains fame by pure heart, a love story behind the rise of relevance in a super emotional finale. And some action in a fight worthy of the great boxing evenings in boxing history.

“The film won 3 Oscars and was a huge box office success, as well as being the kickoff for its sequels.”

Tarantino rounded out his top five with Million Dollar Baby, The Fighter, Cinderella Man and Raging BullClick over and check out Tarantino’s thoughts on each film.  (If it was my list I would have found a spot for The Set-up! – Craig)

RIP – Franco Columbu

Franco Columbu died yesterday of an unspecified illness.  He was 78.

Columbu was a boxer, weightlifter, bodybuilding champion, actor and chiropractor.  Franco met Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1960s and they became lifelong friends, with Columbu serving as Arnold’s best man when he married Maria Shriver in 1986.  Columbu is a two-time Mr. Olympia Bodybuilding Champion.  He also appeared in Stay Hungry, Pumping Iron, The Terminator, Conan the Barbarian, The Running Man, Big Top Pee-wee, as well as other movies and television shows.  In addition, Franco trained many celebrities (including helping Sly Stallone get in shape for Rambo and other films).

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Franco Columbu’s family, friends and fans.

You Don’t Mess with William Afflis!

The gentleman above is William Afflis, but if you grew up anywhere in the midwest from the 1960’s or later, you knew him as Dick the Bruiser.  As you probably guessed (if you didn’t know) Mr. Afflis was a professional wrestler.  Beyond that Afflis was a legitimate tough guy and smart business man.

Brandon Davenport has written an informative profile of The Bruiser that details his early life, his amateur and pro football career, his brawls with coaches, police and the riot he and Alex Karras caused when they got into a bar fight with each other, as well as his Hall of Fame wrestling career from newcomer to owner of the World Wrestling Association.  Even if you’re not a fan of pro wrestling, I think you’ll get a kick out of You Don’t Mess with William Afflis.

Justin Bieber vs Tom Cruise + Conor McGregor vs Mark Wahlberg – Craig’s Thoughts

So Justin Bieber issued a challenge to fight Tom Cruise in a cage match.

Any way you look at this…

If Bieber did it for free publicity…

If Bieber thinks Tom Cruise is a real fighter because of his movies…

If Bieber believes he is a tough guy and wants to prove it by fighting Tom Cruise, an actor who is more than twice as old as Bieber…

…it is just plain stupid.

If Bieber wants to prove he’s a tough guy, then he should challenge someone known for fighting like say, Nate Diaz.  Nate would probably show up at any location for free if Bieber called him out.

How could this get any dumber?

Oh, boy.  I shouldn’t have asked.

So Conor McGregor, the former UFC Champion and now also a sports and entertainment promoter has offered to promote/host the Bieber vs Cruise fight should it ever happen.  If it wasn’t for the fact that McGregor is already known for saying outrageous things and looking for free publicity where he can get it, I’d say he should know better than to get involved in something so stupid.

Well, at least McGregor didn’t go full on stupid and challenge an actor to a cage fight.

Are you kidding me?

So McGregor has upped the ante and challenged actor Mark Walhberg to a cage fight?  For my thoughts on this please refer back above to “Any way you look at this…” and substitute McGregor’s name for Bieber and Wahlberg’s name for Cruise.

I also offer the same suggestion as to an alternate fight — McGregor should challenge Nate Diaz to a cage match.  They’ve already fought twice with each man winning once, so a third time would make sense.

Hey!  I’ve got an idea: How about Bieber and McGregor fight each other?  McGregor could promote it and each of them would get what they want.  Bieber would get a chance to prove he’s a tough guy.  McGregor would get to fight a celebrity.

The reality is of course that Bieber would get knocked out.  McGregor would be ridiculed for taking the fight and hardly anyone would tune in.

You know I started by saying that Bieber challenging Cruise was stupid.  I still think it is, but I will say this, Bieber is sure getting the publicity.   The news of his challenge is blowing up everywhere.  Heck, in all my years of blogging, I’ve never mentioned Bieber even once.  Yet today I’ve devoted a long post to him.

Well played, Justin Bieber.  Well played.

The 50 Best Sports Movies of All Time

Tim Grierson & Will Leitch and present The 50 Best Sports Movies of All Time.  I’m happy to report that Creed came in at #28 and Rocky at #3.

The list is a good one, but I’d have included The Set-up, Requiem for a Heavyweight and a couple more from the Rocky series and Paradise Alley. (Would you expect any less?)

Here’s what Grierson and Leitch said about Rocky and Creed:

28. Creed (2015)
The Rocky series had run out of gas several times by the time Ryan Coogler got together with his Fruitvale Station star Michael B. Jordan to inject the whole franchise with adrenaline and soul … and even liven up old Rock himself in the process. The best scenes of Creed aren’t even about boxing at all, as we see young Adonis Creed struggle with his identity, his purpose in life, and the power of his feelings for a young, hearing-impaired musician (played wonderfully by Tessa Thompson). Putting Rocky Balboa in the Paulie role is a brilliant idea, and the relationship between the young boxer and his trainer works … and even manages to transcend the whole 40-year-old enterprise.

3. Rocky (1976)
Roger Ebert famously wrote, in his initial review of Rocky, that Sylvester Stallone reminded him of a young Brando, and while that classification hasn’t, uh, aged so well, you can understand what he was thinking. Before all the sequels, before the montage sequences, before Stallone became a muscled, chiseled ode to misguided masculinity, he was just a guy who wanted to tell a story about a past-his-prime palooka who met a girl and then suddenly finally got his chance at the big time. This is a big hokey underdog story, but it’s told with a grit and realism that matches the era; Rocky’s just a good-hearted schmo from the neighborhood who doesn’t have the stomach to break thumbs for the mob but isn’t sure what else the world has for him either. But he’s got heart, kid. This series is more than 40 years old now, but, as Creed showed, this story remains eternal. It’s probably going to outlive us all. Even Stallone.

RIP – Bart Starr

Bart Starr, the Hall of Fame quarterback has died at the age of 85.  Mr. Starr had been in failing health since 2014 when he suffered a heart attack and two strokes. 

Starr was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 1977 after playing for 16 years as a Green Bay Packer, leading them to five NFL Championships and victories in the first two Super Bowls.  Personal awards include being picked four times for Pro-Bowl, two times as an All Pro, being selected as the 1966 NFL Most Valuable Player, the Most Valuable Player for the first two Super Bowls and selected to the All Decade Team for the 1960s.  The NFL also named an award after him.  The Bart Starr Award is given out annually to a player of outstanding character.  The Green Bay Packers retired Starr’s jersey in 1973 (as just the third player to ever receive that honor).  What a legacy!

I have always been a Chicago Bears fan, but also a Bart Starr fan.  I can remember watching Starr dive into the end zone for the winning touchdown with just seconds remaining in the NFL Championship game in 1967!  When we played football, all of the kids wanted to be Bart Starr when quarterbacking (myself included — even if he wasn’t a Bear).  And could there have been a cooler name for a NFL quarterback than Bart Starr?

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Starr’s family, friends and fans.

“The Dark Side of the Ring” / Z-View

On April 1st, I posted The Dark Side of the Ring is a 6 episode series airing on Viceland with the series summary and trailer below…

From backstage controversies to mysterious deaths and unsolved homicides, this series explores the darkest stories from the golden age of professional wrestling, and tries to find truth at the intersection of fantasy and reality. From backstage controversies to mysterious deaths and unsolved homicides, this series explores the darkest stories from the golden age of professional wrestling, and tries to find truth at the intersection of fantasy and reality.

I’ve had a chance to watch the first two episodes and was impressed.  The series interviews the wrestlers, referees and behind-the-scenes folks that were actually involved in the events that each episode covers.  If you have any interest in the business of old school professional wrestling, then The Dark Side of the Ring is worth checking out.