Category: Sports

Alexis Arguello & Karl Malden – R.I.P.

Alexis Arguello and Karl Malden passed on today.

Alexis Arguello, who was a champion in three weight divisions, died at the age of 57 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  Arguello, was a charismatic champion who compiled an amazing 82 – 8 record before finally retiring in 1995.  Although Arguello never lost a fight 130 pounds he is best known for his first brutal and controversial war against Aaron Pryor in 1982.   Arguello moved up in weight with the hope of being the first champion in four weight divisions.  Pryor won the fight by knocking out Arguello in the 14th round of the epic fight which had seen both fighters taking and giving as good as they were getting.  Arguello seemed to be gaining the advantage, but in the respite before the 14th round, Pryor’s trainer, Panama Lewis, called for a specific water bottle — “the one I mixed” — the mysterious drink seemed to revive Pryor who went on to win.  The fight against Pryor was voted Fight of the Year and Fight of the Decade by Ring magazine.  Arguello fought for 13 more years and remained a popular figure after leaving the squared circle.  He appeared in commercials, carried his country’s flag in the Olympics and was currently the mayor of Managua, the capital of

Karl Malden, 97, died today from natural causes.  An Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor in 1951 for his role in “A Streetcar Named Desire” which starred Marlon Brando.   Malden also appeared with Brando in “On the Waterfront” and “One-Eyed Jacks” as well as several dozen movies without him.  Malden had a five year run with Michael Douglas in the popular “Streets of San Francisco” tv series which ran from 1972 – 1977.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends and fans of Alexis Arguello and Karl Malden.

Things Could Always Be Worse

Last night the a bunch of the family met up in DeLand to see my nephew pitch for East Tennessee State University against Stetson.  Although hanging with the family was fun, the game didn’t go our way.  Josh started as pitcher and went five innings.  The score was 4-2 when he was relieved [and two of the runs came after errors].  Things went pretty much downhill after that.  ETSU went through four more pitchers as Stetson hammered in a total of 19 runs.  Final score Stetson 19, ETSU 4.  Arrgh.

After the game, when we went out into the parking lot we discovered that one of the foul balls hit out of the stadium had busted out Josh’s mom’s car’s back window.  Sheesh!  You can see that Joey was shocked at the look of his Aunt’s car!

Still, the night did have it’s moments.  It was fun hanging with family members.  And Grandma Peggy came up with a few new ones:  “They’ve got more runs than a pair of my old hose”“That kid is swingin’ like it’s the 60’s!”

Baseball Cheers

My nephew, Josh Gonzaga, plays college baseball for the East Tennessee Buccaners.  Today they had a doubleheader against North Florida in Jacksonville.  Since Josh was starting pitcher in the second game, the family decided to drive up.  When I say family, I mean family.  In attendance were Josh’s mom, dad and brother Justin, my nephew Joey and his wife, my wife, my son Mike and his girlfriend Erin, and Grandma Peggy.

Now the one thing you have to know about Grandma Peggy is that she has little interest in sports and knows even less about them.  You could tell her that the pitcher just threw for three touchdowns and she’d not question it.  You could say that the batter just earned a TKO and she’d believe you.  Grandma Peggy was just there because Josh was playing and she loves being with her family.

As the game got underway there were the normal cheers.  “Go Bucs!”  “Give him your best pitch!”  “Great pitch, Josh!”  “Battle back, kid!”  “Come on blue, get in the game!”  There were also a few new [at least to me] cheers: “Hey Blue, I thought only cows slept standing up!”  “Hey Blue, don’t be chicken to call a foul (fowl)!” As the game tightened up and got down to the middle innings it seemed that everyone in the family was cheering something.  And that’s when Grandma Peggy yelled:

“That batter swings like a pole dancer!”

Everyone in the family suddenly got quiet and all eyes went to Grandma Peggy who was proudly smiling.  “Uh, mom, what does that mean?” I asked.  “I don’t know, I just thought it sounded right” came her response.  We all busted out laughing.  For the rest of the game, every so often, you’d hear someone yell, “That batter swings like a pole dancer!”

So if you’re ever at a baseball game and you hear that cheer… remember you read it here first at the ZONE!  [Take THAT, Joey!]

Kevin Nash Makes An Appearance

I work as an Assistant Principal at a local high school.  A while back I posted about talking to former World  Lightheavy Weight Champ, Antonio Tarver at one of our basketball games.  Tonight I was working the game as our girls basketball team played for the district titleKevin Nash [movie actor and professional wrestler] came to watch.  Nash is friends of the family of one of the players.

What was cool was that many people recognized him, but no one went over for autographs or to talk to him.  Kevin Nash wasn’t there for that and people seemed to realize it.  A group of students did walk by to get a closer look, but even they didn’t bug him.  Too bad that most celebrities aren’t given the same respect when they are trying to enjoy some time away from the limelight.

Unfortunately our girls lost.  The good news is that coming in 2nd place in the district moves us into the regional tournament with a chance to still go to state.  If we make it, maybe Kevin Nash will make a return visit.

UFC 92 Results

Last night’s UFC 92 had a few surprises.

Quentin “Rampage” Jackson (28-7) vs Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva (32-8). Because Rampage had met Silva twice before and lost both times, I thought that the third time would likely end with another win for Silva.  Boy, was I wrong, Rampage won via a devastating KO in the first round. Rampage is back and although you might think that he’d want a shot at getting his title again, he’s said that he’d rather get the chance to avenge his loss to Forrest Griffin. Now that’s a fighter talking!

Antonio “Big Nog” Nogueira (31-4-1) vs Frank Mir (11-3). Mir had less experience and did not sound confident in pre-fight interviews. That, coupled with the fact that Big Nog gets stronger as a fight goes on [and Mir isn’t known for his conditioning] led me to belive that Big Nog would probably come out the winner. Boy, was I wrong again. Not only did Mir dominate the first round, he continued to dominate in the second and knocked Big Nog out before the 2 minute mark. Mir KO’d a man who had never been knocked out before and he made it look fairly easy.

Forrest Griffin (16-4) vs “Sugar” Rashad Evans (16-0-1). I picked Griffin to win, but was worried that Evans would once again find a way earn the victory.   He did.   Griffin had a great fight plan which kept the fight off the mat, and Evans at bay with solid leg kicks.  Griffin won both rounds one and two and appeared to be on his way to winning the third as well. That’s when Evans was able to catch Griffin’s leg and land a hard shot which put Griffin down.   Evans followed up with repeated head strikes until the ref was forced to call it.

So congratulations to Rampage, Mir and Evans.

UFC 92 Preview

Tomorrow night’s card for UFC 92 is stacked. Three fights headline the card and they should all prove to be interesting, competitive fights.

Quentin “Rampage” Jackson (28-7) takes on Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva (32-8). Jackson is the former light heavyweight champ, with the emphasis is on former. It’s still fresh in most folks’ minds about Jackson’s erratic behavior following the loss of his title. Many are saying that the shake-ups that followed Jackson’s run-ins with the law led to good things. He started training seriously, he got rid of those around him who were not the best influences and will come into this fight a changed man. He will need to be. Rampage has met Silva twice before and lost both times. I like Rampage, but plan to give the nod to Silva.

Antonio “Big Nog” Nogueira (31-4-1) matches up against Frank Mir (11-3). Again, I like both fighters. Mir has less experience. Plus, if you’ve heard him speaking about Big Nog in interviews, you know that Mir is concerned with the fact that Big Nog gets stronger as the fight goes on… and Mir isn’t known for his conditioning. I think that Big Nog has the advantage going in and unless Mir makes something happen fast, it could be a long night in the octogon with Nogueira coming out a winner.

Forrest Griffin (16-4) puts his title on the line when he squares off against “Sugar” Rashad Evans (16-0-1). Both of these guys are former winners of The Ultimate Fighter show tourneys. Although Griffin is a slight favorite, mainly due to his popularity, Evans is the more technical fighter due to his extensive college wrestling career. I’m leaning towards Griffin finding a way to win, but am concerned that Evans has ALWAYS been able to do just that.

The Greatest?

One of the greatest fights of all-time was the third match between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. Dubbed the “Thrilla in Manila” it was the rubber match between two of the best fighters to ever step into the ring. Ali won the battle, but at a great cost. The fight took such a toil on them that both Frazier and Ali never wanted to watch it again.

Now, thirty plus years later, film maker John Dower uses that epic battle as the framework for his documentary “Thriller in Manila.” Not only does Dower take a close look at the fight, he takes the controversial stance that Ali’s dark side has been glossed over by time and that Joe Frazier was slighted due to the charisma of Ali. Dower uses new interviews with Frazier [who watches the Manila fight for the first time] interspliced with old newsreel footage and interviews to paint a picture of Ali that isn’t pretty.

You can read more about the documentary here.

Do You Believe in Magic?

Tonight, my son, Chris and I are heading over to Orlando to watch the Magic play a pre-season game against CSKA Moscow. Chris is a huge sports fan and the Magic are his favorite B-Ball team, so when I was able to score free tickets, it was a given that we’d go. It’s always a blast to see a game live… even if it is pre-season.


Thoughts on the Superbowl

The Patriots play the Giants today see who will be the Superbowl Champion. I really have no dog in this race.

On one hand I’d like to see the Giants win because they’re the underdogs and I like to pull for the ‘dog. On the other hand, the Pats have had an amazing run. If they win it today will finally quiet the Dolphins fans who keep yappin’ about their perfect season 36 years ago.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the Dolphins and I loved the 72 Dolphins that set the mark. But what many Dolphin fanatics don’t want to recognize is that the ‘fins went 14-0 during their regular season, while the Pats went 16-0. Oh, I can hear the ‘Finatics saying, “Well, don’t blame us because the season was shorter. We’d have beaten anyone that year.” Maybe, maybe not.

We really don’t know. What we DO know is that year Miami only beat two teams with winning records during their regular season run [Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets], and both of those teams were just 8-6. This year the Patriots have beaten two teams that were 13-3 [Dallas and Indianapolis], one that was 11-5 San Diego, three that were 10-6 [Cleveland, the Giants and Pittsburgh] and one, Washington, that was 9-7. Talk about strength of schedule! Also remember that while facing these tough teams New England set a new NFL record for scoring 589 points!

So who do I want to win? I guess it’s safe to say, let the best team win. If it’s the Patriots, it will be a great capper to a great season. If it’s the Giants, then more power to ’em.

Most likely the Dolpfanatics will keep yappin’ anyway it works out.

Muhammad Ali: Still the Greatest

Today is Muhammad Ali’s 65th birthday. It’s hard to believe that the champ is 65. It’s harder still to believe that Parkinson’s disease has been able to rob Ali of much of his health for many of these years.

I was five years old when Ali beat Liston for the title. Here was this brash young kid bragging that he’d beat this monster of a man. Then he did it. And then he did it again in a rematch. Ali was “the man.” He talked a lot of smack, but he backed it up. Plus it was obvious that he was having fun, so much of what he said seemed to be playful kidding around [until you stepped into the ring with him]. Ali was as cool as The Beatles or Elvis. In fact, Ali was the greatest.


I can remember the controversy that sprung up when Muhammad refused to enter the draft. Although I was against the war in Viet Nam, I felt that it was wrong to not support your country. Still, I admired Ali for standing by his convictions no matter the cost. And cost him it did. He was stripped of the title and not allowed to fight during three of what could have been his most productive years.


When Ali was once again allowed to fight, I can remember staying up late to watch it with my dad. Ali was fighting a tough guy named Jerry Quarry. Ali won by TKO in the 3rd. I had just turned 12 and Ali was still the greatest.


Less than a year later Ali fought Joe Frazier in what was to be the first of three legendary fights. Although Muhammad lost the fight, the battle become the thing of legends. Ali continued to fight and win.


Two years later, Ali fought and lost a split decision to Ken Norton. I was surprised about the loss, but even more so when I learned that Ali fought most [if not all] of the fight with a broken jaw. Six months later Ali beat Norton in the rematch. I was 14 and Ali was still the greatest.


Ali fought again the following month for an easy win. and then two months after that beat Joe Frazier in their first rematch. Their battle was another classic that went the entire 15 rounds, but this time Ali came out on top. Nine months later Ali entered the ring to fight Big George Foreman. Foreman was undefeated and had knocked out Frasier early. Heck, Foreman knocked almost everyone out early. Ali wasn’t given much of a chance. Of course we all know that Ali KO’d George in the 15th. I stayed up late listening to the results over the radio. I had just turned 16 and Ali was still the greatest.


In March of 75, Ali fought Chuck Wepner. No one gave Wepner ANY chance of winning. Still “The Bayonne Bleeder” went the distance in a losing effort and actually knocked Ali off of his feet at one point in the fight [although many say that it was more of a trip]. This fight, of course, is what inspired Sylvester Stallone to come up with “Rocky.” Ali followed with wins against Ron Lyle [talk about a huge, tough, ex-con] and Joe Bugner. In October of 75, Ali and Frazier met for the 3rd and final time. Ali won. I was 16 and Ali was still the greatest.


Ali fought regularly defending his title, winning against name fighters like Jimmy Young, Ken Norton [again] and Ernie Shavers. The Shavers fight was especially exciting. It was September 29, 1977. I was 18 years old and watched the fight while in Orlando for one of my first comic book conventions. After the fight, I got together with a bunch of my friends and played some poker. Of course we talked about how Ali was still the greatest!


Ali’s next fight was against a kid who had done well in the 76 Olympics. His name was Leon Spinks. The fight was televised on regular tv and I can remember watching it and seeing that the kid was winning. Spinks won with an upset decision. Ali later said that the loss to Spinks hurt more than any other of his career. Seven months later, at the age of 36, Ali beat Leon Spinks. I was 19 years old and Ali was still the greatest.


Muhammad didn’t fight again for over two years. Larry Holmes, one of Ali’s former sparring partners was champ, and Ali came back for “one last chance” to see him “dance.” I was at the pay-per-view the night that Holmes beat Ali. It wasn’t pretty. Still Muhammad gave it his all. As he did again when he came back 14 months later to fight a losing battle against Trevor Berbick. I was 23 years old and although Muhammad had lost, I felt he was still the greatest.


As the years have passed, Muhammad Ali’s legend has grown. He earned the nickname, “The People’s Champ” thanks to his popularity with folks of all races, soci-economic backgrounds and religions. Ali’s fans weren’t limited by borders. During his career he fought in 12 different countries; and was considered a true citizen of the world. Ali is probably more popular now than he was when he was in his fighting prime.


Today Muhammad Ali is 65 and he’s still the greatest.

“Cinderella Man” – Bad Title, Good Movie

Cinderella Man [hate that title] came in under the radar.

I should have seen it coming. It stars Russell Crowe and Rene Zellweger… is directed by Ron Howard… and is the story of how Jim Braddock shook the boxing world back in the ’30’s.

Still somehow, it slipped by me until I saw the trailer.

I’ll bet it doesn’t get missed come Awards time.