“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” —M.A.
We’ve already declared it boots season here on Kempt.
And here’s a late-breaking addition: these boxer boots from Tod’s capsule collection No_Code (inspired by legendary editor Jefferson Hack). They’ve taken the classic shape of boxing boots but cut them in the same buttery-soft leather their driving shoes have become famous for—resulting in the most comfortable-looking boots we’ve seen this side of a sneaker hybrid. Plus the zipper down the back means you won’t even have to spend time lacing them—or fiddling with a shoehorn.
Lawrence Berra was nicknamed “Yogi” by Bobby Hofman, who thought Berra resembled a Hindu yogi—solemnly seated with arms and legs crossed—after losing a game.
When Kansas City Athletics owner Charlie Finley saw Jim Hunter pitch for the first time in 1965, he knew he’d signed a legend. The only problem, according to Finley, was the name—“Jim Hunter” didn’t sell tickets. The next morning, Finley called Hunter into his office and informed him that his name was now “Catfish.” Jim was understandably confused, and while the conversation was not recorded, we’re almost positive his response was, “Um… why’s that?”
That’s because baseball players, like all professional athletes, are first and foremost entertainers—and entertainers aren’t named “Jim.” Unfortunately, guys like Charlie Finley are a bit of a dying breed. The perfect nickname used to be steeped in lore, metaphorically connected to athletic prowess, an inside-out joke that made children of all ages—particularly the nickname-ee—grin. Now, it seems, the “-Rod” generation simply resorts to hyphenated pig latin of sorts.
As Hunter left the office, he asked his new owner what he should say if and when people asked about the origin of his new nickname. Finley replied, “You came back from the river on your 10th birthday having caught six catfish and handed them to your old man. Sell it. Goodbye.” On that note, we now present the very best nicknames in sports…
Raise a glass, men. One of the most iconic gentlemen of our time passed away last night, the boxing writer Bert Sugar. He was the platonic ideal of a sportswriter—rarely seen without an unflipped fedora, a cigar and some of the loudest ties ever seen in a newspaper. He was larger than life from the beginning, looking and dressing as if he’d just walked out of His Girl Friday. And given that he covered both Sugar Rays and all three Ali-Frazier bouts, the nostalgia was well earned. He’ll be missed.
We don’t usually choose our ties based on boxing matches…but there’s a first time for everything.
WBO Welterweight World Champion Manny Pacquaio is coming up for his third bout against Juan Manuel Marquez this Saturday, and in certain circles, it’s a very big deal. Enough of a big deal that Italophile tie-maker Vittorio J is commemorating the occasion with a limited-edition necktie. The pattern’s modeled after the flag of the Phillipines, where Pacquaio was born, but it’s safe to say the only people who’ll get the reference will already be fans.
That makes it one of the more dignified ways to show your allegiance to a fighter—at least compared to screaming from the front row. Let’s just hope the trend slows down before Ochocinco gets involved.
Life is hard for the underdog.
Imagine, for example, a world-class boxer who spends his whole career—his whole life, even—in the shadow of one of the most flamboyantly gifted individuals in the history of organized sport.
But now that the dust has settled on the taunts and the hype and the politics, we’re ready to join the chorus saying it: Joe Frazier was a fascinating guy.
It’s Monday morning, and once again you’ve spent an entire weekend worrying about Rick Ross, the gentleman hacker who liberated Scarlett Johansson’s nude photos and the apocalypse. Luckily, we’ve got a few updates for you.
Unless you’ve got an unusually thorough sports calendar, you may have missed one of the most important boxing anniversaries on the books. 35 years ago today, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman converged on Zaire for the Rumble in the Jungle—cementing Ali’s legend and unleashing Don King on a more or less unsuspecting public.
In honor of the occasion, New York’s No Mas is taking a break from their usual diet of vintage-styled tees to produce a trio of animated shorts about the Rumble, including a spirited faceoff between Ali and a jumpsuited James Brown. Using live radio transcripts, audio collage and oil paints, it might be as close to the feeling of the real thing as we can get…at least on the internet.
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