Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers world champion boxer Roberto Duran aptly nicknamed “Hands of Stone.”
This Panamanian boxer regularly pummeled his opponents.
With 70 career knock-outs, Roberto Duran punched with such power that observers claimed he possessed Hands of Stone.
ESPN.com called Duran’s nickname the greatest nickname in a sport famous for great nicknames.
Pound for pound the 5’7” and 150 lb. Duran is widely known as one the best boxers to have ever set foot in the ring.
His amazing endurance in the ring lasted five decades. Duran’s career spanned from his 1968 professional debut in Panama to his unexpected retirement in 2001 due to a near fatal car crash.
Roberto Duran Fight Against Sugar Ray Leonard
One of Duran’s most famous fights pitted him against fellow lightweight Sugar Ray Leonard in a rematch. Duran had already defeated Sugar Ray by unanimous decision in June 1980 in a fight called the Brawl in Montreal. Oddly, in their November 1980 rematch, Duran walked out of the ring uttering, “no mas,” meaning “no more,” in Spanish. As a result, he forfeited his championship belt.
An inductee into the World Boxing and International Boxing Hall of Fames, Duran fought 119 times, winning 103 bouts. He earned a reputation as a punishing brawler inside the ropes.
However, outside the ropes Duran made headlines as well Panamanian lore. The story tells of an angry Duran once knocking out a horse with his Hands of Stone. To add to his tough image, many reported that the brash boxer once paraded his pet lion Walla around a hotel.
Few boxers in history have mirrored Duran’s varied success in the ring.
Roberto Duran Won Championship in Four Different Weight Classes
The Hands of Stone Panamanian used his punching prowess to win four world championship belts in four different weight classes. Duran captured crowns in lightweight (1972-1979), welterweight (1980), light middleweight (1983-1984) and middleweight (1989).
There may be “no mas,” or no more, of the 60 year-old Roberto Duran in the boxing ring. But, this incredible fighter is featured in an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary film titled after his nickname.
In this film, boxing fans witness more, yes much more, of the boxer famous for having Hands of Stone.
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Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers Australian sports icon Ian Thorpe.
This Olympic swimmer’s powerful speed in the pool gave rise to his brilliant nickname.
Known simply as The Thorpedo, Ian Thorpe ranks as one of the greatest swimmers of all time.
Like the self-propelled warhead for which he was named, this 6’5” and 230 lb. Australian used his massive size 17 feet and powerful six beat kick to regularly propel himself toward his final target – the victor’s podium at swimming events.
Amazingly, Thorpe overcame an allergic reaction to chlorine, a chemical common to pools. He excelled in a sport where he would continually be found in chlorinated water that would make him sick. At the age of eight, Ian Thorpe won very his first competitive race by holding his head completely above water to fight off the worst of his allergy.
Ian Thorpe Becomes Youngest World Champion Swimmer
Thorpe’s length and incredible work ethic helped him explode onto the international swim scene in 1998. That year, at age 15, The Thorpedo became the youngest men’s world champion.
The Thorpedo continued his assault in the pool. He eventually compiled one of the most impressive swimming resumes in the history of the sport. Thorpe excelled in middle-distance freestyle events and demonstrated an awesome ability to make up trailing distances as anchor on relay teams.
Voted four times as Swimming World’s Swimmer of the Year, Thorpe enjoyed the most success of any other Olympian during the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. The Thorpedo cruised his way to three gold medals and two silver medals at the games in Sydney, Australia.
The Thorpedo Captured 11 World Swimming Titles
Before retiring in 2006, this Aussie Thopedo captured an additional 11 World Swimming Championships.
USA Men’s Swim Coach Bob Bowman called Thorpe, “the greatest middle-distance swimmer of all time and the greatest relay swimmer I have ever seen.” This was an especially significant compliment since it arose from the same man who coached Michael Phelps.
This self-propelled Australian in the pool will always be remembered as an explosive finisher. Like any military weapon trained on its target, Thorpe regularly found his at the victor’s podium.
He’s one of the world’s most highly decorated swimming champions.
Ian Thorpe will be forever remembered as The Thorpedo, the amazingly fast underwater weapon that always found his target.
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Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers one of the sports world’s all-time favorite talking heads – ESPN’s Chris Berman.
Berman may have only retired a year ago, but for many of us it seems like decades since he’s no longer a regular on ESPN telecasts.
Plus, you don’t need to be a swami to predict this ESPN legend’s inclusion in my sports comic book Favorite Sportscasters.
Check out this excerpt about one of the most revered talking heads in sports.
…..Synonymous with the ESPN brand, Chris Berman started with the then fledgling network way “back…back…back” in 1979.
He appeared on camera just one month after the cable sports giant officially launched on air.
And, then, “Whoop!” His career was “gone” and quickly transported into the national spotlight.
Since then, no one ever questioned whether Berman “could…go…all…the…way” to stardom in the ESPN television studio.
Confident, witty and fun, the exuberant Berman with the booming voice – hence the nickname Boomer – became a trusted household name in sports reporting.
Sports fans were immediately addicted listening to the large (6’5”) sportscaster reporting on sports with a style unlike any other.
During the next 30 years, his format evolved into the standard that viewers watched every evening around dinner time.
Who hasn’t been smitten by the intoxicating sound of “da da dunt, da da dunt” that preceded Berman behind the desk?
Chris Berman Anchored ESPN’s Iconic Sports Center
ESPN exploited Berman’s magnetic and magnanimous television appeal. The network appointed Berman anchor of its now iconic Sports Center show. He’s also regularly hosted Monday Night Countdown, Sunday NFL Countdown, US Open Golf and Stanley Cup Final shows. Plus, he’s covered 30 Super Bowls and hosted ESPN NFL shows for 28 years.
Berman’s studio brilliance has earned him ten Sports Emmy Awards and six NSSA Sportscaster-of-the Year Awards. He’s also become a beloved broadcaster in US sports and entertainment culture.
Although he’s not an actor by trade, Berman boasts his very own entertainment star. In 2010, he received the rarefied symbol of celebrity on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The full-time television celebrity and part-time entertainment personality has eclipsed the bright ESPN cameras. He’s also appeared on stage with Huey Lewis and the News twelve times and has graced Hollywood movies eleven times.
Berman’s most popular films include Necessary Roughness in 1991, The Waterboy in 1998, The Longest Yard remake in 2011 and Grown Ups II in 2013.
All films aside, Berman’s best entertaining remains in the broadcast booth or in an ESPN studio.
Chris Berman Became Known for His Clever Nicknames
Here, the talented talking head on sports may be best known for his litany of clever nicknames. These may be Berman’s most notable monikers: Bert Be Home Blyleven, Curtis My Favorite Martin and Roberto The Alomar.
In 2010, ESPN signed Berman to an undisclosed contract extension. In exchange, Berman pledged his loyalty to the network by indicating he could never work with another media company.
In typical Berman catch-phrase fashion, the iconic anchor quipped about wanting to be a like Tony Gwynn, George Brett, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Walter Payton.
For this broadcast legend, retiring with the team he originally came in with would be the greatest honor.
With that said, what rumblin’, dumblin’, stumblin’ sports fan would ever doubt him?
Today’s #TBT sports blog features one of my favorite MLB players ever – former St. Louis Cardinals’ shortstop Ozzie Smith or The Wizard of Oz.
If Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow were baseball fans, they’d be off to find Major League Baseball’s wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Ozzie Smith played not to far from the Gateway Arch in the old Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, MO.
Ozzie Smith’s incredibly quick reflexes, unparalleled aptitude with his glove and accurate arm contributed to his magical, wizard like play at shortstop. Smith’s skills made him a most worthy recipient of his clever Wizard of Oz nickname.
The Wizard of Oz is Also Featured in Favorite Sports Nicknames on Amazon
The Wizard of Oz is also included in the #19 spot in my sports comic book titled Favorite Sports Nicknames available for only 99 cents on Amazon.
Osbourne Earl “Ozzie” Smith retired in 1996 as arguably the greatest shortstop in Major League Baseball history. A 1982 World Series champ with the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozzie Smith ended his stellar 19 year career as the all-time leader in career assists (8,375) and double plays by a shortstop (1,590). The “Wizard of Oz” also set a National League record of 2,511 consecutive starts at his position.
The 5’10” and 175 lb. magician with a glove captured the National League Gold Glove Award an unprecedented 13 years in a row. He was named National League all-star shortstop an incredible 15 times.
Baseball’s Hall of Fame Inductee: Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz’s defensive brilliance, coupled with an impressive 2,460 career hits and a lifetime .262 batting average, enabled him to whisk down baseball’s proverbial “yellow brick road” directly into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2002.
The St. Louis Cardinals retired Ozzie Smith’s #1 jersey in 1996. The Sporting News recognized his amazing defensive play and 2,000+ career hits by naming him #87 on its list of the top 100 greatest baseball players ever.
Baseball fans everywhere, even Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow would do back flips of excitement, just like the Cardinals’ Ozzie Smith, while watching this dazzling Wizard of Oz perform on the baseball field in St. Louis.
Remembering the Wizard of Oz in today’s #TBT sports blog is as easy as Ozzie Smith handling a ground ball from his shortstop position in a Cardinals’ uniform.
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Today’s #TBT sport blogs remembers Ernie Banks, the greatest player in Chicago Cubs history.
To Banks, the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field served as home for 19 Major League Baseball seasons.
Affectionately known as Mr. Cub, the soft spoken Ernie Banks easily stole the hearts of loyal Chicago Cubs fans.
Defined by his passion and purpose for the game, Banks excelled in a multitude of ways for the only Major League Baseball team he ever knew.
However, during his lengthy and storied baseball career in Chicago, the beloved #14 amazingly never saw post season action. Never!
Ernie Banks Enjoyed Only 1 Winning Season in 19 Years
Ironically, Banks experienced 18 out of 19 losing seasons with the Chicago Cubs. As a result, he became known as the consummate good sport. He never complained openly about the Cubs’ losing ways.
Because of his bright smile, gentle spirit and always positive disposition, Banks also picked up the appropriate nickname Mr. Sunshine.
In spite of the Cubs’ futility, Banks gained a 1977 first ballot entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He posted impressive career statistics as both a shortstop and then first baseman for the Chicago Cubs.
A two-time National League MVP in 1958 and 1959, Banks retired with 512 dingers, 2,583 total hits and a lifetime .274 batting average.
Although Banks was named to baseball’s All-Century team in 1999, he often expressed during his playing days that he wanted to be remembered as more than a baseball player.
Fortunately, he has.
Since his retirement in 1972, Banks has been revered for the way he comported himself both on and off the baseball field.
In addition to his stellar play as an athlete, Banks brilliantly followed Jackie Robinson’s lead as an esteemed example of baseball integration.
The Baseball Hall of Fame player also was greatly respected for advocating for assistance for Chicago’s poor.
In 2013 President Barack Obama Presented Ernie Banks with Presidential Medal of Freedom
What is perhaps this Chicago sports legend’s greatest lifetime achievement came to fruition in 2013. That’s when President Barack Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The award not only acknowledged Banks’ outstanding baseball career, but, it recognized #14 as an extraordinary human being. Despite a quiet demeanor, Ernie fought racism in our country with an excellent and courageous spirit.
His example to overcome adversity through quiet strength and determination helped unite people of all races.
For that reason, Mr. Cub will always be remembered as more than the Chicago Cubs’ greatest player ever. It pleases me to pen this #TBT sports blog.
Ernie Banks will be forever recognized as both a hero and a great man who proudly represented baseball as the sport’s unofficial ambassador.
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Today’s #TBT sports blog features Shoeless Joe Jackson – one of the most enigmatic as well as talented Major League Baseball players ever.
Baseball fans have always been intrigued by the genesis of Jackson’s legendary Shoeless nickname. That’s because Jackson actually removed his new cleats because of a blister, then batted in his socks and ran the bases shoeless.
Yes, the lore was true. Witnesses indicated that way back in 1906, a heckling fan at an amateur baseball game in Anderson, SC coined the name Shoeless as Joe Jackson ran to third base wearing no cleats.
Joe Jackson Famous For More Than His Shoeless Nickname
Joe Jackson’s Shoeless nickname is not the only thing for which this 12-year major league star is immediately and infamously remembered.
Believed to be illiterate, Jackson could certainly read pitches. He currently retains the third highest batting average in Major League Baseball history. Purportedly, Babe Ruth emulated Jackson’s hitting stance after Shoeless Joe hit .408 as a rookie in 1911, a record that still stands today.
At #12 in my sports comic book Favorite Sports Nicknames, Shoeless Joe Jackson is not immediately recognized for his hitting prowess. Unfortunately, Jackson’s baseball legacy has been forever sullied.
Shoeless Joe Jackson was implicated, but never indicted, in the legendary 1919 World Series scandal memorialized in the movie Eight Men Out. His name is also referenced in movies like The Natural starring Robert Redford, and Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner.
..…Music lovers believe that Great Britain’s Pete Best, the drummer who preceded Ringo Starr for the British band The Beatles, holds the revered rock n’ roll title as the Fifth Beatle.
However, soccer fans, especially those of British descent, strongly disagree. They recognize Northern Ireland’s George Best as the Fifth Beatle. For his iconic celebrity, he’s idolized as one of the most gifted and entertaining soccer players ever.
This 5’9″ Northern Irishman plied his trade for eleven years with Manchester United in the vaunted English Premier League. During that time, he scored an astounding 179 goals in 470 appearances.
Best’s speed, acceleration, brilliant footwork and hard charging style quickly made him a fan favorite and an elite EPL performer. His ability to regularly put the ball in the back of the net earned him the European Footballer of the Year Award in 1968.
Best’s emergence as a beloved English athlete took place in the British music era of the Beatles. They were exploding as the rock ‘n roll band that would eventually sell one billion records and become a world wide entertainment sensation.
FIFA Great George Best Partied Like Rock Star
Though he excelled as one of FIFA’s most dynamic stars while on the pitch, George Best also partied like a rock star when away from it.
Unfortunately, Best’s undisciplined and extravagant lifestyle contributed to his demise as a player and also as an individual.
One of the many colorful quotes attributed to this Fifth Beatle reads, “I spent 90% of my money on women, drink and fast cars. The rest I wasted.” The words were funny, but sadly, true.
George Best died an alcoholic in 2005 due to complications from a liver transplant.
On a mural in his native Belfast, Northern Ireland, these words are written to memorialize George Best. They illuminate what any soccer fan, plus all of the musical Beatles, would agree with concerning this Fifth Beatle, “Maradona good. Pele better. George Best.”
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