In olden days of yesteryear a man of Holyfield’s level of delusions would have had to be a victim of Syphillis. In the 1960s and 70s, we’d say he was trippin’. Well, FlyMaster is asking for some Syphillis and whatever else it takes to get himself to the level of Holyfield delusions. He has the single-minded focus of Miyamoto Musashi and the stubborness of a three-legged blind bull that has one testicle yet still tries to impregnate the herd. That’s what it’s all about. 11 kids out of wedlock? Who gives a damn? House in foreclosure? Houses are overrated. Just show Holyfield the ring and let him do the crazy stuff most of us can’t even fathom.
FlyMaster Signing Off…For Now!
December 11, 1981 isn’t a date that resonates in the great annals of history, but it should. On this day 27 years ago the greatest athlete in the history of sports faced the ultimate demise of his illustrious career in the idyllic paradise of the Bahamas. An aged 39 year old Muhammad Ali fought for the last time against young heavyweight Trevor Berbick. Ali left the bout on his feet and with his legacy firmly intact, but as he said “sometimes we all grow old.”
When mentioning the greatest athletes of all-time folks from generations x, y, and whatever other letter we’re on now seem to be clouded by the legend of Michael Jordan and to a lesser extent, Tiger Woods. Older folks may still point to Babe Ruth, while some mention Ali. While all are worthy candidates, the debate begins and ends with Muhammad Ali. In the ring, no boxer in history matched the sheer combination of speed, power, strength of chin, ring generalship, and sheer charisma. Outside of the ring, no athlete, even His Airness, possessed the ability to transcend sport, unite people, polarize people, catalyze social movements, simultaneously being considered a symbol of hope and a symbol of revolution, and an international ambassador. Ali’s transformation from the “Louisville Lip” to the face of the black Muslims, to social activist to prodigal boxing son returning to glory, to aging warrior, to symbol of boxing’s ugliness, to international ambassador of peace and freedom took place on the world’s stage.
Ali’s craft was the art of war and through his trials and tribulations in the ring he defined the transforming world of his time. The downtrodden, the unemancipated, and the legions of unrepresented around the world found their inspiration in Ali. The hegemonic power structure feared Ali and his catalyzing capabilities. Thus, when Ali stood up and refused to go to Vietnam he was stripped of his title and banished from his place of work and artisty; the ring. Ali lost 3.5 years of his prime athleticism only to return reborn, reinvigorated, and determined to continue the fight. Ask yourself, would Lebron James or Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant or Jeff Gordon or Peyton Manning leave their respective sports in the prime on principle alone. No way, no how. Ali did, and because he did, no other athlete has ever felt that they should have to.
Upon his return, Ali coupled the skills of his youth a brazen maturity borne from the fire of indomitable spirit. In his absence, Joe Frazier ascended to the top of the boxing world. Ali immediately set his sights on Frazier. Their first fight at Madison Square Garden is the single greatest sporting event in history. Not only was this a battle of styles, Frazier’s old-school Philadelphia slugging versus Ali’s combination of speed and power. This was a battle of social proportions. The reigning champ, Frazier, was seen as a pawn for the existing social structure, while Ali symbolized the determination and antiestablishment pathos of the civil rights movement and the hippies. In the epic battle, Frazier emerged victorious and broke Ali’s jaw in the process. However, they would meet two other time including the “Thrilla In Manilla.”
In the late 1970s Ali became a symbol of the evils of boxing and of the classic notion of “athletes” holding on too long. Losses to Leon Spinks, Larry Holmes, and Trevor Berbick tarnished Ali’s image at the time and eventually led to his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. However, even shaky and with muted speech, Ali still captivates people to this day. His lighting of the Olympic torch in 1996 summed up his legacy. Though battle-tested and slightly worse for wear, the fiery passion for life Ali always possessed still burned brightly.
In a time when athletes have become excessively self-absorbed, glorified for menial accomplishments, and put on pedestals because of their salaries, it’s important to look back at Muhammad Ali and see how the greatest conducted himself throughout his nearly 50 years on the world stage. The sense of entitlement that exudes from most pro athletes leads them to the idea that they are invincible and above the law. In the fight game, the MMA-ification of both boxing and MMA has reduced fighters to gladiators and beasts, and the fighter as an artist of war has all but become extinct. So on this anniversary of the GOAT’s passing from athlete to icon the FlyMaster screams “All Hail the Goat and Long Live the Greatest.”
FlyMaster Signing Off…For Now!
Yet another sports weekend has come, gone, and receded into distant memory. From the BCS to the Pros to the ring, last weekend was action packed. Let’s roll.
- Florida and Tim Tebow rolled on the ‘Bama Tide, riding the wave all the way into the BCS Championship. Question. Is Tim Tebow back in the top 2-3 in Heisman consideration?
- Sam Bradford, with his slightly mongoloid looks, and the Sooners treated the Mizzou Tigers like hunters intent on migrating the Tigers from the endangered species list to the extinct list.
- In a battle of the Sooners and the Gators who wins? This will not be a defensive game reminiscient of the USC-Texas game a few years back. Bet the over and look for the Gators to outlast the Sooners.
- All other bowls were announced and in the effort of not boring you to death please allow Ye Olde FlyMaster break down the rotating door of corporate sponsors.
- Chik-Fil-A still sponsors a bowl. The chicken business is still good.
- Bell Helicopter sponsors the Armed Forces bowl. What the hell is Bell Helicopter?
- Roady’s now sponsors the Humanitarian Bowl. What the hell is Roady’s? Is it like Carrow’s or Applebees or is it a myspace for guitar techs, sound guys, and cocaine dealers?
- Gaylord Hotels sponsors the Music City Bowl. FlyMaster is all about social equality and justice, but staying at a Gaylord Hotel could be dicey. Word on the street is the halftime show is an “extravaganza of fabulous proportions.” Good luck Nashville.
- Eagle Bank sponsors a Bowl. Wait, didn’t all banks fail? Why is a small bank sponsoring a Bowl game? Sponsor my mortgage fool!
- Can we drop all this non-BCS school controversy. Boise State can moan louder than James Caan in Misery (post hobbling), but the fact of the matter is Utah had a great season and earned the ability to get boat-raced by Alabama in the annual “Small School Gets Owned by a Disgruntled Powerhouse Bowl.” Shut up and schedule some big boy football schools during the season and then maybe we’ll entertain your little brother complex.
- The Plaxidental shooting shook the Giants this weekend. The Eagles came to play and ran the division leaders easily. The Giants won’t be shaken for long, but they looked pedestrian against Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook.
- Hold the presses…the Arizona Cardinals won their division and will host their first playoff game since 1947. 1947? Here are some 1947 fun facts.
- Truman was President and the buck stopped there.
- People were sexing it up at an all-time high. Hence the baby boom.
- Gas was free and houses could be bought with a bail of hay and three domesticated animals.
- The internet was the lining on the inside of a pair of burlap swimtrunks.
- Zoot suits and pressing one’s hair was considered cool.
Television was the work of the devil.
- Back to the Cardinals. Looking at all potential NFC playoff teams, the Cardinals could do quite well because there’s only one cold weather team in the race, the Giants. That levels the playing field for the desert birds. Look for the Cardinals to swoop into the NFC Championship game. Did the FlyMaster really just say that?
- The world is crumbling.The Cowboys snatched defeat from the clutches of victory as Tony Romo gave the Steelers a go ahead TD late in the fourth. With that said, the Cowboys are still clinging on to the last playoff spot.
- Speaking of the Steelers…it’s time to put them on the list of all-time great defenses. These guys are aggressive, precise, and play like a cohesive unit. The Steelers are the favorite in the AFC. Plus, they have Hines Ward, the toughest guy with the whitest teeth.
The Titans keep rolling, but they look like the most suspect one loss team ever.
The Jets lost again, and now there’s a three way tie for the AFC East between the Bretts, the Former Brady’s, and the Parcells. Guaranteed…Grumpy ass Belichick and crew will win the division.
The Detroit Lions are 0-13. What an accomplishment? That’s like missing every question on an elementary school spelling test. That’s better than being the one guy at a desperate fat chick convention and not scoring a fling. No…it’s better than that. It’s like showing up to the desperate fat chick convention wearing a suit made of cake and ice cream, and still not sealing the deal. There’s no truth to the rumors that the Detroit Lions will be conducting seminars on professional excellence at Notre Dame and in Ann Arbor.
Does anyone want to win the AFC West? Sure the Broncos are comfortably ahead and will make the playoffs, but is any other team concerned about them? Doubt it.
Give Mike Singletary the 49ers job permanently. The niners played like a Super Bowl team and that just shows they’re taking on Singletary’s personality.
On to the major fight between Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya. Pac Man destroyed the bigger, slower De La Hoya in historic fashion. Speed nutralized size. Heart and intent conquered experience and legacy. De La Hoya was done from the opening bell. Not answering the bell for the ninth was completely unacceptable. You’re a legend. Man up and go out on your shield. As a longtime Golden Boy fan, it was rough to see him turn into Gold Dust, but Manny Pacquiao can’t be denied. Forget the fight with Hatton, bring back Floyd Gayweather Jr. so he can try and escape the Filipino Phenom.
Lastly, please allow the FlyMaster to pay homage to Greg Maddux, who will announce his retirement this week. In an era of power pitchers, Maddux’s control, mastery, and grittiness made him the poster child for baseball intellectualism (otherwise an oxymoron). With Clemens sullying his name, it can be argued that Maddux is the greatest righty in the modern era. Farewell!
FlyMaster Signing Off…For Now!