I recently treated you to the tale of the smallest baseball player in history, and last week’s quiz gave us the tallest player in professional football history: Richard Sligh. Never heard of him? You’re not alone. He played for the Oakland Raiders in 1960s. Well, that might be an exaggeration. He was on their roster. I was hoping that Sligh would have been a wide receiver, and I was picturing this spindly guy looking like Manute Bol, bounding down the sidelines and swatting away defenders like gnats.
But who are we kidding? A guy with this physique playing football would have his giraffe-like legs snapped in half in no time. Alas, Richard Sligh was 7’2″ and a rather heavier 300 or so pounds. He played defensive tackle, not wideout (note for casual football fans: defensive tackles are really huge dudes who slam into almost-as-huge offensive tackles on every play and make it very dangerous for tiny little running backs who run the risk of being stepped on or eaten whenever they step on the field). See if you can find our man in this team picture.
Hint: he’s very tall. Sadly Sligh only played eight games and by all accounts he wasn’t that good.
Other Huge Guys In Sports
Freakishly huge people generally have a hard time in high-level athletics because they are simply too big, too heavy, too ungainly, etc to play effectively. Basketball is probably the most notable exception where being large is obviously helpful, but even still being too huge will absolutely kill your knees and so on. I love it when giant people compete against mere mortals. The greatest example of this is, of course, the legendary Andre the Giant.
He got rides to school from his neighbour Samuel Beckett (yes him) when he became too big to ride the school bus, and could supposedly drink over 120 beers and live. He was the greatest. But pro wrestling isn’t a real combat sport, you say? Fair enough. Enter Hong Man Choi.
The Korean Colossus Hong Man Choi is a 7’4″ kick boxer and mixed martial arts fighter. His major advantage over opponents is being freaking huge. Check this out:
It looks like a video game glitch but, no, that’s a real match up. Choi was a pretty decent kick boxer, but he then moved to mixed martial arts, a sport which involves ground striking, grappling, and submission holds, allowing a skilled fighter to negate large height and reach advantages by other means. One of Choi’s first matches was against… Jose Canseco?! Yes. A Japanese fighting promotion put together something they called the Super Hulk Tournament, which was a battle between a bunch of freaks, nobodies, and attention seekers.
Disgraced baseball player and noted steroid user Jose Canseco will do anything for money. For a while you could pay him to hang out with him at his house, and with that scheme failing he decided to become a professional fighter (later he would get busted for sending his twin brother to fight in his place, seriously). And so it came to pass that a totally overmatched and tragically unprepared Jose Canseco got in a ring with a giant killing machine. The match begins with Jose throwing a decent right, staying out of the Giant’s grasp, and attempting some totally ridiculous kicks, such that his main source of pre-fight preparation appears to be playing street fighter as Ken. Then things take a turn for the worse.
I have to admit that I rather enjoyed that, since I hate Jose Canseco. Watching that you can’t but think that a 7’4″ fighter with some decent power would be virtually unstoppable, right? Yes indeed. But technique still counts for something, as the Colossus found out when he faced Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor takes a few brutal shots and things don’t look good. Then the fight goes to the ground and things still don’t look good as Choi gets on top. But… things are not always as they seem and Hong Man’s lack of submission defence rears its head.
Lesson for the folks at home: don’t fight Russians. Ever.
Jose Canseco attained legendary status when he surrendered a home run, during an actual professional game, by sending a ball over the wall off of his head.