Fat athletes are dope.
Few things give me more joy when watching sports than when a professional athlete who also happens to be fat does something good. Football, basketball, baseball, or combat sports, it doesn’t matter; fat guys make it better (this may be the reason I never got into hockey, they need more fat guys).
It’s my opinion that we don’t celebrate these world-class athletes and burger eaters as much as we should. So I decided to hand out some awards and give some recognition to my favorite type of athlete in pro sports.
Because fat athletes are dope.
The All-Time Best Fat Athlete From Each Sport
As much as I really (REALLY) wanted to give this one to Bartolo Colon, I can’t overlook the O.G. fat athlete. No fat athlete in any other sport can lay claim to being the GOAT, which is why Ruth gets the nod here.
Winner: Babe Ruth, New York Yankees
Honorable Mentions: Bartolo Colon, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, David Ortiz, C.C. Sabathia
The defensive tackle position is always stocked with big fat guys that could also outrun you in a 40-yard dash. William “The Refrigerator” Perry was a superstar for the 1985 Chicago Bears by regularly scoring goal line rushing touchdowns despite being nearly 400 pounds. Fridge still remains the most iconic football fat guy in history.
Winner: William Perry, Chicago Bears
Honorable Mentions: Warren Sapp, Jared Lorenzen, Vince Wilfork, Gilbert Brown
Again, not a surprising choice here. Charles Barkley is easily the best basketball player that also had the gut of a 50-year-old father of three. Despite that, he was a devastating train of force and NBA MVP who is considered one of the best power forwards of all time. (Side note: I mention Zach Randolph in this category but know that I would never call Zach Randolph fat to his face because I enjoy breathing.)
Winner: Charles Barkley, Philadelphia 76ers/Phoenix Suns/Houston Rockets
Honorable Mentions: Boris Diaw (more on him later), Shawn Kemp at the end of his career, Zach Randolph, Eddy Curry
Unfortunately, there is a shortage of fat guys when it comes to combat sports (not including pro wrestling, which I could write 5,000 words on fat guys in wrestling alone). However, one man stands above the rest. Eric Esch, otherwise known as Butterbean.
Butterbean is probably my favorite boxer of all time despite me not seeing a single fight of his. Even though he looked like an actual giant bean come to life, Eric Esch was a badass in that ring. Winning 77 fights (58 by knockout) over his boxing career (and 17 more MMA fights) and two world championships. My dad, who’s a big boxing guy, once gave me a signed photo of Butterbean and it still hangs in my childhood bedroom to this day, proudly.
Winner: Eric Esch A.K.A “Butterbean” (Boxing/MMA)
Honorable Mentions: Daniel Cormier (LOL)
Best Fictional Fat Athlete
Lot of good choices here, but I have to go with my guy from my favorite football movie of all time who literally helped bridge the gap between the black players and white players, Louie Lastik. Also, he can eviscerate you with a wicked “yo mamma” joke from out of nowhere.
(Confession: I’ve never seen The Sandlot. I don’t know where I was when apparently every boy from my generation watched it together but I guess I was gone that day. I didn’t know it was supposed to be such a big deal. I’ve thought about watching it now, but I feel like I wouldn’t enjoy it watching it for the first time as an adult. So I probably never will watch it. Oh well.)
Also, shoutout to Coco Diaz for his award-winning performance as Big Tony and delivering the best line in an otherwise pretty mediocre Adam Sandler film.
Winner: Louie Lastik, Remember the Titans
Honorable Mentions: that fat kid from The Sandlot, Big Tony (The Longest Yard), the two fat offensive linemen from The Replacements.
Best Fat Nickname
Strong field for this category. Barkley’s is great but a bit long. Any nickname with “Big” followed by anything is good for a fat guy, which is why I love “Big Papi” (David Ortiz) and “Big Sexy” (Bartolo Colon). I already talked about the fridge and Butterbean earlier. I got to give props to my childhood hero Gilbert Brown and “The Gravedigger” as well, because that’s a pretty incredible nickname.
But when it comes down to it, “Hefty Lefty” is the most perfect nickname for a fat athlete ever. It encapsulates everything about Jared Lorenzen while also being catchy and funny. He’s a left-handed quarterback who is fat. Boom. You got that all in two words. Plus, it’s memorable. I guarantee you’re more likely to remember “Hefty Lefty” than Jared Lorenzen. He should just legally change his name to that at this point.
Winner: Jared Lorenzen A.K.A. “Hefty Lefty”
Honorable Mentions: Charles Barkley A.K.A. “The Round Mound of Rebound”, David Ortiz A.K.A. “Big Papi”, Bartolo Colon A.K.A. “Big Sexy”, William “The Refrigerator” Perry, Gilbert Brown A.K.A. “The Gravedigger”, Eric Esch A.K.A. “Butterbean”
Best Fat Play
Another competitive category, but I think we all know who the winner must be. As much joy as there is in a fat guy touchdown, no play was more impressive, more impactful, and more legendary then by the home run by who we all believe to be the greatest baseball player ever.
Winner: Bartolo Colon
Sexiest Fat Athlete
Bartolo continues to add to his trophy case.
Winner: Bartolo Colon
Honorable Mentions: David Ortiz, Jon Daly, Vince Wilfork
The Secretly Most Athletic Fat Athlete
Originally this was just going to be “Most Athletic Fat Athlete” but then I probably would have to have given it to Charles Barkley, and that’s boring. It’s much more interesting to talk about fat athletes who are actually freaks of nature.
Which brings us to Boris Diaw. There’s a story about the portly power forward who’s bounced around the NBA for the better part of a decade, varying in effectiveness. There’s an anecdote from this wonderful Marc Stein piece on Boris Diaw from 2014, and the story told by David Griffin when Diaw was on the Suns is truly amazing. Here it is:
“Boris walks into the gym one day wearing flip-flops and holding his customary cappuccino, which was a staple for him every morning,” Griffin recalled. “It was during pre-draft workouts, so he sees the Vertec [machine] and asks what it is.
“We tell him it measures your vertical leap by determining how many of the bars you can touch. He asks what’s the highest anyone has ever gone, and we tell him Amare’ [Stoudemire] cleared the entire rack.
“Boris puts down the cappuccino, takes off his flip-flops and clears the entire rack on the first try. Then he calmly puts his flip-flops back on, picks up his cappuccino and walks away, saying, ‘That was not difficult.’”
God damn legend.
Winner: Boris Diaw
That’s all the awards we’re going to hand out today. I hope you have a finer appreciation for the fat professional athlete, and will now support them with all your heart.