Back at the World Cup 2007 in England, India ‘s Robin Uttappa edged a ball off Bermuda’s Malachi Jones to the slips. The batsman couldn’t believe what happened next..
An obese gentleman, 127 kg and all, dived to his left and plucked the ball off the air. It was a stunning, brilliant catch which has gone down in the history of World Cup cricket.
That was Bermuda’s Dwayne Leverlock, sometimes policeman, sometimes police van driver and part-time cricketer who went on to assume cult status. He lived on top of a curry house which helped pile on the pounds.
With the lard jiggling as he came up to the wicket to bowl left-arm spin, Leverlock was the feel-good cricketer of that World Cup. He could swing the bat hard too.
So does obesity hamper when it comes to sport? There are a many who have debunked this myth by putting in weighty performances. They have proved that you don’t have to possess an athletic build, all muscle and sinew, to become a top sportsperson.
The second highest wicket taker in Test cricket, Shane Warne, once said, “I just have to look at a pint of beer and food and I put on a kilo.” But despite the constant battle of the bulge, Warne went on to be a star performer for Australia.
England had Colin Milburn, who played in the 60s. He was more than 100 kg and was once dropped for his bulk. Word went around early in his career that Milburn put on one stone (around 6.3 kg) every birthday.
But Milburn’s hard-hitting batting was admired before his Test career was cut short due to an eye injury.
In golf, the inimitable John Daly continued to grace the course, blond hair and bulk be damned. Daly has often admitted that he loves to drink, smoke and gamble. It has put additional pressures on his life, but he has survived.
He was known as Long John because his of long drives off the tee. Daly has won two majors, done charity work and also cut music albums. He still is a huge figure on the courses and has achieved cult status.
Daly underwent lap-band surgery in the early 200s but he gained weight easily again. He now weighs around 100 kg and claims he lost 31 kg through a diet of Jack Daniel’s whiskey and popcorn!
Brazilian striker Ronaldo was not amused when England’s Michael Owen tweeted, “I thought I was putting the pounds on until I saw my old mate Ronnie..” It did not amuse Ronaldo but he has to admit that he is facing a weight issue, particularly now.
It also prompted Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello to ask the star, “Aren’t you ashamed of being fat?’
In American football, Chicago Bears’ defensive linesman William Perry was six feet, two inches and weighed an astounding 172 kg. He was popular with the fans and did well in the Super Bowl XX. He was known as The Fridge.
Darts champion Andy Fordham weighted a whopping 197 kg during his heydays in the early 2000s. But he faced health issues and lost almost 107 kg later and returned in 2008.
Baseball player Cecil Fielder weighed in at 127 kg while playing for the Detroit Tigers. He was a power hitter and that extra weight behind the bat helped him to hit long distances. His son, Prince, also played for the Tigers and weighed 125 kg.
The late Canadian pool player Bill Werbeniuk had a different take on his weight issue. Big Bill, as he was known, said that he needed to drink before and during the matches to overcome tremors.
He drank six pints of beer before the match, and one pint per frame.
Big Bill will always be remembered for his actions during a match telecast live. Unable to reach a ball on the table due his bulk, Big Bill stretched and the ripping of his trousers was heard loud and clear, which had the audience in splits.
God bless your soul Bill.