Monday, August 13, 2007

Boxing Nicknames: The Final Frontier

Not long ago, I noticed basketball players didn't have as many nicknames as they once did, and that their overall quality has dipped. Dubbing Tracy McGrady "T-Mac" hardly accomplishes much by way of artistry, does it? Give me back Charles Barkley, aka "The Round Mound of Rebound." Boxing, for whatever faults I'm willing to concede it has in comparison to other sports, stands at the summit by itself in the category of nicknames.

Many are familiar and recycled. "Sugar," "Kid," and others are so commonplace they have lost some of their obvious appeal. While thinking about writing a post about great boxing nicknames, I noticed that others who have put together similar lists have favored either the menacing-sounding ("Iron" Mike Tyson) or the familiar (Thomas "The Hitman" Hearns, now a common nickname and not even Hearns' best nickname by my standard [That being "The Motor City Cobra"]).

For me, what makes a good nickname is creativity or strangeness. With that, I've assembled below -- in no particular order -- my 20 favorite boxing nicknames for active fighters, with commentary. The list might be better if it included fictional ones (Apollo Creed, "The Count of Monte Fisto," being the finest I stumbled across in perhaps all boxing history, real or imagined) or those affixed to former fighters (on ESPN's list, #4, Chuck "The Bayonne Bleeder" Wepner -- the real boxer Rocky Balboa is based upon -- is fantastic). But I think it's more relevant to stick to active boxers, because it proves my point: When it comes to nicknames, boxing is the sport where they truly thrive.
  • Andrew "Six Heads" Lewis: Apparently, a blurry-eyed, felled opponent in the amateurs was being inspected by a ring doctor, who asked him what he saw. Looking at Lewis, he remarked that he had six heads.
  • Vladimir Klitschko, "Dr. Steelhammer," and Vitali Klitschko, "Dr. Ironfist": Both brothers have doctorates, adding an awesome supervillain-like prefix to what would be pretty good nicknames in and of themselves.
  • Calvin Brock, "The Boxing Banker": Keeping with the tradition of the Klitschkos, Brock has a degree in finance, thus the not-very-intimidating-sounding "Boxing Banker." Vladimir knocked out Brock a few fights back. Better work on that doctorate, Calvin.
  • Darnell "Ding-A-Ling Man" Wilson: "Ding-A-Ling Man" is a favorite of both list-makers who prefer the wacky and those more serious-minded about their boxing nicknames.
  • Andrew Golota, "The Foul Pole": Maybe this wouldn't count in a more regimented list, since Andrew didn't name himself that. He earned it instead by having a tendency for low blows and by being Polish.
  • Nate Campbell, "The Galaxxy Warrior": Just plain science fiction silly, this one, but apparently related to a gym Nate boxed in that bore the double-X spelling of the word "galaxy."
  • DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley: Even if his punches "chop" people down, it's entertaining that his nickname doubles as a command to a servant.
  • Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao: Obviously he derives this from his last name, but I'm reminded of Marvelous Marvin Hagler hilariously telling HBO about his legendary fight with Hearns that he had decided he was going to gobble him up like Pac-Man. Hagler obliged in the interview by slowly opening his mouth wide then shutting it quickly and repeatedly while making an eating noise. I think Manny beat out "Pacman" Jones for this one, chronologically.
  • Friday "The 13th" Ahunanya: It's a good thing his first name is Friday, because by itself, "The 13th" is just a non sequitur. Together? Spooooooooky.
  • Owen "What The Heck?" Beck: This one has the combined advantage of rhyming and being a standalone sentence.
  • Acelino "Popo" Freitas: His mother gave him the nickname as a newborn, mimicking the sound that Brazilians identify as a baby sucking on a bottle -- "popo." Fittingly, he quit his two most recent big fights because he didn't like they way they were going.
  • Juan Lazcano, "The Hispanic Causing Panic": Ethnic-based nicknames are common, and vary from the good -- here, again, rhyming is a real asset -- to the awful.
  • Sergio Mora, "The Latin Snake": This is not near as good as "The Hispanic Causing Panic," but the imagery is interesting.
  • Brian Viloria, "The Hawaiian Punch": He's from Hawaii, and he punches for a living, so "The Hawaiian Punch" is a natural.
  • Kingsley "Sharp Knuckle" Ikeke: Ouch.
  • Andre Ward, "The All-Terrain Fighter": I've read that he's abandoned this one. Sad, because I enjoy picturing him fighting in quicksand, say, or on hot coals.
  • Oliver McCall, "The Atomic Bull": McCall, an otherwise dangerous heavyweight, made his name with his strange in-ring breakdown against Lennox Lewis where he decided to stop fighting but refused to quit all together, instead turning his back on Lennox and crying between rounds. So "The Atomic Bull" would be good for its comic book quality, but it's all the better for the fitting match it evokes of out-of-control power.
  • DaVarryl "Touch of Sleep" Williamson: When his fists touch you, you go to sleep, get it? That this somehow sounds so delicate an encounter adds a nice contrast.
  • Marco Antonio Barrera, "The Baby-Faced Assassin": Baby-faced assassins are absolutely the worst kind.
I'm open to improving this list -- "The Latin Snake" will be the first to go -- so if you stumble across something better, please do inform.

Andrew "Six Heads" Lewis was just one head shy of being nicknamed "The Hydra." Not too shabby, but I'm glad he didn't knock the guy out that bad. (from


JimPanzee said...

I failed to mention how much I enjoyed this post. Also, how much I enjoy, in general, your pictures and captions. "Vernon Forrest" may have been a touch easy but Baromir, the Hatchet, and the Hydra mmmmwah!

THE BRYGUY said...

I like where you're going, but I prefer the short sweet nicknames. For your list I think you could have included the "Nigerian Nightmare" Sam Peter, and O'Niel "Give em' Hell" Bell. I would also like to take this chance to say I hate the fact that they are now calling "Bad" Chad Dawson, Chad "Awesome" Dawson. SO STUPID!

beetqueen said...

Maybe "The Latin Snake" isn't talking about his boxing style...if you know what I mean...wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

He probably has some pet snakes at home.

specialagentdalecooper said...

I wish I was the Hispanic Panic guy. Or the Count of Monte Fisto (which would make me imaginary). Damn, those are some good nicknames.

eugenedammrod said...

Good list. The author should consider making a Boxing's Worst Nicknames list.

I nominate Greg "I'm On Ya" Page, and John "The Quiet Man" Ruiz.

dammrod said...

Chad "Awesome" Dawson sounds like the name of a surfer or an 80s skateboarder.

Tim -- said...

I like and will consider adding the following -- Nigerian Nightmare; I'm On Ya. Also, bryguy, I missed one I should've seen on your site: Sugar Poo.

Peter was an omission I shouldn't have left off. I can't find any Greg Page on boxrec's list of active fighters, however.

Awesome is kind of funny, albeit stupid. I'll think about that one. The Quiet Man doesn't do it for me for some reason. Maybe it's my distaste for the boxer himself, because it's good otherwise. Give 'Em Hell Bell actually inspired the list, and he maybe belongs, but I prefer the similar What The Heck? Beck.

Thanks, all on the hydra comments, the reflections upon snakehood, and wishing one could be a fictional character.

THE BRYGUY said...

I have the best one yet! Jeremy "Half-Man, Half-Amazing" Williams. Wow, now THAT "is awesome"