Sent: Friday, June 01, 2007 8:51 AM
Subject: Mile High Sports Daily
June 1, 2007
Volume 1, Issue 225
POST: Paige - Rockies again so mediocre
POST: He really is King James
NEWS: Broncos add special intensity
NEWS: Rox not satisfied with split
NEWS: Lincicome - NFL offers dose of hypocrisy
MHSM: MHSD subscribers save $160 at Coors Fitness Center
Today's Feature Story
Face it. We're in the middle of the dog days of summer. Until the Rockies won seven straight, most of you were asleep at the wheel.
In these parts, this is simply the worst time of year to be a sports fan. The Rockies? They're going nowhere (don't let the streak fool you). The NBA playoffs? They're nothing more than conspiracy involving David Stern, Tim Duncan and a few tapes containing "dirt" on someone. The chase for Lord Stanley's Cup? It happens when the Avs aren't chasing? Seriously?
Unfortunately, June, July and August are to the Colorado sports fan what winter is to a bear. Zzzzzzzz.
Not so fast. Enter one of the summer's zaniest - dare I say, "best" - sporting events: The Shawn Ray Colorado Pro/Am Bodybuilding and Figure Classic. I know, it's a mouthful; but trust me, if you're bored with the current offering, don't short yourself this weekend.
The Shawn Ray Classic (let's call it that for short), doesn't offer what we're used to. Furthermore, I'm not going to pretend to know much about any of the sports that will be taking place on Friday and Saturday at the Colorado Convention Center. Mixed martial arts, boxing, karate, power lifting, strong man competitions, kickboxing, bodybuilding, IFBB pro figure competitions, Highland games, jujitsu and my favorite - arm wrestling - will all be showcased at the Classic.
I'm not necessarily a fan of these sports - don't follow them, don't really have a history of understanding them. But I can tell you this: The best of the best of the best will be on display right here in Denver, and I'd pay to watch the best of anything. There's nothing better than watching the "greatest" of any activity, sport or skill.
"There are a lot of people in this world," says Travis Bagent, the best arm wrestler in the world who also happens to run and promote the NAL (National Arm Wrestling League), which will be on display at the Classic in Denver tonight. "I don't care what it is - jump roping, basketball, whatever. To be the best, you're better than a lot of people."
Think about it. Regardless of what you're into, wouldn't it be nice to place "world's best" somewhere on your résumé? World's best dancer. World's best typist. World's best knot tier. World's best gum chewer. You name it.
The arm wrestling competition, in my estimation, is the best example of this. From 3:30 in the afternoon until approximately 6:00, "Six of the world's best arm wrestlers will be vying for NAL titles" according to Bagent.
To point, in the lightweight class, in what will perhaps be the most anticipated bout of the evening, rivals and friends Andrew "Cobra" Rhodes and Allen Fisher will grapple for the right to be called the NAL's best. Rhodes currently holds the distinction, but the 50-year-old Fisher, an ESPN regular and the No. 1 contender, will try to take it away.
Rhodes knows what it's like to be the best in the world. Before surviving a severe car accident just four-and-a-half years ago, Rhodes was the Man.
"You can't be at the elite level of anything without going through the fire," he says after a lengthy rehabilitation that has landed him atop the heap once again.
Even Fisher helped Rhodes in his recovery.
"Allen helped me heal," says Rhodes.
But neither man will be helping each other tonight.
The heavyweight class offers another intriguing match-up. Marcio Barboza, a 35-year-old Brazilian will attempt to knock 42-year-old John Brzenk off of his perch.
"Brzenk is a freak," says Bagent. "He's a legend - arguably one of the best ever."
Does the name "Brzenk" sound familiar? It should. How about the name "Sly Stallone"? Stallone and Brzenk will be forever linked.
Remember the movie 1986 movie "Over the Top?" Sure you do (don't act like you didn't see it, driving your Trans Am to the movie theatre, listening to Survivor all the way). The movie, perhaps the only blockbuster arm wrestling flick ever made, was patterned after Brzenk's story.
At age 19, Brzenk won an arm wrestling competition and in the process claimed stake to a $100,000 semi-truck, the prize for his efforts. The story was chronicled in "Over the Top." Afterward, he took a job with Delta Airlines; at the time, his incentive was to be able to fly all over the world to compete in arm wrestling matches. Tonight, nearly 23 years later, he'll be doing his thing right here in Denver.
And in the super heavyweight class, Bagent himself will be holding court. The world's top arm wrestler will be defending the crown against No. 1 contender Ron Bass.
Bagent is 30 years old and tips the scales at 275 pounds. He's not fat; rather, he's a mean, lean, world-class athlete. He's not only the best right-handed arm wrestler in the world, but he'll switch it up and beat anyone on the planet lefty, too. Just ask him.
The point is Bagent and his arm wrestlers are the best. It's not often you can witness the best. Heck, you can probably take on the best if you've got the courage. On Saturday, the competition opens up. Bagent expects nearly 50 local participants to enter a double-elimination tournament that will ultimately produce a winner on Saturday who will earn the right to take on the top dog on the NAL's next stop.
The beauty of it all, whether we're talking arm wrestling, bodybuilding or karate, is that the event will feature sport for sport's sake - pure, innocent and for the love of whatever game is on display. Vyotech Nutritionals is putting up plenty of dough to sponsor the weekend, but it won't be long before big money removes the innocence of such events.
"A guy who makes a little to win an arm wrestling match will take on a challenger," says Bagent, who has seen his sports grow exponentially in the last 10 years, as evidenced by ESPN's growing coverage in the last two years. "He might not when $100,000 is at stake."
So before you hit snooze on the summer sports docket, check out the Shawn Ray Classic. The best in the world are sure to wake you up, even in the dog days of summer.
For tickets or information on the Shawn Ray Colorado Pro/Am Bodybuilding and Figure Classic log onto www.coloradoproshow.com
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