Sunday, June 20, 2010

20 JUN 10: Big Daddy's Big Dream

Happy Father's Day to you. If you're looking for a political topic tied to this day -- sorry. If I interviewed Jerry "Pops" Barnes for today, Nathan Suber might claim his real birthday falls on Election Eve.

"That's why they call me BIG DADDY!!" is a familiar shout on the Columbus poker circuit. The man who says it after winning a huge hand is big, all right - but he's not really a daddy. It's simply one of his nicknames. He wouldn't tell me his real name when I asked him - so I hope his picture doesn't trigger a Crimestoppers alert.

Buddha (with the towel over his shoulder) is the name this man most commonly uses at poker games. But for Father's Day, we'll call him Big Daddy - as he hopes to bring big-time fame to Columbus in a very different competition. No, he is NOT switching from poker to chess....

Big Daddy has been traveling to Atlanta, training to become a sumo wrestler. His first amateur tournament will be the U.S. Nationals next month in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Really now - when someone says "sumo wrestling," don't you automatically think of Wyoming? It must be something for people to do, if they think steer wrestling at rodeos is inhumane.

Big Daddy is getting a late start to sumo wrestling, at age 29. He told me Japanese sumo stars begin training much younger. Maybe so - but they don't have all the hamburger stands and steakhouses we have in the good old U.S.A.

Where Big Daddy could have an advantage in the U.S. Sumo Nationals is in heaviness. He admits he weighs "about 535 pounds," putting him a good 85 pounds above the heaviest U.S. wrestlers. Yes, I know - in almost every other walk of life, "a good 85 pounds" is considered an oxymoron.

Big Daddy says a friend in southern California talked him into trying sumo wrestling. Atlanta sumo master Packie Evans has him practicing moves, along with "weight training on the side." I didn't ask Big Daddy if that meant free weights, or lifting passing strangers.

Packie Evans likes Big Daddy's chances in the U.S. Nationals, as well as the U.S. Sumo Open in August. The open will take place in Anaheim, California, "just blocks from Disneyland" -- but I doubt anyone there will sing, "It's a small world after all."

There may even be females inside the circle at the U.S. Sumo Open. "Even women do sumo now," Big Daddy told me. For them, a "pick-up line" means waiting backstage to toss someone in the next bout.

But Big Daddy admits an endurance contest in the sumo circle could be trouble. "It's not a quick event," he explained - and for him, "two minutes is an eternity." So drivers waiting for traffic lights on Manchester Expressway can relate to him....

Big Daddy thinks his secret to success will come from being "more agile" than the other sumo wrestlers. "I'm good at short bursts," he told me. There's a line for single guys to write down, for the next time they're at a sports bar.

The U.S. sumo tournaments will offer him no more than a first-place trophy. Japan sumo stars make money as professionals -- but Big Daddy says some U.S. wrestlers get offered television deals. This man's easy-going personality would be perfect for commercials or comedies. He even could appear on a Tyler Perry production, because he says the number "fitty" so well.

When Big Daddy isn't playing poker, he makes money as a "carnie" at carnival side shows. If the Ferris wheel gets stuck, I'm sure he's always ready to give it a push.

But as you might guess, sometimes it's not easy being a Big Daddy. He admits to problems with arthritis, along with congenital joint damage. Yet at least he's out and exercising - not stuck in his bedroom, waiting for Jillian Michaels to show up.

We wish Big Daddy well with his summer sumo experiment. He might just become Columbus's next sports champion. And if he doesn't, he could become the worst training nightmare any Fort Benning combatives contestant ever faces.

-> Big Daddy is one of our regular opponents at local poker tables. Follow how we're doing (and more) at our other blog,"On the Flop!" <-

BIG PREDICTION UPDATE: At the other end of the scale In quite a change of topic, Miss Southern Heartland won the Miss Georgia pageant at the RiverCenter Saturday night. Christina McCauley didn't win a preliminary event until Friday night. Either that's when judges noticed her big cause is the Children's Miracle Network - or Scott Ressmeyer's motorcycle "posse" came to her rescue.

Christina McCauley defeated 39 other contestants to win the Miss Georgia pageant. She reached the top ten in the last two years - so it appears this time, we don't have to worry about her giving back the crown after 24 hours.

(McCauley advances to the Miss America pageant - where I somehow doubt we'll ever see a contestant display sumo wrestling as her "talent.")

I can't recall any other Miss Georgia having her own website, but Christina McCauley does. From there we learned her "Daddy" writes songs, and she's allergic to flowers. The picture of McCauley in Hawaii with a flower in her hair apparently was taken seconds before she sneezed her hair down across her face.

But Christina McCauley's win means in a way, I lost again. I picked Miss Cherokee Rose to win the Miss Georgia pageant - but Michaela Lackey failed to make the top four. Can I offer her a consolation prize? A free lunch with me? Oh yes, with no boyfriend present?

E-MAIL UPDATE: Friday night marked the first-ever Miss Georgia Pajama Run downtown. Which prompted a reader to ask....

Broadway Booze and Babes!!! So why was last night any different than normal?

Clearly the pajamas are what made the.... hey, wait a minute! Are you telling me pageant contestants were in an environment where alcohol was served? Now that's scandalous....

Let's see what other discoveries are happening this weekend:

+ Three candidates for Columbus Mayor spoke at the Fourth Street Baptist Church "A Call to Talk" meeting. I'd tell you what they said - but I became completely distracted when I saw on WTVM one of the name cards was misspelled "ZETH Baker." How do you get a four-letter first name wrong? Especially at a church, when the speaker is named after a book of the Bible?

+ Robert Bentley claimed a spot in the Alabama Republican runoff for Governor, after a recount showed him still 250 votes ahead of Tim James. Bentley declared his second-place accomplishment with a speech talking about the "sawdust and sweat" of Alabamians who want to work. So why doesn't he hire back his campaign manager?

+ Davis Broadcasting staged its annual "Family Day in the Park" at Cooper Creek Park. The late-night TV newscasts did not show this event - so they apparently took those warnings about heavy congestion on Milgen Road seriously.

+ The Columbus Lions licked Lafayette 58-55, to clinch a home playoff spot. Kickers on both teams booted "unos" during the game - kickoffs going through the uprights. So when will the Lions hand out souvenir Uno card decks, to celebrate this?

+ Instant Message to Tyler, at a Phenix City Taco Bell: I was only testing you. Next time, I'll truly know better - and order my meal in Spanish down the road at El Vaquero.

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