MANASQUAN, NJ – “I’m Irish. I think about death all the time.” This was one of Jack Nicholson’s famous quotes. With another Saint Patrick’s Day in the books, I decided to dedicate this Substitute Saturday to some of the scores of Dead & Alive Irish Sports Legends. A bit morbid, but considering the alternatives I feel this to be an appropriate time to allow us to honor some Micks who have met their maker – and some who will in due time.
Jack Dempsey – A top ten boxer on most lists, Dempsey was Irish with some Cherokee Indian in him. He left his impoverished household at age 16 and made a living as a barroom brawler until he hit the big time.
James J. Braddock: The Cinderella Man captured the Heavyweight Title by defeating Max Baer, father of Jethro Bodine.
Born in New York City, Braddock was a down on his luck, family guy living in Small Matt’s hometown of North Bergen, New Jersey. He overcame 10-1 odds to upset the Champion in a fifteen round brawl in Long Island City at The Madison Square Garden Bowl.
Ben Hogan: Probably the most famous golfer( yawn) of all time, Hogan and family came to the US from Ireland. After his father blew his own brains out, Hogan made money as a caddie and later quit High School to begin his illustrious career. Rumor is that he began The a Irish tradition of drinking on the links!
Jason Kidd: That’s right, there is such a thing as ” Black Irish.” This ten time NBA All- Star turned coach shares the heritage of the Blarney with many of the management and staff at MTM on his mother’s side. Maybe his propensity to throw down on guys and girls comes from that Shamrock side of him?
Ken Shamrock: Nice segue, right? Known during his career as “The Worlds Most Dangerous Man,” Kenneth Kilpatrick was left to fend for himself after spending time in a juvenile home at the age of ten. He was kicked out of his home at age thirteen and wound up at Bob Shamrock’s Home for Boys. He eventually was adopted and took on the Shamrock name. This bad-ass fought well into his forties.
Mickey Ward: See the pattern? Here is yet another Irish pugilist. Now 51, Irish Mickey is best known for his trilogy of fights with the late Arturo Gatti. Ward has seen more punches than a speed bag during his lifetime. He is now managing his gym and counting stars.
There are many more, however I am downing a few pints in honor of my heritage! Feel free to chime in with yours and save the March Madness talk ’til after this first weekend. With that, I leave you with these Gaelic words of wisdom:
“Dress a goat in silk and he still remains a goat = You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”
Come back tomorrow for some sage sports knowledge from Honorary Irishman Cheesy McBruin! Chime in and follow us at @GrindingAxWalt & @MeetTheMattson Twitter… Instagram @MeetTheMatts and Facebook Meet The Matts.