Comics gave me an early history lesson and interest in sociology. The stories reflected both the young generation’s perception of American society and even acted as a medium to address highly sensitive political and social issues.
The cool characters, sometimes campy stories and stunning art kept me entralled, and I picked up on slang and catch phrases - the language of the current pop culture. It was particularly fun to learn the culture and language of generations before mine.
Ah righty now, daddy-O! Time to get cranked and flipped on this issue of the Teen Titans! These cats are a kick! Ya dig!
side note: my brother and I had quite a collection of vintage, silver-age comic books (mid-50’s to late 60’s) like this Teen Titans issue.
3. Is it Italian or American?
4. The more varieties the better but preferably steamed, not fried
7. Tastes best cooked on a metal plate over charcoal
8. A little Hoisin and Sarachi sauce with it and I'm good
9. I like them crunchy or soft
10. Nothing special until you've had it in a spicy stew
1. Thai chicken, chili with basil
2. Because I can eat more without the rice
5. Simple goodness, salt and pepper is all this Korean soup needs
6. Preferred way to eat my Korean dumplings
Muhammad Ali certainly felt he left no doubt who was the best heavyweight champion of all time. Many also believe that he was, me being one of them. But it would be this young version of himself, with the lightning quick hands, feet and reflexes, that stood the best chance of beating the likes of Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis in their respective primes. Not the older, slower albeit stronger, more experienced Ali that showed tremendous grit, durability and intelligence in his epic wins over Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Ken Norton and Earnie Shavers in the 1970’s.
By the 70’s, Ali relied more on his toughness, experience and ring generalship because his once remarkable timing and reflexes had faded noticeably. And the Ali Shuffle was reduced to a waltz. I am not so certain that would have been enough to best the three boxers I think posed the greatest challenge to him in Holmes, Tyson and Lewis.
Larry Holmes was, in many ways, a better version of the 70’s Ali. He closely mirrored Muhammad with a steady jab, fast right cross and constant lateral movement. And Larry was almost his equal in size, toughness and intelligence. But his jab was busier and much more stiff, perhaps the best ever for a heavyweight. And his right cross was stronger as well and nearly as quick. Holmes also had more discipline than Ali and could not be psyched out by the verbal barrage that surly would have ensued as proven in the build-up prior to their 1980 fight, when a prime Holmes remain undaunted to overwhelm a completely faded, spent 38 year old Ali who was attempting a comeback after two years of inactivity.
Ali would have to be razor sharp and hungry, like he was here (pictured above) in the mid 60’s against Sonny Liston in their infamous second fight which ended suddenly from a punch delivered from Muhammad that many didn’t see. Those who did see it thought it didn’t carry enough power to fell a beast like Sonny. But history shows us that most knockouts occur when the punch is perfectly timed and the opponent did not see it. Many of Ali’s early knockouts came from a barrage of fast, slashing punches and ended with a quickly executed right cross. As important as his edge in speed and movement would be in his fight against Holmes, Muhammad would have to match Larry’s discipline and focus in preparation for the match and, of course, during the bout. I don’t believe Ali always had that discipline when he fought in the 70’s and he might have even have taken Holmes lightly, not seeing Larry as his equal. The fight would be very close with perhaps this young, faster, hungrier Ali squeezing out a decision win, maybe even controversially. Holmes’ jab, right cross and intelligence would have given any heavyweight all sorts of trouble.
I think the young Ali would need every ounce of his incredible hand speed, timing and reflexes against the much stronger and powerful Mike Tyson. And as in the case against Holmes, Ali would not enjoy a decided advantage in hand speed over Tyson as he did over all the rest. And this would have been even more so with Iron Mike, who possessed tremendous hand speed of his own. Ali would have to rely on his nimble, fresh legs to move in-and-out and side-to-side to offset an on-rushing Tyson and eventually discourage him. I feel more confident that he would have been up for the task when he was young and fast. The 70’s version of Ali might have beat Tyson as well, but I’m not as certain. And if he did, he wouldn’t have done it without enduring some serious punishment from Mike, punches he might have been able to elude in the 60’s. Even as Ali’s physical skills deteriorated, he always had more will than anyone else. He was mentally stronger than Mike. For this reason, I see Ali the victor in this dream match as well by either late rounds stoppage or a tough fought but well earned decision win.
Lennox Lewis would have been the one fighter, besides Holmes, that posed the most serious challenge to even this 60’s version of Ali. He would’ve been the biggest opponent Ali had faced and enjoy almost every conceivable physical advantage over Muhammad besides hand and foot speed, chin and stamina. Lennox’s powerful right cross was as potent as that of any heavyweight who ever stepped into the ring. He was maybe the best combination of a puncher with tremendous boxing ability since the likes of Joe Louis, only Lennox was much bigger, taller and stronger. At 6’5”, 245lbs and with an 84” reach that he used with full advantage, Lennox was two inches taller, had a four inch reach advantage and would be a whooping 30lbs heavier than a prime Ali! Those are some major advantages for someone so powerful, poised and skilled as Lewis was. Lennox was a near prototype for building the perfect heavyweight boxer except for maybe a weak chin and lapse of concentration or motivation (he did sometimes fight to the level of his competition if he did not perceive them to be a real threat).
I think the 60’s Ali would flurry and quickly dart in-and-out to avoid danger, pepper Lewis with rapier fire shots, constantly moving, and eventually tire the much bigger man and win a chess match that would not see a whole lot of action by either fighter. I believe it would have been a different story for the older version of Ali of the 70’s. Muhammad was in his thirties by this point. He was measurably slower and less mobile, spending less time moving on his toes in the center of the ring and more time flat-footed, leaning against the ropes. Muhammad could not dodge as many shots and threw fewer punches. He would, therefore, have a much harder time getting past the height and reach of Lewis. Consequently, I feel this fight might have a different outcome.
Lennox would be motivated, pace himself and keep busy with his long jab and left hook to score often enough from long distance and maintain a more comfortable range from Ali’s quick counter shots. Ali would also be cautious of Lewis’ dangerous right cross and initiate fewer attacks for most of the fight. Lewis would use his superior strength and size advantage to be the aggressor or to push Ali off when Muhammad tried to tie him up and use the uppercut to good effect when he got through. Lennox would fade badly against the more durable and determined Ali who would mount a serious comeback, throwing the more frequent and accurate shots in exchanges as the battle waned. But I could see him holding on in this one to pull off a decision victory over the “Greatest of All Times.”
The shy but determined 19 year old Kim Yuna’s spectacular gold medal winning performance in 2010 was unquestionably one of the greatest moments in Korean sports history. I felt both joy and relief for her in victory, emotions she certainly must have felt standing there on the podium this night. There was tremendous pressure and lofty expectations to win impressively going into the competition from her fans and countrymen. But instead of buckling under the pressure, Yuna excelled as no female skater had previously before her. She skated her best performance, a near flawless and world record breaking performance!
This medal ceremony was one of the best moments on television for me in 2010 and a proud moment as a Korean. I hope she can continue to display her tremendous talents at the top, championship level, while staying grounded and show the same grace and humility that has endeared her to so many fans.
Mexican boxing legend Julio Caesar Chavez, affectionately known as JC Superstar, was one of the greatest fighters in history. Chavez won multiple titles in the lower weight divisions in the late 80’s through the early 90’s.
Julio perfected the trademark punch of previous Mexican greats, the left hook. His hook broke ribs and dislodged eye sockets. His indomitable will broke opponents’ spirit. He was a relentless pressure fighter, incredibly durable and seem to get stronger in the later rounds if the opponent managed to last that long.
I wanted to be a professional boxer at one time. At 5’7” and 127 to 130lbs, I was a sinewy built featherweight or junior lightweight. I was fast, good sized and had good power in my hands. But this would mean I would be fighting in the same weight classes as Chavez.
Time and time again, I saw how effortlessly he would dash the championship title dreams of so many boxers that opposed him. Fast guys, strong punchers, naturally bigger opponents, smart tacticians. It didn’t seem to matter who was in front of him. He would beat them all, often demoralizing them. No one was the same after fighting him. And with over 80 wins without a loss, Julio was nearing his prime. He seemed unbeatable, virtually a perfect fighting machine. And he was getting better!
How would I be able to beat someone so formidable? Was it worth committing to the long hours in the gym to develop my skills? And would my skills be enough to ever beat the great JC Superstar? His confident quiet calm was as intimidating as Tyson’s rage and fire. I definitely had my doubts and opted to focus on getting into college.
I wish I was encouraged to read more when I was growing up. My reading was limited to endlessly flipping through the pages of the World Book of Encyclopedia and skimming through the captions on the pictures. There were some enjoyable light reading. Curious George, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, most Richard Scarry’s Busytown stories and any book on dinosaurs or animals were all among my favorites. All I read basically from then on were comic books, maybe a few short stories on some of my favorite athletes and lots of boxing magazines.
Reading wasn’t fun for me. I was a slow reader and it felt like too much work. I’d rather watch TV or play outside.
I somehow managed to get through high school without cracking open a book. Not too many anyway. CliffNotes and the help and kindness of a few close friends briefed me on the mandatory reading. I had deprived myself but did not feel that way back then.
I could have discovered the stories of some of my favorite authors like John Steinbeck, Ray Bradbury and George Orwell, and my love of history, politics, literature and social sciences much sooner.
It wasn’t until much later, even after college, I began to read in earnest. Aside from reading my Bible almost every night (a promise I made to God and myself sometime in high school), I have gone back and read Animal Farm, The Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, Fahrenheit 451 and most of the books I was suppose to read in middle school and high school.
Now I have a love of reading books. I’ve make it a goal of mine to read at least four novels a year. There’s no better time than the present to make up for lost time.
I remember looking at the toilet one day and the water in the bowl was colored blue. About the same time, I recall biting into a green colored Fisher Price building block hoping it was chocolate, playing with my Lincoln Logs and eating rinsed kimchi and rice.