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My New Competitive Heroes: A Fat Guy and a Librarian

June 4th, 2019 · No Comments · Boxing, Jeopardy!

Two fun developments over the past few days:

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man won the heavyweight boxing championship, and a librarian ended a reign of terror on the game show “Jeopardy!”

Both results were unexpected. And welcome.

The first hero was Andy Ruiz Jr., winning a seventh-round knockout victory over the previously unbeaten Englishman Anthony Joshua … and the second was Emma Boettcher, who played a nearly perfect game to bring closure to the 32-episode rampage of “professional gambler” James Holzhauer on the staid set of “Jeopardy!”

Bravo! Twice over!

Ruiz was a 12-1 underdog on some Las Vegas lines, and everybody grasped the reason for that when Ruiz took off his shirt. The Mexican-American from Imperial, California, was variously described by the New York Times as “short” and “flabby” and “doughy”. Follow the link and you can see why.

Ruiz, 29, is 6-foot-2, so he isn’t quite “short” but he most certainly is doughy. Or flabby. He weighed in at 268 pounds, and more than a little of that weight is not muscle. At the weigh-in, ahead of the fight, Joshua’s British fans chanted at Ruiz that he was “a fat bastard”.

Ruiz was knocked down in the third round by the well-toned 6-foot-6, 247-pound multiple champion, who was fighting for the first time in the U.S., but Ruiz bounced up to knock down Joshua with a blow to the head, and Ruiz closed out the fight in the seventh when he sent Joshua to the canvas twice. His record is now 33-1.

Commentators were quick to attribute the victory to a Mexican, the first heavyweight title for that country, and Ruiz competed internationally for Mexico. But he is an American citizen by dint of his birth in California, and suddenly Americans hold all five heavyweight titles — four by Ruiz, the fifth by Deontay Wilder.

(Almost like the old days, when the world heavyweight champion was American for decades at a time.)

Suddenly, the heavyweight division looks downright interesting, in this post-Klitschko era, dominated by the dour Ukrainian brothers Wladimir and Vitali.

Ruiz will get a rematch with Joshua (now 22-1), and then someone will fight Wilder, and the mercurial Briton Tyson Fury is still to be reckoned with.

And then we have the shock upset in the U.S.’s favorite game show.

Holzhauer overwhelmed 32 sets of competitors while betting bigger than anyone in the history of the game and had banked $2.46 million before Monday night’s episode. He was in range of breaking the show’s record for overall winnings, held by Ken Jennings, and entered the game having racked up 16 of the highest one-game money totals in the 35-year history of the show. He won more than $110,000 in a single game.

Boettcher, 27, a librarian at the University of Chicago, seemed cool and collected and not obviously intimidated by the man who had thrashed so many opponents via an encyclopedic knowledge of trivia, his mastery of “ringing in” and his ultra-aggressive “bets” in “double Jeopardy!” situations.

She fell behind by a few thousand early, but she was ahead at the midway point, thanks to her quick trigger on the buzzer, regularly beating Holzhauer. She regained the lead heading into the last “question”, or “Final Jeopardy”.

The category was “Shakespeare’s time” and the “answer” was:

“The line, ‘A great reckoning in a little room’ in ‘As You Like It’ is usually taken to refer to this author’s premature death’.”

Holzhauer reached the final “question” with $23,400, but the librarian had $26,600″ in a game played at a very high level. (The three contestants correctly answered 59 of 60 questions.)

Holzhauer had the correct question: “Who was Kit Marlowe?”, but Boettcher had it correct also, and wagered big to make sure Holzhauer could not catch her, if she got it right.

She won $46,801 and goes down in Jeopardy! history as the woman who took down the man who seemed intent on wrecking the game with his crushing dominance.

This is a video link to her victory, which was shown on Monday night in the United States. But watch soon, if you are interested, because the link will be taken down on June 6 by Jeopardy! staffers.

Two unexpected developments … also two that I applaud. I was never a boxer, but I did appear on Jeopardy!, in 1988, and I feel vested in the show, and I wanted that champion gone.

A good weekend!



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