While we were waiting for the quarterfinals to start at the Australian Open yesterday morning and the doubles was on, a conversation in our office understandably turned to singles players being in far better shape than doubles specialists.
Is it because singles players do twice as much work on court? Is it because singles players are typically the poster athletes of the sport and work harder on their appearance? Perhaps both, though no one here could agree.
What was clear to everyone however, was that the Bryan Brothers now have a couple of the all-time dad bods and Marcin Matkowski looks like he could neck a schooner faster than any of us.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but remembered below are a few of the softest rigs that we’ve witnessed in professional sport.
Bob & Mike Bryan (and several other doubles players)
To be fair, the Bryan Brothers have only really sported soft rigs for a little while because after all, they are getting on in years. Frankly, any sportsmen whose trademark celebration is a big gut cheers have probably never really been working with ripped abdominals.
Bermuda weren’t expected to make an impact at the 2007 Cricket World Cup… and they didn’t, but their campaign will always be remembered for the rise of 127kg powerhouse Dwayne Leverock. “Known as Sluggo and living above a curry house in Bermuda” is how he’s described on Wikipedia and while it generally isn’t considered a credible source, I’m more than happy to take this one on face value. He’s taken the wicket of Indian opener Robin Uthappa here!
There is a case to be made for 90% of professional golfers falling into this category, but it’s pretty hard to go past John Daley in the sloppy rig stakes because he could not possibly draw more attention to his situation. Usually it’s because of his ridiculous clothes, but not always…
Every Darts Player, Ever
I mean, it goes without saying in a sport that is just as much about the pints as it is the 180s. Phil The Power Taylor is the best in history, not only at darts, but also at the buffet. Plenty more examples in this montage!
Matt Dunning circa 2007
Matt Dunning was a Wallabies mainstay from 2003 to 2009 and filled the old image of a prop forward – plenty of padding over a stocky frame. He was known for two things during his career; his figure and his brain snap that cost the Waratahs and finals spot in 2003. It is probably therefore fair to say that the moment below made him the softest backline player in history.
In a complete role (or roll) reversal of almost every other professional athlete, Dunning has worked into shape since retiring.
International players that are in the twilight of their careers often look to sign for an A-League club to take advantage of the Australian way of life. That was certainly the case for former Rangers marksman Charlie Miller, who plied his trade for the Roar and time-honoured club Gold Coast United. ‘He wasn’t as fat as everyone thought he was, but he wasn’t a Matt McKay or Massimo Murdocca.’
Every Athlete pre-1950
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me like every sportsman trotting about before the Baby Boomers was in less-than-ideal shape. Case in point, Babe Ruth. Considered one of the greatest sporting heroes in American history and probably the best Baseballer, Ruth was a big boy with a big swing!
Who could forget pleasingly plump Sutton United goalkeeper Wayne Shaw, who famously tucked into a Four’n Twenty partway through his club’s FA Cup match with Arsenal? Shaw was eventually flicked because of the stunt, but he more than made his mark.
George Rose was an absolute steal for the Sea Eagles in 2006 and he frequently caused headaches for the opposition defence, in 15 second spurts. The step he puts on against Wests Tigers in the package below is as good as you’ll see. How do you defend that?
In the interest of this list materialising because of the Australian Open, it’s only fair that it’s bookended by Tennis players.
Chris Guccione has been one of the great servants for the Australian game since the turn of the century, but it is fair to say that he is no longer the lanky rake that he once was.