Global Training Report
Fighting Edge of the World
gChance and Necessity of Beast Phenomenonh
From Sports Graphic Number 569
Feb. 20, 2003
@Text by Shannon O
Translated by Yoko Kondo
important is not a length of a career but its density. Ifve already
had success in just one year, that ordinarily takes most athletes 20 or
30 years to accomplish."
Bob: Ifm going to see
sumo wrestling later today. I'm very excited.
Q: Is it your first
time to watch sumo?
Bob: Yes, but I wonder
if I'll be able to see it. Wherever I go, Ifm mobbed by autograph
hunters. I like it, but sometimes the situation gets crazy. I
might not have time to watch the sumo.
As he expected, when
Sapp showed up in the Kokugikan, it was thrown into an uproar. Due to
the spectators who tried to take a look at him, it got into a panic one
moment, and the guards managed to get it under control. As for sumo
wrestlers, they showed a bitter smile saying that everybody lost his/her
head over Sapp, and nobody looked at sumo fights for a while.
Sapp sensation, which
broke out last autumn, is increasing in its force. As of the end of
January, he has seven contracts of CM [commercials]. He appears in many
TV programs like a TV jack such as variety shows, dramas, and wideshows
[a type of general talk oriented show], and draws viewers' attention by
his actorfs spirit beyond professionals. Moreover, his versatile
talents are shown in his work as a commentator of boxing world
championships or Superball too. His CD debut has been decided. And his
character goods, figure, and T-shirts seem to be as popular as they get
short of stock. Sapp shows up in media without missing a single day.
His favorite Japanese
word is gdaijoubuh [ = ok, no problem]. A word he doesn't like is gcanft
doh. He smiled and said that no matter
how positive he is, he couldnft imagine such a big success in Japan.
It is already
well-known, but Sapp used to be in NFL.. He entered Chicago Bears at the
third round of the draft as a super star of the world of College
American Football. But he was far from success as a professional, and
changed teams one after another. After that he finished his three and half-year career due to the
injury of his Achilles tendon.
Q: Even though your
real ability was so good that you were selected to the all star team of
All American Universities, your role in NFL was a substitute player. And
you retired from it without many chances of playing. Is it so
difficult to do an active play in NFL?
Bob: Well, I was young
for one reason. But in my case, the main reason is a big gap between my
ideal and what the team expected me to do (laugh). Football is a game of
technicians, so each player has his own role and performs it faithfully.
As for me, I wanted to play offence guard (OG) by making use of my
physical build. But I was speedy considering my physical build, so all
the teams asked for me to keep the position of left tackle (LT). Both
are the same in terms of the role which stops an opponent by tackle, but
one big difference is that OG tackles, throws him away, and immediately
gets covered over him to stop his movements completely. LT, on the other
hand, blocks the man, and keeps on running. I am hot-blooded, so I
couldnft be satisfied unless I put an opponent under my control
completely. (laugh) Because of that nature, I disturbed the team play in
a manner that I, as LT, thought was in a way of a player with a ball.
Looking back on those day now, I should have pressed myself at the
scenes where I should, and should have thrown an opponent down only when
it was necessary. I was too aggressive.h
Q: After retiring from
the NFL which is placed on the top of the sport world, you aimed at
fighting in kakuto-world as your next career. It is understandable if
you are from wrestling. But from American way of thinking, it is
considered gMiyakoochih (retire into the country), isnft it? Did
you like kakutogi from a long time ago?
Bob: I am big,
and more than anything else I have an image of a wild beast which is
suitable to a villain part, donft I? I wanted to have a chance to make
use of it effectively. That is probably the main reason. No, to tell the
truth, I had no idea to go to pro wrestling after retiring from American
Football. But in the second or third year of NFL, Jessy gthe bodyh
Ventura (who used to be an active pro wrestler in WWF and others) said
to me, ghyour arm is thickest in NFL. You are big and have an
impact. I guess you can make more money in pro wrestling.h In fact, I
was told the same thing in any team I played. Especially, I was told at
the last year of my play, ghit must be more suitable for you to play
a villain part in Hollywood or to play a role of a heel in pro wrestling
than to stay in the team as a substitute player. You have a potential,
so you could become a regular member in NFL someday. But taking
accumulation of damage on you body into consideration, itfs not worth
doing it, isnft it? Why donft you think about it?h So I decided to
try pro wrestling when I got injured.
Q: 2 meters in
height and weigh 170kg [374 lbs.]. Your body is an enormous lump of
muscle. The big body was surely built up by American Football, but have
you changed the way you train for kakutogi?
Bob: Of course. There
is a big difference in training between NFL which requires technical
performance and kakutogi which requires a total balance. Now Ifm
focusing on building up the muscle with a good balance along with having
power, not on training mainly strength and explosive power [shunpatsuryoku].
So adding to the basic training such as squat,
push ups, and abs, power lifting
for upper and lower body was included too. Thanks to the training, I
have transformed myself into a physical build like a basketball player.
(laugh) Speaking of a big body, there is a wrestler named Shin the Giant
who is 20 or 30cm taller than me. His weight is the same as mine, in
fact. I was very surprised to hear that too (laugh).h
After retiring from
NFL, he entered WCW. But WCW went bust before he started his career as a
pro wrestler. He had an offer from WWE which produced gThe Rockh or
gTriple Hh, but the payment was only $750/week with no insurance,
and the compensation for an absence from the ring due to a serious
injury was $250. Sapp hesitated to accept it.
But his spot fight [??]
in WCW caught the eye of then K-1 boss Master Ishii, and the
situation around Sapp suddenly change completely. As everybody knows, he
has been very active since then.
Q: You have been
fighting in two worlds; K-1 and Pride as a real fight, and pro
wrestling. These two are completely different in terms of a way of
fighting, preparation for a physical condition before a fight, and
mentality, but donft you have any difficulty with having a balance or
distinguishing between them in yourself?
distinguishing between them, the fans might be more confused with it
than I am. (laugh) In fact, when I came to Japan for the first time, I
aimed at the ring of pro wrestling under the name of a bodyguard of Mr.
Ishii. But none of groups showed any interest in me (laugh). After
all, I stepped into the world of a real fight in search of a place for
my activity, and as a result it led me to a big success. However, it has
brought about confusion. Originally when I got into kakutogi, I had
studied and trained with the aim of pro wrestling, so whether I like it
or not, pro wrestling-like movements come out even in a real fight. A
rough fight on the ring in a fight with Nakasako (June) or a power bomb
in a fight with Nogueira (August) is a typical case. Even now it is said
that it must have been premeditated, but in fact it was nothing
deliberated or planned at all. Regarding the rough fight, I just lost my
temper against my will. As for the power bomb, it happened because I was
an amateur without having many techniques desperately thinking about a
way to survive. If I improve myself a little more, I think I can show a
different type of fight in two worlds [pro wrestling and real fights] to
some extent. But I donft think I can get rid of my pro wrestling side
Q: Donft you think
that taking two different ways, pro wrestling and real fights, at the
same time results in shortening your career as a kakuto fighter because
of an increase in risk in various respects?
Bob: It will bring
about some risk for sure. Actually, if I do something great, I have to
do something greater than that next time to satisfy the fans. For
example, I took a hard blow on my liver one time before [from Ernesto
Hoost], and I stood up immediately after falling down. Due to that,
everybody expects me to stand up no matter how much I get beat up now.
(laugh). As more fights I do, the higher the risk I take. Namely, I
would strangle my own neck with my hands to satisfy the fans. But I
experienced a short career in the NFL and WCW in the past, and even if I
chose either one of them, there is no guarantee that I could have a long
career. When I got in NFL, my life in NFL as a player was estimated 10
years at the minimum. In fact, I was aiming at it. (laugh) What is
important is not a length of career, but its density. Fortunately,
Ifve already got a success only in one year, which takes one 20 or 30
years in general. Besides, in terms of money, my success is more than
what Ernesto Hoost could get by becoming a K-1 champion four times in
the past 10 years. Thanks to the success, I can focus on how to meet the
needs of the fans without worrying about the future so much now.
martial arts or pro wrestling, a main event is already reserved for him
in kakutogi entertainment in Japan. His high popularity in Japan is
spreading to America, his home country, too. On the other hand, his
reputation in kakuto media centering on web site is not high enough yet.
Q: Reading a kakuto
forum on web site sent from America, there are more negative opinions
about you than expected like, gSapp has fought with only lower rank of
fighters. No appreciation.h
Bob: Thatfs right.
That is a very interesting phenomenon. A non-official fan sites for Bob
Sapp have been uploading in each country including England and Japan,
but most of them are made outside America. Kakuto-related site in
America started to report gSapp phenomenonh in Japan from last
month, so people start to recognize me a little by little even in my
country. But still there are opinions saying, gSapp has fought with
only a lower rank of fighters. Or he has no technique at all.h Every
time I read these comments, I burst out laughing. What is funny is that
those amateur fake kakuto specialists forget about that I am a new
fighter who experienced only eight fights and an amateur who is in the
middle of learning kakutogi, they argue about me as if I were a veteran
fighter. All the opponents I fought are professional fighters with more
experience than me and good results. None of them is weak. Actually
itfs rude to them. But those opinions are the proof that Sapp
phenomenon is spreading to all over the world.
Q: I think you must be
very happy to be in the center of gBeast phenomenonh now, but
donft you feel the way that you are getting consumed?
Bob: Surely, various
things are mixed up, so I feel tired a little bit. But if I didnft
like it, I wouldnft do it. Most of fighters tend to feel the way that
they deserve a lot of attention and money, because they are the
strongest [they think]. But I donft have that feeling at all, and
canft even understand it. I am an entertainer, whose pay is determined
according to how much I could make the spectator happy. Even if it
becomes a direct cause to shorten my career, I am satisfied. Ifm
really happy to see everybody enjoying.
Q: What is a source of
your vitality, so to speak, a source of power which motivates Bob Sapp?
Bob: May be I just
canft stand still. (laugh) I am extra hyper by nature, and make a move
before thinking. All the staffs and trainers around me would agree with
that.. Sometimes they seem to be fed up with ga three year old kid in
a giant bodyh. But what motivates gthe Beasth now are the
fans. Everybody brings me new ideas like, gwhy donft you try this
one next time?h In response to it, I try to do it as much as possible
using my imagination. Itfs also my pleasure to imaging them surprised
to see it, or their happy faces. And also criticism raises my
The fact that criticism
or made-up stories appear at this phase means that I am paid a lot of
attention, doesnft it? As long as I keep my faith, any ridiculous
criticism turns out to become an advantageous datum which spurs the
Q: Is there any
kakuto fighter or wrestler whom you aim at?
Bob: My aim might
be too high, but I want to be a person who makes a success in life like
gThe Rockh and is respected by people like Andre the Giant. Anyhow,
I will aim at being a fighter who remains in memory of people.
The interview has
finished. But I asked one more question to Sapp who started a
preparation to move to the next place for interview.
Q: How do you see
yourself five years later in your eyes?
Sapp stopped and stared
into the distance. gFive years latercc Nothing comes to my mind at
all. If possible, I wish I could be involved in the entertainment world,
K-1, pro wrestling, CM, movies, or whatevercc But honestly speaking,
I am not sure if I could fight in the ring. I wonder if I could
physically keep in a good condition for five more yearsc. Anyway, I
focus on living gthis present timeh now. OK, work, work! Hahahaha!h
He headed for the next work laughing loudly.
to Kakutogi Fans around the World except Japan exclusively by Global
Yoko Kondo. All rights reserved.
pic added August 5, 2016.