Doppelganger 1: tennis player Jack Sock, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age

3-15-17 Jack Sock

 

By Leighton Ginn

This blog is done as sort of a public service announcement for people attending the BNP Paribas Open. If you are out and about and think you see American tennis star Jack Sock, don’t assume it’s him.

He has a resemblance to Queens of the Stone Age lead guitarist and singer Josh Homme, who was also grew up in nearby Palm Desert.

I had covered Sock a little more closely the last few years, and only hit me at this year’s tournament his resemblance. So I was wondering if he ever got that.

“I don’t know who that is, and I hope that’s a compliment,” Sock joked.

Jack Sock continues his good vibes at BNP Paribas Open, this time in singles

So for the tennis fans who follow this blog, here’s a little background on Josh Homme:

He was originally in the band Kyuss before starting Queens of the Stone Age in 1997.

Their third album, 2002’s “Songs for the Deaf,” featured Foo Fighters front man and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl. The album produced the hits “No One Knows” and “Go With The Flow.”

Their hit song “Little Sister,” from their fourth album, “Lullabies to Paralyze,” features a driving cow bell. It helped inspire a classic moment on Saturday Night Live in 2005 with Will Ferrell.

 

Six of their albums have been nominated for Grammys.

In 2009, Homme was part of the super band Them Crooked Vultures, that also featured John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin and Grohl. Their hit “New Fang” won a Grammy for best hard rock performance.

Homme also founded Eagles of Death Metal with high school friend Jesse Hughes. In 2015, Eagles of Death Metal were playing the Bataclan in Paris, France when terrorist came in and killed 89 people. Colin Hanks directed an HBO documentary “Eagles of Death Metal, Nos Amis (Our Friends)” that premiered in February.

The year Roger Federer is having, his preseason goals seem ridiculously low as a return to No. 1 seems possible

For more on Jack Sock, read my blog on his quarterfinal victory over Kei Nishikori at the BNP Paribas Open.

Jack Sock continues his good vibes at BNP Paribas Open, this time in singles

 

 

 

 

 

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How 1968 Olympians George Foreman and John Carlos influenced champion boxer Timothy Bradley

 

By Leighton Ginn

George Foreman said he has been impressed with the career of WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley, comparing him to legend Jersey Joe Walcott, and thought he was a boxer who came out of nowhere.

But Foreman didn’t realize that he had actually met Bradley early in his career.

In 2005, Foreman had flown out to California to do a favor for his 1968 U.S. Olympic teammate, sprinter John Carlos, who was a counselor at Palm Springs High School. During an event, Carlos had asked Foreman to take time out to talk to his friend Ray’s son, who happened to be Bradley.

When told of that event, Foreman remembered talking to Carlos’ friend who was a boxer. He just never realized it was Bradley.

“That’s who that was?” Foreman said during a telephone interview. “I didn’t realize that was Timothy Bradley at all.

“What a small world. Man alive.”

It is the friendship between Carlos and Ray Bradley that made the meeting possible for Tim Bradley and memorable for Foreman.

Back in 1968, Foreman was just a 19-year-old boxer with a lot of talent but little experience. Carlos was a world record holder in the 200 meters and one of the biggest personalities on the U.S team.  He was also a man Foreman looked up to.

Once the Olympics began, both athletes were busy preparing for their events and wouldn’t have time to catch up. They made a deal they would meet a few days after the Olympics to share their experiences.

“It was the day after the Olympics we were going to meet and go over what happened in our lives,” Foreman said.

“We didn’t get to actually sit and chat.”

John Carlos and George Foreman: Contrasting images, lasting friendship

Carlos won a bronze medal in the 200 while U.S. teammate Tommie Smith won the gold. At the awards stand, Smith and Carlos bowed their heads and raised their gloved fists during the national anthem to protest the lack of civil rights for people of color.

Afterwards, Carlos and Smith were ostracized and thrown out of the Olympic Village. Both were booked on the next flight back to America.

 

Days later, Foreman would win his gold medal as a boxing heavyweight. Immediately winning the gold medal, Foreman would pull out a small American flag that he would wave in celebration.

For many, Foreman’s celebration was interpreted as a response to Carlos and Smith’s protest. Foreman said that wasn’t the case.

Foreman said his flag waving was not a statement to contrast what Carlos and Smith had done. As a 19-year-old, Foreman had fulfilled a dream and he wanted to celebrate and show his patriotism.

“There I am, winning a gold medal, and I got to make sure everyone knew where I’m from,” Foreman said “In my ignorance, if I don’t raise this flag, they wouldn’t know where I’m from.”

Because the perception was Foreman was protesting Smith and Carlos, he encountered his own backlash. It became evident when he returned home to Houston.

“I’m a happy boy and I’m wearing my gold medal everywhere, the grocery store, everywhere. I didn’t take it off,” Foreman said. “One guy comes to me, and he was a neighbor for years and I knew him. He said, ‘How could you do what you did when the brothers were doing their thing?’ I didn’t understand what he was talking about, I really didn’t understand.

“Later on, I heard more about it and what the media was saying about it. I got a little mean about it and no one said anything about it again. I was waiting for it with a left-right. I wasn’t going to hear anything like that.”

The backlash would form Foreman’s surly and intimidating persona when he turned pro.

Foreman would ascend to the heavyweight boxing title and forged a legendary career, beating Joe Frazier for the title, losing the title to Muhammad Ali in the Rumble in the Jungle and the Rope a Dope strategy.

In his second part of his career, the kinder and gentler Foreman become the oldest heavyweight champion at 47 when he knocked out Michael Moorer in 1994.

Outside of the ring, Foreman became one of the country’s most successful businessman with his Foreman Grill.

Carlos faced his own backlash.  He regularly received death threats and was constantly followed by the FBI. In his book, “The John Carlos Story,” he said the harassment and constant surveillance put a strain on his family life that he separated from his first wife Kim.

The lowest point, according to Carlos in his book, was a moment he was so lonely from the isolation that he asked the agent who was following him if he would like to share a cup of coffee one night.

By 1989, at the urging of his kids during a detour on a road trip, Carlos had moved to Palm Springs, Calif. What was supposed to be a short stopover became his home for over 20 years. Carlos raised his kids and worked for the Palm Springs Unified School District as an in-school suspension supervisor and a coach.

It was through his job he forged a friendship with Ray Bradley, who was a security guard for the district.

“Ray was always a true grit-type of guy,” Carlos said. “What I like about Ray, he’s a man’s man. He’s a damn good father to his kids, he’s good to his woman. He has loyalty to his staff, loyalty to his job, loyal to his wife and kids and loyal to his friends. It was a rare quality at that time. It might still be a rare quality today.”

Ray Bradley said he was 5-years old when Carlos made his protest. When he saw it on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, Ray Bradley said he didn’t understand the protest because he was so young, but developed an appreciation as he got older.

“That was a very powerful statement Mr. Carlos made in Mexico City,” Ray Bradley said. “Growing up at a young age I didn’t know what was going on. I saw a lot of racial tension and we just wanted equal.”

It was during those hot, lazy days in the Palm Springs desert when Carlos would share his experience of what happened after Mexico City.

“The stories he tells me, I go, ‘I don’t know how you are still here,’” Ray Bradley said. “Everyone wanted to hurt you for making a statement like that. He told me there was death threats, getting banned from the Olympics, kicked him out and sent him home.

“Then he goes, ‘They killed my first wife.’ Oh, that’s some heavy stuff.”

Carlos’ first wife Kim had committed suicide in 1977.

 

Feared and respected

 

There is a legend of Carlos that still stands today, Ray Bradley said.

Carlos had caught two kids ditching. When Carlos found them, they made a run for it, figuring they had several years on this middle-aged teacher and a few blocks head start. The student didn’t realize he was once one of the fastest men on the planet.

“He said, ‘Mr. Carlos ran me down. I had blocks on him and he smoked me. I thought it was a ghost,’” Ray Bradley remembered from the student. “He still had speed. As a mid-aged person, he still had speed.”

The kid asked who was the old man who ran him down. Carlos told the kid that if he was in class instead of ditching, he might learn who he was.

The kid would find Carlos in a history book.

But a young Timothy Bradley knows Carlos as a family friend.

He was a friend until Bradley got in trouble one day.

Mouthing off in class, Bradley was sent to Carlos by his teacher.

Bradley said he was scared.

“John Carlos didn’t pull any punches. He told you like it was. Don’t nobody want to hear the truth,” Bradley said. “That’s the reason why I was scared, I was scared about what he had to say.”

When Bradley walked into Carlos’ classroom, he said what he feared came true.

“I walked in, ‘What are you doing in here young blood? What are you doing in here? You don’t belong in here. Sit down. Get a magazine and write me an essay,’” Bradley remembered. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what am I doing in here?’ He was loud, he didn’t care if he hurt my feelings. He was real, and it was felt.”

At first, Carlos gave a different version of the incident.

“He was a pretty reserved kid,” Carlos said in a telephone conversation from his home in Georgia. “That wasn’t his style. My thing was to cheer him up, pick him up and make him feel good about who he is.”

When Carlos was told Bradley said he was yelled at and felt intimidated, Carlos quickly replied, “I scare them all when they first come in my room because I don’t want them coming back. That’s my stamp there.”

Bradley’s father was well aware of Carlos’ reputation. So when Tim returned home and told his dad about what happened, there was no further punishment.

“He already had his punishment. John Carlos jumped down his throat,” Ray Bradley said. “I didn’t have to do anything but give him that eye. ‘Do something again, I’m going to put something on you. I might have to go to jail, so don’t do it again.’”

Tim Bradley said he didn’t get in trouble again.

Carlos said he would see Ray in the weight room, and was mesmerized by how hard he worked. It was as if he was bonding with the weights.

“I think he transferred that work ethic to his son when he was a baby and embedded this in them. Never say quit, never say die,” Carlos said. “It was a commitment all around. You truly had to be committed. When you see the momma and daddy get up early with their boy at 5 a.m. and have him training, they must have had a goal in mind. They had a program to reach that goal.”

And through the years, Carlos said he would see that same kind of commitment from Bradley.

“His work ethic is the same today as it was as a kid, because he would get up and run all over the desert. I used to see him out there on the road and I’d just be smiling,” Carlos said. “When I would see him now, I would picture a little boy running in the morning. He never went away from the foundation his parents gave him.

“You could see his determination when he fights people. He fights guys taller than him, heavier then him and he goes through them like they’re a piece of cardboard.”

For more on John Carlos, go to his website

So when Carlos was contacted by Foreman in 2005, it was the first time they had spoken since the 1968 Olympics. In Carlos’ mind, he wanted Foreman to meet Tim.

Palm Springs High School was planning an event for Black History Month. Carlos asked Foreman if he could show up. Because it was a last-minute request, Foreman chartered a private jet to make sure he could fulfill the request.

“He said, he’s coming, He’s coming, so bring your son. I want him to meet him because he’s a great man, a great person. Whatever he can tell him, he could use it. Your son will be big one day. He needs to hear from Big George,” Ray Bradley said.

When Foreman arrived, he was busy meeting people all day before his speech. But Carlos made sure the Bradleys were backstage, so when Foreman was through talking, they could meet.

“Meeting him, it’s how a champion should be. He was very charismatic,” Tim Bradley said. “It was an honor to actually meet him, especially early in my career. It gave me someone to look up to, someone to be like. It showed me how a top former fighter from a different generation or era was and how he carried himself.”

While the day was a whirlwind for Foreman, he said meeting the Bradleys stuck out because Carlos made them a priority. And then what Foreman saw also stuck with him, and that was Tim with Ray and his mom Kathleen.

“You meet a lot of boxers, and they come up with their trainer or manager or promoter. Very rarely do they come with their family,” Foreman said. “It makes them different, that they have people who love and care for him.

“That’s what I remember, he had people who loved and cared for him. That’s why I poured out the information.”

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a story that ran in April.

 

The woman who convinced Teddy Atlas to return to training finally meets Timothy Bradley in person

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One person who was crucial in getting Teddy Atlas to return to boxing to train WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley had never met the Desert Storm until this week.

When Bradley approached Atlas, he initially said he wasn’t interested in training again. That was until Atlas spoke to his daughter Nicole, who has a knack for convincing people as a successful lawyer.

“My daughter told me, ‘As great a broadcaster as you are, you’re a teacher. That’s your calling, that’s your essence,” Atlas said, recalling how his daughter convinced him to get back into boxing. “It would be a shame not to allow yourself to teach anymore.”

In convincing her father to return, Nicole had never met Bradley or his team in person until she arrived in Las Vegas with her mother and brother. Bradley will defend his WBO belt against the rough and rugged Brandon Rios on Saturday, Nov. 7 at the Thomas & Mack. HBO will telecast the fight card starting at 6:30 p.m., PST.

Throughout the seven-week training camp, Atlas has constantly been keeping Nicole and the family posted. And Nicole said the affect has been positive on her dad.

“We talk to him every day and he’s on a good schedule, he gets up, he’s at the gym, and he’s been getting in shape with Tim,” Nicole said. “He’s been taking off the weight like Tim has, he goes to the gym. He updates us on how sparring’s gone, how he’s doing. It’s all been positive. He’s enjoying it.”

Atlas was co-hosting his radio show on Sirius XM when he had Bradley as a guest.  It was days after Bradley had regained the vacant WBO welterweight title after beating Jessie Vargas.

Despite dominating the fight, Bradley was caught with a big right in the final minute that left him wobbly.

Bradley was a phone-in guest for “Going the Distance,” which Atlas hosts with Wally Matthews and Nabate Isles.

Atlas asked Bradley “why did you get hit,” with a follow up, “do you know why you got hit.”

Bradley didn’t have an answer for why he got hit, so Atlas began to break it down. His co-hosts just went silent and listened to the interaction.

“I couldn’t help myself. It just happened in the middle of the interview,” Atlas said. “The teaching part came out and being a teacher is helping someone who needs help.”

“I forgot I was on the radio. I became a teacher,” Atlas said. “My daughter was right.”

But Atlas didn’t think it was anything more than an interview. His co-host had different thoughts.

“We went to a commercial (after the interview) and Wally said, ‘He’s going to call you to train him,’” Atlas said. “I said, ‘No he’s not, because I’m not training anyone.’ I wasn’t thinking in those terms. He said, ‘you mark my words, he’s going to call you to train him.’”

It wasn’t long after when Bradley did call Atlas, but he wasn’t interested initially. During that time, Bradley decided to part ways with Joel Diaz, who had trained him his entire professional career.

But it was talking to Nicole that changed his mind. Another thing that convinced Atlas to return to training was getting to know Bradley. Atlas liked Bradley’s character and was comfortable with his family.

Nicole said she’s even noticed a change.

“It’s different when he’s doing the commentating, he’s just preparing to call the fight. With this, he’s putting more of his heart into it,” Nicole said. “There’s always worry because he wants to make sure he’s doing everything right. And there’s also the confidence he’s done everything right. Now we’re here for the fight and everything he needed to do is done.”

During the weigh in, Nicole was with her mother Elaine and brother Teddy III were sitting in the back row and passing out “Desert Storm” black t-shirts to their other family and friends who joined them from the East Coast.

“It’s exciting. Definitely, we’re excited, but at the same time, nervous,” Nicole said. “It’s been a few years since we’ve had to worry and care who wins the fight. Normally, we watch all the fights. It doesn’t matter who wins or lose. We just watch it for the entertainment. It’s exciting.

Timothy Bradley said going back to Thomas and Mack to face Brandon Rios brings back good vibrations

Timothy Bradley works with trainer Teddy Atlas during his media workout on Oct. 28 in preparation for his fight against Brandon Rios. Bradley will face Rios on Nov. 7 at the Thomas and Mack arena in Las Vegas.

Timothy Bradley works with trainer Teddy Atlas during his media workout on Oct. 28 in preparation for his fight against Brandon Rios. Bradley will face Rios on Nov. 7 at the Thomas and Mack arena in Las Vegas.

A day earlier, Brandon Rios said he was expecting to see the same Timothy Bradley that dominated future Hall of Fame boxer Juan Manuel Marquez two years earlier.

On Oct. 28, Bradley said he’s expecting Rios to be at his best as well, feeling he will see the same level Rios demonstrated his first fight against Mike Alvarado in a battle that was voted the Fight of the Year in 2012.

There is good reason to expect Bradley to be at his best. When Bradley beat Marquez, it was at the Thomas and Mack Arena in Las Vegas. Bradley will face Rios on Nov. 7 in his return trip to the basketball arena on the UNLV campus.

While Bradley said he’s had better performances, he knows the Marquez fight will be

“I beat a Hall of Fame fighter, so it makes me world-class,” Bradley said. “I beat a household name.

“That probably was the defining fight (of my career).”

However, Bradley returns to Thomas and Mack with two distinct differences. Since his 2013 victory over Marquez, Bradley has since replaced manager Cameron Dunkin, and most recently, trainer Joel Diaz.

Bradley’s wife Monica took over manager duties right after the Marquez fight. Diaz, who had trained Bradley since he turned pro in 2004, has been replaced by renown and respected trainer Teddy Atlas.

“In general, sometimes we get … content doing the same thing over and over. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Bradley said. “As I saw my career going forward, I saw it going south, getting hit with big shots, not doing the right things in the ring.

“It just wasn’t all there. I felt a chance was necessary if I want to continue my career, and get away from the game with my senses. I went with something different, a different look and a different eye.”

While some things have changed, Bradley said fighting inside Thomas and Mack will be comforting.

“I like that arena, it’s nice and compact, there’s not a bad seat in the house,” Bradley said. “It was one of my best performances I ever had in Vegas. I’m looking forward to it.