The fat athlete, or the fathlete, is a walking paradox. Why do they exist? How do they function at such a high level athletically while functioning at such a low level metabolically? And are they on some level even more impressive than those shmoes who hit the gym every day in hopes of maintaining a flawless physique? In the end, these questions seem unanswerable, which only adds to the mystique of these doughy dominators. So rather than try to unwrap this delightful riddle, let’s just applaud it, and lay out the top five fat athletes in all of sports history.
5 Sebastian Janikowski – Football
Sure he’s been arrested for a handful of DUI’s and a bit of assault and battery, but let’s focus on what’s really important to this list, he’s been an extremely successful athlete, and he’s a real fatty. A Polish-born player, Janikowksi has been the offensive staple of the Oakland Raiders since they drafted him back in 2000. Nicknamed the “Salty Pierogi” (by me, just now), Janikowski is the Raiders all-time leading scorer, holds the NFL record for longest field goal made (63), and also owns the world record for most times being mistaken for a giant, husky baby.
4 Tony Gwynn – Baseball
Picture what it would look like if an unstoppable hitting machine was stuffed into the body of an unassuming middle school vice principal and there you have him… Tony Gwynn. Nicknamed “Mr. Padre,” Gwynn is San Diego’s all-time leader in nearly every major hitting category, he also won eight career batting titles and is the unofficial owner of the record for most times his own gut un-tucked his shirt while running the bases. Tony was the ultimate anomaly, possessing the precise bat skills of an Ichiro Suzuki, while maintaining the generous bodily dimensions of a Carl Winslow.
3 Shaquille O’Neal – Basketball
“You cannot stop him, you can only hope to contain him.” These words perfectly describe Shaquille O’Neal on the court, but let’s not pretend they don’t also describe Shaq on Thanksgiving. Because Shaq Diesel was so skilled, fast, and athletic for a man of his tremendous size, his girth often flew under the radar, but allow us to put it in perspective: Shaquille O’Neal was the same height as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but weighed 100 pounds more. This isn’t to say a lot of this weight wasn’t muscle, but let’s just say Shaq was respected for his workout ethic about as much as he was for his foul-shooting prowess.
2 John Daly – Golf
Where have you gone, fat John Daly? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you… Woo woo woo. Long considered the preeminent fat guy of his generation, John Daly has taken it upon himself to limit his alcohol intake and slim down over the past few years, a decision which we heartily boo. Fat John Daly was a legend. He’d show up at the tee stinking of Fritos and Schlitz, still half in the bag from the night before, he’d hit the ball a country mile, then lumber on down the fairway on his way to a finish that would garner him just enough prize money to keep the party-train chugging. He was once truly fat-tastic, now he’s just a skinny old guy with weird pants and a lot of extra skin.
1 Babe Ruth – Baseball
There is no question here. Not only is Babe Ruth by far the greatest fat athlete of all-time, he may just be the greatest fat guy to ever live. A man that has long since become a legend, Ruth played in a beautiful time gone by when an athlete could be looked at as more of a God than a man, despite having the physique of a hot pile of ham in a hat. The Babe truly was the lumpy embodiment of the American dream: Do what you want, eat what you want, and hit home runs. So worry not parents, if your kid is a little wide in the waist and happens to have an above average fondness for cigars, beer and any meat that can be stuffed into a casing, he may just be the next Babe Ruth.