Given Bob Sapp's recently announced retirement, I figured it was a good time to share something I wrote a long time ago about his career and life. I originally posted this to my tumblr in April of 2012, and it is only current up to then. Still, I think it's a fun read. Enjoy.
Mixed martial arts is a sport that lends itself to a great many jokes, and the punchline to roughly half of those jokes is Bob Sapp. However, much of this ridicule is in poor taste, as it does not take into account the countless obstacles that Bob has overcome or the hardships that he has endured on the road to success. Though his various athletic endeavors have seemingly ended in failure, the fact of the matter is that Bob Sapp is an unqualified success and an inspiration. What follows is an accounting of several key moments from Bob’s childhood, his career, and his day to day life, all of which help to shed light on his remarkable journey.
September 22, 1976 - Third Birthday Party
Bob’s third birthday party was the first time his family realized that they were dealing with an incredibly special child, but it was also the first time Bob faced true adversity. At 6’4" and 240 pounds, three year old Bobby Sapp was a handful, but a joyous handful who loved to laugh and joke around. But when he lost his temper, he was nearly impossible to control, and he occasionally even bit the heads off of his sister’s dolls as an act of defiance. At the birthday party, Bob was brought his cake and tasked with blowing out the candles. He inhaled one great, deep breath and blew the air out with all his might. The candles extinguished in the blink of an eye, but Bob fell to the ground like a stack of old newspapers, having herniated a disk in his back. What followed was a series of back surgeries, and Bob was unable to blow out candles again until his sixth birthday party three full years later.
May 12, 1986 - Sixth Grade Social
Bob Sapp was a gregarious middle school student who wanted to be friends with everyone, but found that most were frightened by his enormous frame and deep, borderline terrifying laugh. When the school social came about, Bob bounded eagerly into the gymnasium, ready to dance and share in the company of his peers. From the outset, the other kids seemed determined to give him room to move, as he had a reputation for accidentally destroying furniture in the immediate area. Determined to win the others over, Sapp launched into a brief song and dance number (years later, a refined version of this same performance would become known as "Bob Sapp Time"). The crowd seemed amused and Bob was encouraged. So encouraged, in fact, that he decided to ask Kelly, his longstanding crush, to dance with him. Kelly refused, citing athletic commission regulations, and Bob melted, almost literally, to the floor. He collapsed in such a way that it appeared as though he was a boneless mass of flesh reduced to a puddle on the gymnasium floor. Swiftly and without warning, Bob began tapping the floor repeatedly and wailing as though he was in genuine physical distress. Although Bob’s record stands at 11 and 11 as of this writing, he has suffered a number of other losses, and this was his first, by submission (heartbreak) at 7:45 of the Sixth Grade Social.
January 14, 1991 - First (And Last) Drug Experience
During his senior year of high school, Bob was offered mushrooms by his lone friend, Jim. Bob was apprehensive, but knew that he could not risk alienating the one friend he had, so he took some. Bob then had an existential crisis, wherein he debated becoming a fighter (something he promised his great great grandfather in a dream), or becoming a pop star and making his waking dream of "Bob Sapp Time" a reality. As a result of the mushrooms, these demons manifested visually, and Bob dealt with them the only two ways he knew how: By fighting and performing "Bob Sapp Time." After beating back these hallucinations, Bob collapsed on his sofa and slept for 34 hours uninterrupted. Upon waking, Bob was horrified to find that he had either fought or danced Jim to death. This was yet another hardship that Sapp had to bear, as he resolved never to tell anyone about this horrible incident and managed to successfully cover up the death through a clever bit of misdirection involving several mirrors.
April 28, 2002 - MMA Debut
After washing out of professional football and a brief stint as a professional wrestler, Bob began to train seriously as a mixed martial artist. Bob’s MMA debut was one of the inspirational bright spots of his career; fighting through the adversity that he had faced, he managed to KO his opponent, Yoshihisa Yamamoto with a flurry of punches about halfway through the first round. It is important to remember these bright spots when considering the rough patches of Bob’s career.
March 30, 2003 - Mirko Cro Cop vs. Bob Sapp
August 13, 2003 - Sapp vs. Tyson
October 31, 2005 - Trick Or Treat Or Tumble
To celebrate Halloween in 2005, Bob decided to traverse the streets of Tokyo dressed as the Great Pumpkin, asking passersby for candy by bellowing "TRICK OR TREAT" at them. The response was underwhelming in the sense that he received zero candy, and overwhelming in the sense that several people ran away screaming. In a moment of youthful exuberance, Bob charged towards a couple in an attempt to acquire candy, but lost his footing as he stepped off a curb and fell to the ground. He was then run over by three separate men on bicycles.
March 11, 2012 - The Double Leg
In March of this year, Bob Sapp was set to fight James Thompson on the first show for the Indian upstart MMA promotion Super Fight League. The fight began as many of Sapp’s other fights have, with his opponent using grappling to gain control. However, Bob managed to wriggle himself free and assumed top position (well, sort of, in truth he just kneel nearby and flung hammerfists at Thompson) and looked to be assuming some sort of advantage. Thompson then shot for a double leg to get Sapp back into a defensive posture, but upon completion of the double leg, Bob began tapping feverishly, having been injured by the takedown. The whole fight is embedded below, and it is an emotional roller coaster.
Soon, Bob will be fighting Mariusz Pudzianowski in KSW, a bout which may sap what remaining spirit he has. If this is indeed his last hurrah, I hope that Bob Sapp will be rightly remembered as the inspirational figure who overcame adversity on his way to success, fame, and fortune. I, for one, will be rooting for him.