Categotry Archives: Sports

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Camille Muffat

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Categories: Sports

Olympic gold medalist Camille Muffat was killed on March 9 in a helicopter crash while filming a reality TV show in Argentina. She was 25.

The versatile French swimmer first hit the pool when she was just 7 years old. By the time she was 12, Muffat was training under Fabrice Pellerin, head coach of Olympic Nice Natation, a top training facility for champion swimmers.

Although she became accomplished at the breaststroke, Muffat’s speciality was the front crawl, which she used to win a gold medal in the women’s 400 freestyle — and set a new Olympic record in the process — at the 2012 London Olympics. Muffat also took home the silver medal in the women’s 200 meter freestyle, and a bronze medal as a member of the women’s 4×200 freestyle relay.

Muffat was the former world record holder in the 400 and 800 SCM freestyle, Swim Swam reported. In 2012, she was named the French Sportswoman of the Year.

Muffat retired from the sport in 2014, citing “personal reasons.”

When asked about life outside of the pool, Muffat told Le Monde that she enjoyed playing with her Persian cat Lulu and English bulldog Brioche, going shopping, doing puzzles and spending time with her friends and family.

At the time of her death, Muffat was a cast member on the French reality TV show “Dropped,” in which two teams of celebrities are left in separate remote locations and challenged to be the first to return to civilization.

During filming on Monday, Muffat was killed when the helicopter she was on collided in mid-air with another in La Rioja province, BBC reported. Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine, a bronze medal winner for France at the 2008 Games in Beijing, champion sailor Florence Arthaud, who won the Route du Rhum in 1990, five members of the show’s production staff and two Argentine pilots also perished in the crash.

–Originally published in The Huffington Post.

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Andy Irons

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airons.jpgFormer world champion surfer Philip Andrew Irons was hooked on the sport from his very first wave. In an interview with ISurfBecause, he described riding that wave as one of the purest moments of his life.
“I went left, right, left and the wave never broke. And I thought right then, ‘This is the coolest thing in the world,'” he said.
Born in Hawaii, Irons was raised by his mother, a shop clerk, and his father, a carpenter, in Kauai. He and his brother Bruce learned how to surf as children on the dangerous reefs of the North Shore. He joined surfing’s Top 44 on the 1998 World Tour when he was only 17 years old.
Irons struggled with anger issues, loneliness, substance abuse and a frustration with the promotional aspects of his career, but his inner demons were silenced when he was riding the waves. In the water, Irons’ talent and drive helped him to win three Quiksilver Pro France titles, two Rip Curl Pro Search titles and 20 elite tour victories including the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing four times from 2002 to 2006. He was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame in 2008.
His competitive nature also got him into trouble. Public, mid-competition fights with his brother were not uncommon, and his rivalry with champion surfer Kelly Slater made headlines for years. Slater had six world titles under his belt when Irons defeated him in 2002. Irons won again in 2003 and 2004, which earned him a reputation as a king-slayer. Slater emerged from semi-retirement, and reclaimed the title in 2005. The clash of titans came to a head the following year at the Pipeline Masters final when the pair battled the waves, and each other. After 35 grueling minutes, Irons earned a perfect 10 and won the competition.
Irons left the tour in 2009 to “get back to surfing for fun.” A year later he returned to the competitive arena to stage a comeback. Irons was supposed to compete in the 2010 Rip Curl Pro Search in Puerto Rico, but withdrew from the event for health reasons.
Irons’ body was found in a Dallas-area hotel room on Nov. 2. Cause of death is under investigation, though police said there were no signs of trauma or foul play. He was 32. At the time of his death, Irons’ wife, Lyndie, was expecting their first child.
[Update – Dec. 16, 2010: Andrew Axel Irons was born to Lyndie Irons, widow of Andy Irons, on Dec. 16.]
[Update – June 11, 2011: Autopsy results showed that Andy Irons died from a sudden heart attack due to severe hardening of the arteries. A secondary cause of death was listed as “acute mixed drug ingestion. Toxicology tests found found methadone, Xanax, benzoylecgonine and a “trace amount of methamphetamine” in his system.]

–Photo by Jose Goulao. Used with permission

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Lillian Ellison

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Categories: Actors, Sports, Writers/Editors

lellison.jpgMary Lillian Ellison, the first woman inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame, died on Nov. 2 from complications of shoulder-replacement surgery. She was 84.

Born in the tiny community of Tookiedoo, S.C., Ellison was the youngest of 13 children and the only girl in the family. After her mother died when she was 10 years old, Ellison and her father began spending Tuesday evenings attending local professional wrestling matches. These nights away from her 12 brothers gave Ellison the opportunity to develop a relationship with her father; they also inspired her to conquer the male-dominated world of professional wrestling.

Ellison was just a teenager when she began working as a valet, a job that involved serving as both helper and eye candy to the male wrestlers. She worked her way up through the ranks, from wrestling promoter to trainer to manager, always demanding top dollar for her boys, most notably “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers.

In the late 1940s, Ellison decided to enter the ring herself. After training with Mildred Burke, a champion female wrestler, Ellison took to the squared circle. She adopted the name “The Fabulous Moolah” because the moniker perfectly described why she became a wrestler. “I want to wrestle for the moolah!” she’d often declare. When Burke retired in 1956, Ellison defeated Judy Grable in a tournament and won the “women’s world title.” She would retain her championship status for 28 years.

Although female wrestling used to be illegal in many states, Ellison was a star on the circuit. In the ring, the 5-foot-4-inch, 118 lb. wrestler had a huge personality and a vast repertoire of kicks and holds. Her signature move was called a “backbreaker,” but she would also do scissor kicks, monkey flips and clotheslines to keep her opponents from getting the upper hand. On her own, or alongside her partner in crime Mae Young, Ellison’s antics earned her the love — and enmity — of wrestling fans.

“Used to be, the crowd would always cheer for whoever I was going against. That was okay; I loved for the fans to hate me. It made me put on a better show. I’ll show you, I’d say to myself when I’d hear them call me ‘Bitch!’ or ‘SOB!’ — two fo my favorite, uh, nicknames,” she wrote in her 2002 autobiography, “The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle,” written with Larry Platt. The memoir also provided candid insights about the times she spent hanging out with celebrities such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.

Ellison became a mother at 14. She married and divorced five times, and once turned down a proposal from long-time boyfriend and country music singer Hank Williams. She never officially retired from the fighting circuit, despite suffering numerous broken bones over the years, and even wrestled a match on her 80th birthday. In 1995, she became the first woman to be inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame. Her career was later profiled in the 2004 documentary, “Lipstick & Dynamite, Piss & Vinegar: The First Ladies of Wrestling.”

When she wasn’t performing or appearing at special events, Ellison was busy training generations of wrestlers at her school on Moolah Drive in Columbia, S.C. One of her most notable students was Katie “Diamond Lil” Glass, a professional midget wrestler who became Ellison’s adopted daughter. Ellison also had six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Listen to a Tribute From NPR

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Jan Romary

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Categories: Sports

jromary.jpgJanice-Lee York Romary, a champion foil fencer who competed in six Olympic Games, died on May 31 from complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. She was 79.
Born in Palo Alto, Calif., Romary developed a passion for the sport of fencing, the European martial art of swordplay, as a young girl. She trained with Ralph Faulkner, a fencing master who taught Errol Flynn, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Basil Rathbone and many others how to wield a sword for the silver screen, and participated in the women’s fencing club at the University of Southern California. In 2004, photographs of Romary were featured in the “Women of Troy” exhibition, which celebrated the achievements of female USC athletes.
The sport of fencing requires athletes to be both smart and swift. Performed on a strip that’s 6-feet wide by 44-feet long, participants earn points by landing a valid hit or touch. Fencers win a bout by scoring 15 points in direct elimination play, or 5 points in preliminary pool play. At the Olympics, there are no preliminary rounds; initial seeding is determined by world rankings.
Romary won 10 national championships over the course of 18 years, and only missed the 1959 championship tournament because she was pregnant. After giving birth, she returned to competition and won a gold medal at the 1967 Pan American Games. Her total of 10 foil championships is the most of any man or woman in America.
From 1948 until 1968, Romary competed in the women’s individual foil event at six consecutive Olympics, finishing fourth in 1952 and 1956. She carried the U.S. flag at her final Olympics, the Mexico City Games, and was the only fencer to ever win the Helms Foundation Athlete of the Month Award.
While her fencing skills were widely praised, Romary preferred to promote her longevity in the sport. “Fencing is like a physical chess game,” she once said. “You must think ahead to third and fourth intentions. As you get older, your physical ability may diminish, but you mature mentally. You compensate by out-thinking your opponent.”
After retiring from competition, Romary served as the women’s administrator for the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, where she was responsible for all U.S. women competitors, and as the commissioner of fencing for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. In the late 1970s, she was inducted into the United States Fencing Association Hall of Fame.
Romary’s husband, Charles, was an oceanographic engineer and fencer. Together, they ran Clean Water Systems, a water purification business in Klamath Falls, Ore.

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Diego Corrales

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Categories: Sports

dcorrales.jpgDiego “Chico” Corrales, a world champion boxer, died on May 7 in a motorcycle crash. He was 29.
Born in Columbia, S.C., and raised in Sacramento, Calif., Corrales was only 3 years old when he began visiting a boxing gym with his stepfather, Ray Woods. He earned a chef’s degree at a culinary trade school; however, boxing was his true calling.
Corrales stood 5 feet 10 1/2 inches tall, and fought most of his career at 130 pounds. He turned pro in 1996 and had a professional record of 40-5-0, with 33 wins coming by way of knockout. Corrales’ style was simple: punch big, hard and fast. A fan favorite, he was utterly fearless in the ring, and willing to fight all comers.
Corrales won the IBF super featherweight title in the 7th round by knocking out Roberto Garcia in 1999. He held onto the world title until Floyd Mayweather Jr. handed him his first defeat. In their 2001 match-up, Mayweather knocked Corrales down five times and stopped him in the 10th round. Four months after the loss, Corrales was sentenced to two years in prison on a domestic abuse charge for beating his pregnant wife, Maria. She later divorced him.
After a year-long stint in prison, Corrales was released for good behavior. He resumed his career and went on to win the vacant WBO junior lightweight title in March 2004. Five months later, he moved up to lightweight rank and won that WBO belt after stopping Acelino “Popo” Freitas in the 10th round.
Corrales was best known for getting up after two 10th-round knockdowns to stop Jose Luis Castillo on May 7, 2005. His dramatic KO of Castillo led the Boxing Writers Association of America to call the slugfest the “fight of the year.” Corrales was knocked out by Castillo in the rematch, then had three straight fights undermined at the weigh-in. Last October, he moved up two weight classes to fight Joshua Clottey in Springfield, Mo. Corrales was knocked down in the 9th and 10th rounds and lost by a unanimous decision. Although he was still in training, his career never recovered.
In July 2006, Corrales’ vehicle and motorcycle licenses were revoked for a drunken driving conviction of an Oct. 2005 arrest. He also faced arrest stemming from a failure to appear in January on a 2006 DUI charge. Corrales married a second time, but was estranged from his pregnant wife, Michelle, at the time of his death.
Exactly two years after his most famous bout, Corrales was riding a 2007 Suzuki 1000 motorcycle at a high speed when he tried to pass a northbound 1997 Honda Accord on a busy residential street west of the Las Vegas Strip. To avoid an oncoming Mercedes, he got back in the northbound lane and slammed into the Honda’s trunk. Corrales, who was wearing a helmet and riding without a license, was thrown from the bike and pronounced dead at the scene, police said. The driver of the Mercedes escaped injury; the driver of the Honda suffered a minor shoulder injury.
Corrales listed “God” as his hero on his MySpace page. He enjoyed riding bikes, watching gangster movies, skiing and playing golf in his spare time. He is survived by his five children. A sixth child is due in July.
“He fought recklessly and he lived recklessly. That was his style,” Corrales’ promoter, Gary Shaw, said.
Listen to a FightFan.com Interview With Corrales
Watch Video From the Corrales vs. Castillo I Bout

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