Evander Holyfield is 47. He’s still climbing into a ring. He looks like a cartoon.
Herschel Walker is 47. He’s also climbing into a ring. He just looks cool.
It took a little while but I think I finally figured out the difference. Holyfield is still trying to hang on to a boxing career that has long been comatose. Walker left his career long ago. He isn’t running with a football at 47. He’s just looking for an outlet for that same competitive gene that drove him on the field.
You’ve probably heard by now that Walker will be competing in his first MMA event next Saturday in Miami. I have no problem with it whatsoever. He’s long been one of my favorite athletes, and certainly the only one who I’ve ever spoken to during three completely different vocations: 1) football player; 2) Olympic bobsledder; 3) frozen food manufacturer. (That is how you define versatility.)
Some former athletes can’t stand being off stage, and they come off looking like a clown, orchestrating stories to stay in the public eye. With Walker, you get the feeling he jumped into mixed-martial arts because it’s really something he wants to do.
“People always say what you can’t do instead of what you can,” Walker said at a recent news conference in Miami. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Sometimes you have to set your ego aside. I missed Christmas and New Year’s [while training]. You can tell I’m serious, because I love Santa Claus.”
And no, I’m not going to be the one to tell him.
He is 6-1, 216 pounds and has 4 percent body fat. He is a sixth-degree black belt. I find it difficult to believe he is going to embarrass himself.
At the very least, Walker will perform far better than Jose Canseco did in his MMA debut. And if you can’t remember that train wreck, here’s the video of Canseco vs. Hong Man Choi last May.