Horse racing and MMA. Not always the sports you’d link, yet there is more than immediately meets a glance.
They each offer the world two of the most famous athletes of the moment. One out runs every competitor, the other pounds out every competitor.
If you stop ten people at random on the street and ask if they know who American Pharoah is or who Ronda Rousey is, the odds are good almost all will know they both represent greatness. Greatness is the key to it all.
America loves its sports stars, even more those who exceed where even the other exceptional have fallen short. American Pharoah not only won the elusive Triple Crown, he emphatically left his large hoof prints with a resounding victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, something never done before, something many of us may not see again. Even if you don’t know much about racing, you realize this is special, this is magical.
Before my interview with UFC welterweight champ Robbie Lawler he talked about that race, a champ recognizing the monumental achievement of another. During my visits to the barn at Keeneland last week, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who brilliantly guided American Pharoah’s campaign, talked about the dominance of Rousey in the octagon. One extraordinary sports success acknowledging another.
If Fall Out Boy can rock the Country Music Awards, all genres can respect and admire the other.
Pharoah planted a large exclamation point in the finish line last Saturday, his final race as he moves to stallion duties, which financially will be more lucrative than his amazing race career. That is the caveat of racing, the very best, even the greats, have an incredibly brief stay. In two years, this one especially, he leaves an indelible memory of the rare treat he brought to the sport.
As Rousey prepares for her showdown with former boxing champ Holly Holm, there are more fights in her future yet with an increasing amount of movie offers and commercial opportunities, it’s likely the day coming when she leaves the throne as Queen of MMA will be sooner than later.
What the equine legend and fighting genius have given fans is so simple to explain yet almost impossible to do–they’ve created a legacy that will be the standard for generations.
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