According to reports on the internet, Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage is broke.
It seems quite a shock when it happens to a high-flying celebrity like that, because sportsmen are the most common victims – especially boxers, although not exclusively.
Mike Tyson is probably the most famous case, but there have been many others.
In South Africa there are several boxers who earned good money during their careers but now they are broke. It’s sad that they could not invest their money wisely (it’s amazing how many of them decided to open businesses, which almost always went under).
The thing about these sportsmen is that they have until their 30s to make their money before their earning potential is over.
Cage, on the other hand, is 45 and still making movies. Mind you, I remember reading somewhere that Elvis Presley was less than a year away from going bankrupt when he died.
If you believe in coincidence, how about this – Elvis’s birthday is January 8 and Cage’s is January 7! Also born on January 7 is Corrie Sanders, South Africa’s former heavyweight star who is now also broke.
When Manny Pacquiao steps into the ring against Miguel Cotto in what could be the biggest fight of the year on November 14, few may recall that his rise to stardom started eight years ago against a South African fighter.
Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, who grew up in Johannesburg’s famous sprawling township of Soweto, was the IBF junior-featherweight champion who, according to promoter Rodney Berman, was on the verge of securing an HBO fight contract.
All he had to do was win the sixth defence of a belt that had seemingly become the property of South Africa. It was first owned by East London-based Welcome Ncita (1990-1992), who lost it to American Kennedy McKinney (1992-1994) before being reclaimed by Ncita’s stablemate, Vuyani Bungu (1994-1999), who defended it a record 13 times before vacating it to step up a division to take on Naseem Hamed.
Ledwaba – one of the finest South African fighters of that era (the other stand-outs included Mzukisi Sikali and Corrie Sanders) – won the vacant IBF junior-featherweight crown.
His sixth defence, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on June 6 2001, appeared to be mere routine – he faced a late replacement, an unknown who once held the WBC flyweight title before losing that belt on a third-round KO. Ledwaba was heavy handed and it seemed unthinkable that a boxer who had stepped up from flyweight would give him a problem.
But that’s exactly what happened. Pacquiao dropped Ledwaba in the opening round and eventually stopped the champion in the sixth. Ledwaba’s performance seemed so ineffectual that Berman effectively dumped him!
It turns out that his loss to Pacquiao was no disgrace. Two years later the Filipino entered superstardom after stepping up to featherweight to score a sensational stoppage victory over the legendary Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera. Wars against Juan Manuel Marquez and Erik Morales followed before moving up to lightweight (David Diaz – wTKO9), welterweight (Oscar De La Hoya – wTKO8) and junior-welterweight (Ricky Hatton – wKO2).
Perhaps it’s no surprise then that more than 80% of people who have voted on this blog’s poll are tipping Pacman to beat welterweight champion Cotto inside the distance. To vote, click here.
Sitting next to me in The Times office is seasoned sports editor Archie Henderson. Balding, greying and wrinkling, he would be the last person to discriminate against someone on the basis of age.
But Archie quickly took a bet today against Michael Schumacher winning a single race in his comeback bid. Sure, Schumi’s decision to return to the track has sparked plenty of interest – even for me, not the planet’s biggest Formula 1 fan. After all, every sports fan loves a comeback – a la George Foreman!
Lance Armstrong’s return made the 2009 Tour de France far more interesting for me, and I’m sure many other fans. Armstrong did well, I thought. He may not have won, but coming third overall wasn’t too bad.
There’s always something intriguing when a great sportsman returns to the battle field, although I must admit I’ve heard a rumour of Corrie Sanders coming back to take on Fransie Botha. That would have been a great fight 10 years ago, probably even five years ago, but not now. Muhammad Ali’s return to take on Larry Holmes in 1980 was a sad tale too.
But it’s not only boxers who feel the urge to return to the limelight – swimmer Mark Spitz did it too (unsuccessfully).
In the case of Schumi, I agree with my colleague Archie – he won’t relive his glory years. Brian Mitchell made a two-fight comeback in the mid-1990s and afterwards admitted it was a mistake (even though he won both bouts). As Mitchell likes to say: “You can’t buy experience, but you can’t buy youth either.”
Good luck, Schumi. I’ll be watching, but not hoping.