David Bruce: The Funniest People in Sports: 250 Anecdotes — Martial Arts, Media

Martial Arts

• It is easy to be intimidated by people without the power to harm you. Martial arts expert and actor Bruce Lee noticed that this sometimes happened to martial arts student Joe Hyams, so he drew a chalk circle on a driveway, then had Mr. Hyams stand inside the circle. Outside the circle, Mr. Lee made a few martial arts moves. Mr. Hyams stiffened, but Mr. Lee told him he had no reason for fear because as long as Mr. Lee was outside the circle, he wasn’t close enough to harm him. Mr. Lee drew a little closer, and again Mr. Hyams stiffened. Again, Mr. Lee pointed out that he wasn’t close enough to do him any harm. Mr. Lee then jumped inside the circle, and Mr. Hyams moved back. “Good,” said Mr. Lee. “You’ve moved your circle back so that I am no threat to you.” This exercise taught Mr. Hyams to recognize when he was truly threatened and not to worry about mere attempts at intimidation.


• The 1965 Figure Skating World Championships took place in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Back then, figure skating was not recognized as a major sport, and incredibly, only eight accredited media people were present. Although you would expect the figure skaters to do their best to please the media, the head of the Canadian delegation tried to deny them access to Petra Burka after she won her gold medal. Eventually, they managed to speak to her but only for approximately 90 seconds. Following this debacle, figure skater Donald Knight lunched with media representatives Frank Orr and George Gross. Mr. Gross was aggrieved with the process of trying to interview Ms. Burka after her win, so Mr. Knight volunteered to give them his interview right then. He gave the reporters quotes to use if he finished third, as expected; if he got lucky and finished second; if he got really lucky and won the gold medal; and if he messed up and did not win a medal. In other words, Mr. Orr and Mr. Gross had their quotes from Mr. Knight before his event even started. Mr. Orr says, “Ever since then, Don Knight has been one of my favorite athletes.” (Mr. Knight won the bronze medal, as expected.)

• In 1989, figure skating choreographer Sandra Bezic worked on the full-length motion picture Carmen on Ice, where she had some interesting experiences. For one thing, a German actor who played the role of the officer who orders Carmen’s arrest had stated on his resume that he could skate — he lied. For filming, other people had to push him into the scene with just enough force so that he would stop where he was supposed to. For one scene, Katerina Witt, who played Carmen, was supposed to land a triple jump at 4 a.m. She missed the jump 30 times in a row due to exhaustion and rough ice on a smaller-than-normal rink, then she rubbed the bald spot of Ms. Bezic’s husband for good luck. After successfully landing the jump, Ms. Witt said that she had discovered a good-luck charm.

• In Maryland in 1973, Ilie Nastase and Clark Graebner played an Indoor Tennis match at which a Washington Post reporter sat courtside typing in order to write his story and file it by his deadline. The tennis players complained about the noise made by the typewriter, and the tennis fans told the reporter to stop his noisy typing because it distracted the players. However, because of his deadline, the reporter ignored the fans. Eventually, a fan grew so annoyed that he grabbed the reporter’s typewriter and ran away with it.

• John Chapman, drama critic for the New York Daily News, loved Shakespeare. He once started to attend a new production of Henry V at the Shakespeare theater at Stratford, Connecticut, but was surprised to see gymnasts performing on stage. Thinking that he was early for the play, he asked an usher what was being performed on stage, and he was surprised when the usher told him that the performance was Henry V and that it opened with gymnasts. Mr. Chapman replied, “The hell it does,” and then he left the theater.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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