At some point in the history of boxing, someone decided that it was compulsory for every fighter to have a nickname. And since that point, the sport has been plagued by awful nicknames. Rather than being something you have to earn, nicknames are something your manager thinks of before your first fight. For every Juan “The Hispanic Causing Panic” Lazcano, there are hundreds of Magic Men, Prides of [Insert Shitbox Town] and Sons of God (OK, there’s only one SOG, Andre Ward, but it’s a spectacularly bad nickname that makes no sense and seems kind of blasphemous for an overtly Christian athlete, but I digress). So TQBR looked at some of the best nicknames of the best boxers (in the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board top 10 of each division) to work out what makes a great nickname:
Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara
If a man can’t defect from one of the world’s last communist countries, get caught and shipped back, defect again, move to Germany, lose a big fight due to bad judging, sign with Al Haymon, draw with Vanez Martirosyan and eventually get a superfight with a Mexican redhead then the American Dream really is dead.
Wladimir “Dr Steelhammer” Klitschko and Vitali “Dr Ironfist” Klitschko
The appeal of the Klitschko brothers’ nicknames is all about Eastern Bloc schlock. The Rocky-villain factor is dialed up to 11, and with it a certain homo–eroticism. The schlock factor is so high on these nicknames that they’re hardly ever used, which is exactly why we should never forget them.
Ruslan “The Siberian Rocky” Provodnikov (pictured)
Speaking of Eastern Europe, Ruslan Provodnikov’s nickname is outstanding. Especially when you consider that he most likely gave it to himself But his journey, from the Siberian town of Beryozovo to ESPN and then into boxing’s true elite, really is the kind of stuff the Rocky films were based on. You get the feeling, though, that he missed Rocky IV.
Marco “Captain” Huck
He’s a Serbian pirate (who still has two hands), what more can you say.
Evgeny “The Mexican Russian” Gradovich
He’s Russian, but he fights like a Mexican. His name could not be less Mexican. He’s a Mexican Russian like he forgot he left some enchiladas in the oven (I’m sorry, I’ll show myself out).
James “The Mandingo Warrior” Kirkland
There’s something a bit strange about naming yourself after a semi-pornographic ’70s B Movie/adult film star. There’s something a bit strange about James Kirkland, though, so it kind of fits. Of course, if Kirkland’s nickname refers to the West African tribe more often referred to as the Mandinka (which the movie and, uh, movie guy were named after), then I’ve got this totally wrong.
Marcos “El Chino” Maidana
This is one of those Spanish nicknames that doesn’t really make sense. Why would a guy from Argentina call himself “The Chinaman?” Would a guy from America call himself “The Australian?” Hell, Adrien Broner got in trouble just for saying “Mexican.” Whatever, we love you Marcos, you can call yourself whatever you damn well please.
Miguel “El Titere” Vazquez
You have a choice of any big cat, bird of prey or ’80s action hero in the world for your nickname, and you go for… “The Puppet?” What is Miguel Vazquez trying to imply? Is he captive to special interests? If so, who? And why haven’t they controlled him in a fight that any sane human being would actually want to watch?
Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux
With his dark, soulless eyes and ruthless body punching, Guillermo Rigondeaux’s “Jackal” moniker suits him perfectly. Not that jackals punch you in the guts. More just that he’s a sinister kind of guy when the mood strikes him. Still waiting for a C.J. Cregg-style rendition of the song, though.
Adrian “El Confesor” Hernandez
There’s a PhD waiting to be done on Catholicism and boxing in Latin America and “The Confessor” is ready for the starring role. The nickname conjures the image of a junior flyweight priest getting in to the ring, collar and all. Imagine how all of his poor, guilt-ridden Mexican foes must feel.