Takeru Kobayashi is the MJ of competitive eating. The Lance Armstrong of hot dog contests. He's won 6 straight contests at Nathan's and he's undefeated except for a face-off with a bear.

So I was shocked when i heard reports of his jaw arthritis. What a cruel injury for a champion of competitive eating. Especially when a worthy opponent, Joey Chestnut has finally risen from the ranks. But now Kobayashi has issued a statement announcing his intention to compete for his 7th straight title at Nathan's Famous on July 4th. This adds even more drama to his showdown with Chestnut. Will Kobayashi overcome his ailment like a hobbling Willis Reed for the Knicks in 1970 or MJ playing thru a flu in the 1997 finals? Or will it be a built in excuse in case he loses? Chestnut's been turning on the pressure since nearly beating him last year and breaking his record recently. I've been a big fan of Kobayashi since he started his winning streak in '01 and I hope he comes up big.

Why am I a fan? I respect his training regimen and his discipline. He insists that competitive eating is a sport and takes pride in his unusual ability. I also enjoy watching dominant sports figures and teams demonstrating their excellence. Call it bandwagon fandom, but I think dynasties are great for sports. Celtics, UCLA, Lakers, Yankees, MJ's Bulls, Tiger, Federer etc. Dynasties create an added sense of love/hate interest even from casual fans.

Maybe this is the year Kobayashi finally falls. 6 years is a good run. Either way, I'll be watching.


Find It