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Nicknames: the good, the bad and the ugly

Photo courtesy Twitter @ForrestGriffin

Sports teams and athletes need good monikers. It gives fans something to relate to, and helps with marketing too. Baseball teams typically use  benign mascots like Orioles, Blue Jays, Yankees, or even a colours, like Reds.

Football and hockey teams normally use something a little tougher, like Steelers, Ravens or Flames, even if names like Browns, Habs and Leafs are not uncommon. If your football team has a wimpy name like Cardinals or Dolphins, you at least need to put a snarl on the bird’s beak and a helmet on the fish.

With fighters, nicknames often refer to the style of the fighter, or are  a nickname given to him in high school or the gym. It’s important that a fighter have the right name: a bad one can stick with him forever, and stick in the craw of  the fan.


Really thought-provoking nicknames: David ‘Tank’ Abbott moved like one; Paul ‘The Polar Bear’ Varelans stalked like one; Oleg ‘The Russian Bear’ Taktarov had probably fought and beaten one; Wanderlei ‘The Axe Murderer’ Silva didn’t actually carry an axe and kill people, but one never knew from the look of him; Keith ‘The Giant Killer’ Hackney beat 6’6” 666-pound Emmanuel Yarborough, in spite of the latter’s demonic stature; Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Lidell was cool as ice before putting opponents on ice.

More respectable names: Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture ironically worked as hard as anyone to become champ in two weight classes; Georges ‘Rush’ St. Pierre pretty much does that as he demolishes opponents; Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva, noted for his ultra long limbs, doesn’t need a scary moniker to put fear into his opponents---his walk in song is Ain’t No Sunshine, a DMX cover of Bill Wither’s song; Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida and Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua embody the respect Japanese martial arts command.


The worst nicknames: Nick ‘The Promise’ Ring defies my keypad; Jonathan ‘War Machine’ Koppenhaver actually made the  moniker his legal name---Good choice, Mr. Machine; Sean ‘The Muscle Shark’ Sherk doesn't realize sharks are made mostly of cartilage. Ken ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Man’ Shamrock is far from being the world’s most dangerous man, although I haven’t seen him drive.

There are outright lame names:  Kenny ‘Ken-Flo’ Florian bathes in unoriginality; Keith ‘The Dean of Mean’ Jardine rhymes and that’s about it; Elvis ‘The King of Rock ‘n Rumble' Sinosic just defies taste; Stephan ‘The American Psycho’ Bonnar obviously never read the book by Brett Easton Ellis (an excellent book no one should ever read, and a crappy movie no one should watch).

One nickname utterly fools you: Jon ‘Bones’ Jones should be about the light heavyweight champion feeding his opponents fists, knees and elbows, but actually refers to his skinny chicken legs.


Changing a moniker can be dangerous, because people just don't buy it. The hated Tito Ortiz opted away from the appropriate ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ to the outright lie, ‘The People’s Champion’; Diego ‘Nightmare’ Sanchez’s ferocity, pace and chin made that name apt, and was one of the best, but his positivity caused him to change it to the positively ridiculous Diego ‘The Dream’ Sanchez, a name that perhaps harkens to his pining for a belt.

Up for grabs

Two  good ones mysteriously untaken: The Crusher  would be perfect for the incredibly massive and strong Shane Carwin; The Shropshire Slasher is waiting for a decent Brit heavyweight, so will likely never find a home.

Not all fighters have monikers. Not all fighters have shaved heads or tattoos either. If you have good hair, good skin and a good name, you don’t need any of it. I give you Forrest Griffin (see photo above).

Renko is available for moniker consultation.

Take our survey and win a ski weekend at The Westin Whistler and lift tickets for Whistler Blackcomb.

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