Last night, Whitney Thompson was named the winner of cycle 10 of America’s Next Top Model. She was the first “plus-sized” model (meaning she weighs more than 100 pounds) to win the crown since the show began in 2003. It was seen as a monumental step for the modeling industry, according to the show’s creator, Tyra Banks.
This got me thinking that it was about time “plus-sized” athletes got the recognition they deserve. The following athletes have managed to succeed in their sports despite weighing nearly as much as an 18-wheeler. In no particular order, here are three of the best “plus-sized” athletes of all time.
Cecil Fielder: Cecil, also known as “Big Daddy” is one of the largest men ever to grace the baseball field. His listed weight on baseballreference.com is 240, but the 6-foot-3 first baseman was pushing 300 by the time he retired in 1998. Fielder excelled despite a penchant for hot dogs, making the All-Star team 3 times and leading the Major Leagues with 51 homeruns and 132 RBI for the Blue Jays in 1991. Fielder is unique in the fact that his girth wasn’t a result of getting out of shape in his later years. He was fat when he came into the league and fat when he left it. Oh, I’m sorry, “plus-sized.”
P.S.- Cecil’s son, Prince, is not afraid of the cheeseburgers either.
Kevin Duckworth: This guy, again under-listed at 275 pounds , made an immediate impact in the league as a true center for the Portland Trailblazers in 1987-88. The 7-footer averaged over 15 points per game for four straight years until the Cinnabons got to him. As his scoring average went down over the next six years, his weight went up, leading to this flattering picture in his final year in the league with the lowly Los Angeles Clippers.
William “The Refrigerator” Perry: One of the most popular “plus-sizers” of all-time, the Fridge embraced his hefty nature from Day One, using his considerable size to become an effective player on both sides of the ball. He was also on the 1985 Superbowl Champion Chicago Bears team who entered into legendary status with the greatest sports-related rap in music history. (Yes, I’ve been waiting for an excuse to put this video up, the Fridge blesses the mic around 4:42)
Congratulations to Whitney and the three athletes above for opening doors for “plus-sized” people in both the sports and modeling world. Hopefully these two worlds never collide, although it would be interesting to see a spread of Big Daddy, The Duck, and The Fridge in this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. I’ll start a petition.