Dictathletes: When it comes to sports, dictators have that competitive edge
Shining moment (II): In a scene from a 1974 documentary film, the thick-bellied Amin — wearing what appears to be a gold watch and looking like a cross between Humpty Dumpty and a hairless grizzly bear — challenges five lithe swimmers to a race. After jumping in the water, Amin cuts across two lanes, shoving his competitors underwater en route; meanwhile, the other three racers move their arms rather unemphatically, generating splashes, if not actual forward movement.
Sporting legacy: Amin’s reign of terror also a powerful lesson for squash-playing corporate underlings everywhere.
Scouting report: Recently departed Dear Leader was also quite possibly the greatest sportsman of the 20th century — that is, assuming the North Korean state press is 100 percent fair, balanced and accurate in its sports reporting.
Shining moment (I): In his first-ever game of golf, Mr. Kim finished an 18-hole round on a 7,700-yard course in Pyongyang with a score of 38 under par, recording from five to 11 holes-in-one. According, of course, to state media.
Shining moment (II): Bowled a perfect 300 in his first attempt. Also according to state media, which once reported that Mr. Kim invented the hamburger.
Shining moment (III): North Korean national soccer team manager Kim Jong-hun told ESPN.com that he received tactical advice during matches from Mr. Kim, via “mobile phones that are not visible to the naked eye” using technology Mr. Kim “developed himself.”
Sporting legacy: If you want favorable coverage, expropriate the media.
Scouting report: Cuban dictator famously loves baseball almost as much as communism, brown hats.
Shining moment: Contrary to popular myth, the young Mr. Castro never tried out for the Washington Senators. He has, however, wrapped himself in the longtime competitive success of the Cuban national baseball team — and once used a 1999 Baltimore Orioles-Cuba exhibition game in Havana as an opportunity to sit next to Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball.
Sporting legacy: Hanging around athletes is a great way to look younger and more vibrant than you actually are — almost as great as dying your beard, or sitting next to Bud Selig.
Scouting report: Eccentric Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi used his political pull to land his soccer-playing son, Al-Saadi, gigs with three Italian professional clubs over an eight-year span.
Shining moment (I): Jay Bothroyd, an Englishman who played with Al-Saadi in Italy, told Yahoo Sports that his Libyan teammate “wasn’t the best. But he did it as a hobby. He is a billionaire but … he wanted to play football, to come in every day and train. And he did it, to be fair. He never expected any special treatment. But obviously there were his bodyguards around.” Yes, and the children of former American presidents receive no special treatment from network news departments, either.
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