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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: From Bulgarian Hockey To Killer Kowalski

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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly will be a recurring column that will explore some of the more unusual stories from the world of sports. These stories will be presented three at a time with one bad, one good and one ugly sports story appearing together. The purpose of the column is to introduce the reader to some under the radar sporting events and hopefully provide a little humor along the way. And so away we go!

The Ugly! Bulgaria has finally taken the plunge and started a women’s hockey team. No doubt the team had visions of Winter Olympic medals dancing in their heads as they faced off for the first time against The Slovakia National team. Three periods later they had lost by a score of 82-0. Yes, the Slovakia team scored 82 goals. Those 30 or so first period goals no doubt removed a lot of the suspense from the game. Most sports have a mercy rule. You get behind by so many runs, points or goals, the game is stopped and you lose. It is safe to assume that the mercy rule for women’s hockey is at least 83 goals ahead. The Bulgarians can assume it can’t get any worse. Of course the Slovakians are not the best team in the world so maybe it can.

The Bad! There have been all sorts of statistics released about the just completed Olympics. One of my favorite set of statistics was number of medals won vs. population. The United States won a medal for every about 3.4 million people. China won a medal for every 13.7 million people which means there are a lot more Chinese than Americans. In last place was India who, with just three medals in a country of over one billion people, won one for every 374 million people. I can’t help but think that there must be a few ping pong players hiding somewhere in the middle of a billion people. I hereby volunteer myself to head up their Olympic federation with the promise of winning more than three medals in 2012.

The Good! Killer Kowalski, despite the name, was a gentle soul and one of the good guys of life, if not professional wrestling. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in front of the television set on Saturday mornings and trembling as the six foot, five inch, 275 pound Kowalski would put his feared claw hold on his defeated opponents. This was the man who tore off Yukon Eric’s ear in a match by accident as it turns out. Kowalski would wrestle for thirty years (1947-1977) and had the distinction of always being the villain. It all seemed so real to a 9-year-old.

After his retirement Edward Walter Spulnik (real name) made a living by running a wrestling school which should come as no surprise. What was surprising was his passion for photography. He would win hundreds of awards and hold a number of exhibitions. He was also constantly honored for his charitable efforts. He even married for the first time at age 79. Shortly before his death, August 8, 2008, he was asked what he would do if he had it to do it all over again? Kowalski replied, “I’d be an electrical engineer."

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About David Bowling