Friday, 23rd August 2019

Cliff Notes: Angels Landing

Posted on 01. Mar, 2013 by FSM Staff in General Sports, Highlight

Cliff Notes: Angels Landing

Angels Landing located at Zion National Park in Utah is perhaps the most semi-famous hike in the United States. Many hikers I’ve encountered during my travels have “kind of” heard of it. Common responses are, “That’s the one with the big walls right?” or “The one where people always fall off and die?” My answer to these and similar questions is usually, “Well…kinda.”

Anyone in half decent shape shouldn’t have trouble completing this hike. There is nothing overly strenuous about this trail. The switchbacks leading up to the final leg of the trail are steep but they are also paved which is extremely helpful (not to mention a rarity on this kind of trek). This section is affectionately known as Walton’s Wiggles. As you hike up the wiggles, you will have solid canyon wall to your left. To your right, you will have a sliver of a view of the bigger canyon you find yourself in. Depending on the time day, you will see a different mix of orange, red, and maroon in the rocks with random greenery sprinkled throughout. An avid hiker would probably spend no more than 60 minutes completing this trail through the end of Walton’s Wiggles.

View from Walton's Wiggles

The WW switchbacks lead to a narrow trail that eventually ascends like a staircase to the point of the trail known as Scout’s Lookout. This is where first timers will have an initial glimpse of the behemoth they are about to take on. This is also where people usually start thinking about turning back. I mentioned earlier that this hike is not strenuous which is true. The emotional component to completing this hike cannot be understated however. When you are standing on Scout’s Lookout, gazing at the thin strip of trail that leads up to Angels Landing, looking at the thousands of feet of drop-off on each side, there is a good chance your nerves will make the decision of quitting or going on for you. Don’t make a hasty decision though.

The Disclaimer Plaque

View from Scout's Lookout

Use the random outhouse at the lookout if you need a second to compose yourself. Take reassurance knowing that the number of people who have died trying to reach the top is not even in double digits. My point is that’s an extremely low number.

Admittedly, there are a few spots on the way to the top of Angels Landing that could use some chains. But the final portion of trail is well constructed and safe overall. Hold on to the chains whenever available, watch where you step, and resist the urge to take in the scenery until you summit. Once you make it to the top, there is plenty of space to relax safely and admire the beautiful views: giant walls of multi-colored rock on both sides with a river curving its way through the canyon floor.

The Payoff!

Don’t let any initial fears at Scout’s Lookout prevent you from completing this hike. If you exercise caution and respect your environment, you should be fine. The payoff for crossing the finish line is twofold. You get treated to unimaginable views that few will ever see form that vantage point and you gain the satisfaction of completing what most consider a daunting task. The trail is properly named. If a landing strip for angels really exists in Utah, there is good chance this is it.

Orlando Cruz Announces He Is Gay

Posted on 06. Oct, 2012 by FSM Staff in Boxing, General Sports

Orlando Cruz Announces He Is Gay

In a sport where people are trying to punch you in the face, you must give credit to Orlando Cruz for coming out as the first openly gay active professional boxer.

Cruz is not some tomato can journeyman or a guy who is about to retire. He is a fringe contender in the featherweight division. At age 31 and with a record of 18-2-1, he definitely has a few good years left ahead of him. He is headlining a card that will be televised on Telemundo later this month for example. That is what makes his announcement that much more remarkable.

“I want people to look at me for the human being that I am. I am a professional sportsman that always brings his best to the ring. I want for people to continue to see me for my boxing skills, my character, my sportsmanship. But I also want kids who suffer from bullying to know that you can be whoever you want to be in life, including a professional boxer, that anything is possible and that who you are or whom you love should not be impediment to achieving anything in life.”

In a perfect world, this wouldn’t be news. Orlando Cruz is gay. So what. But we are talking about boxing here and it’s not the most progressive sport at times, and neither are many of its fans. Reaction to the announcement by those in the boxing world has been positive in the media but who knows how people really feel behind the scenes?

Boxing is not in the spotlight like the MLB, NFL, or NBA. Though Orlando Cruz is a fringe contender, you’ve probably never heard of him before reading this article. The fact that a featherweight from Puerto Rico had the guts to become the first openly gay active professional in these four sports is a surprise and a shame on the MLB, NFL, and NBA. The fact that this story still matters is a shame on the rest of us.

The Klitschko VS Klitschko Debate

Posted on 11. Sep, 2012 by FSM Staff in Boxing, General Sports

The Klitschko VS Klitschko Debate

The first decade of this century will be remembered as one of the weakest of all time for the heavyweight division. The decline officially started in 2003 when Lennox Lewis announced his retirement from the sport, leaving the division wide open for the Klitschko brothers to feast.

After a few bumps in the road named Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster, the real Waldimir Klitschko emerged. He started collecting KOs like they were going out of style and he recently reached the 50 KO club. Think about that. This man has knocked out fifty other human beings.

Vitali never had as much hype as his baby brother when HBO was introducing the Klitschko’s to their American viewers. Vitali always seemed to be that supportive older guy in the corner that just looked like he could box. His knockouts were less sensational but far more brutal as they usually built up over time. His lack of mainstream appeal was directly due to his lack of vulnerability. When Vitali’s younger brother Wladimir would fight, he was always a puncher’s chance away from losing a fight.

Vitali however has had no Corrie Sanders moments. Instead, he played his role as big brother and whipped Sanders’ arse to get revenge for the Klitschko name. Not only has he never been knocked out but he hasn’t even been knocked down. His only two losses were due to injury and he was ahead on the scorecards in both fights before the stoppages occurred.

The Klitschko brothers have vowed never to fight each other but Vitali would be the overwhelming favorite if they ever did.

The weak heavyweight division is obviously no fault of the Klitschkos. Unfortunately it will be considered in discussions everywhere when fans debate amongst themselves. It will be hard to place the pair amongst the greats of all time but they do belong in there somewhere.

But let’s stimulate the mind for a second. Suppose you could only choose one of them for the boxing hall of fame. Who would it be? Could Vitali ever reach 50 KOs? Could Wladimir hang with Lennox Lewis?

2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony A Surreal Ride

Posted on 28. Jul, 2012 by FSM Staff in General Sports, Highlight

2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony A Surreal Ride

If you are an aficionado of the Olympic games or just a passive observer, chances are you saw the opening ceremony for the 2012 games in London on Friday night. As usual, the artistic presentation of the event made for a grand spectacle leaving more questions than answers, like “what’s with that giant baby?”

Based on anecdotal evidence gathered at the FreeSportsMag water cooler, opinions of the opening ceremony seem to be a bit more polarized this time around. Judging from the buzz on the internet, this appears to be an accurate assessment. FSM’s offical stance? We think the opening ceremonies in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 came across as more meaningful while the 2012 opening ceremony gave us nightmares (well just the weird bootleg Harry Potter part) but ultimately delivered.

The 2012 opening ceremony started with a whimper. Watching working slaves usher in the age of industry was drab to say the least and not the most uplifting visual in this bustling economy (sarcasm). Things started to pick up however when giant Olympic rings were raised to the sky and golden colored fireworks spilled out from the them giving the illusion of flowing hot metal as the image of the rings was scorched in to the ground. Next to the lighting of the torch, it was our favorite visual of the evening.

But things started to degenerate again when for some reason famous fictional British villains were honored which later gave way to some demons and a bunch of scared kiddos hiding in their beds. Then came the giant baby which should have elicited an “Awwwww” reaction but instead most people just said “Ewwwww”. At this point we had to make sure we did not accidentally step in to a time machine and go back our college days because we thought we were having a bad trip.

Luckily, the parade of athletes and actual lighting of the Olympic flame was entertaining and we snapped backed in to reality. Having David Beckham deliver the torch via a speeding boat was corny but in a nice way. It was also a touching sentiment to have former English Olympic greats receive the flame and literally pass the torch to the youngsters that will be representing Great Britain in the years to come. When the time came to light the big flame, it was a beautiful sight to see 200 smaller metal torches rising and uniting to form a single, giant cauldron.

Bonus points for having Paul McCartney get caught up in the moment and almost break down and cry before starting his performance. It was an appropriate way to end a surreal night. In the spirit of the Olympic games, FSM is handing out medals and this opening ceremony receives a bronze.

What are your thoughts about the London Olympics 2012 opening ceremony ? Feel free to comment below.

R.I.P. Mr. Nice Guy

Posted on 03. Feb, 2012 by FSM Staff in Boxing, General Sports

R.I.P. Mr. Nice Guy

Much like the rest of the sporting universe, the folks at FreeSportsMag were deeply saddened to hear of Angleo Dundee’s passing at age 90 on Wednesday. Mostly known for his work with Muhammad Ali, Dundee also worked the corner for George Foreman when he pulled off one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history. But even more than being a great trainer and motivator, Angelo Dundee was a legendary nice guy – something more impressive than all of Ali’s wins combined in a sport as shady as boxing. So if you are reading this right now, we ask you that you take a brief moment of silence for a legend lost.

If you would like to read more about the great Angelo Dundee, ESPN has a great story currently running on their website.

Smokin’ Farewell

Posted on 09. Nov, 2011 by FSM Staff in Boxing, General Sports

Smokin’ Farewell

For better or worse, Smokin’ Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali will be forever linked. Many years after their famous trilogy, the heated rivalry between the two has overshadowed their individual accomplishments in the ring. It’s similar to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Both men achieved many things in the NBA, bust most fans (outside of L.A. and Boston) only remember that era in terms of Magic versus Bird or Lakers versus Celtics.

With Joe Frazier’s recent passing from liver cancer at age 67, boxing fans now look back at perhaps the greatest era the Heavyweight division has ever seen. One that started with Sonny Liston and ended with Larry Holmes and George Foreman. The era is full of great fighters and legendary battles.

Frazier was the first man to beat Muhammad Ali. But it was the third fight in their series, dubbed the Thrilla in Manila, that people most remember. Frazier and Ali traded blows for 14 violent rounds. Frazier’s corner ultimately threw in the towel, but his performance in the fight was a perfect illustration of what made him great.

The current era in the heavyweight division will undoubtedly be labeled the Klitschko era in the years to come. Had the Klitschko brothers run into Joe Frazier or anyone like him it might be a different story.

So we at FreeSportsMagazine would like to bid Joe Frazier a sincere, smokin’ farewell. We’ve gathered some quotes from around the web for you to read and share as you remember a legend:

“I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration. My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.” -Muhammad Ali

“Joe Frazier should be remembered as one of the greatest fighters of all time and a real man. He’s a guy that stood up for himself. He didn’t compromise and always gave 100 percent in the ring. There was never a fight in the ring where Joe didn’t give 100 percent.” -Bob Arum

“The courage Smokin’ Joe showed in The Thrilla in Manila, answering every Ali onslaught with an equally withering response, will remain in the hearts and minds of boxing fans around the globe forever,” – Don King

“Talk about Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, even me. But the fact is, there is only one common, ordinary, everyday Joe, and he is ‘The One and Only Joe Frazier.’” -George Foreman

Please Respect Glen Johnson

Posted on 16. Aug, 2011 by FSM Staff in Boxing, General Sports

Please Respect Glen Johnson

Kelly Pavlik refuses to do it. Mikkel Kessler wants no part of it either. Both can use the money excuse all they want. None of them want to trade punches with Lucian Bute in Montreal any time soon. Has the electric Bute ran out of intriguing fight options? Not if you ask Glen “Road Warrior” Johnson. At 42 years young, Johnson lobbied hard to land a match against Bute in his own backyard – and he got one.

Most would look at Glen Johnson’s career record of 51-15-2 and dismiss him right away. Avid fight fans would not be so quick to brush him aside however. The Road Warrior always brings it. Always. With Pavlik and Kessler ducking Bute for the time being, Johnson is a worthy substitute.

I’ll admit Johnson didn’t pop up on my radar until his brutal upset knockout of Roy Jones Jr. circa 2004. He also beat Antonio Tarver that year in a split decision, earning the Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight title in the process. Since then Johnson has been involved in some great fights and some close decisions with the likes of Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud, and Carl Froch.

Now Johnson is focusing his attention to rising star Lucian Bute (29-0, 24 KO) for a November 5th bout in Canada. Bute’s IBF Super Middleweight title will be on the line. If the pattern of Johnson’s last six fights (alternating wins and losses) continues, the boxing world will have a new champion this fall. Whatever the outcome, Johnson deserves respect for continually fighting top notch opponents on their home turf.

Undoubtedly Glen Johnson will show up in great shape and ready to rumble. Does the Road Warrior have one last title-grabbing upset left in him?

Terry to Remove Tattoo if Mavs Lose

Posted on 30. May, 2011 by FSM Staff in General Sports, NBA

Terry to Remove Tattoo if Mavs Lose

On October 19th 2010, before the NBA season officially began, Jason Terry got together with his Dallas Mavericks teammate DeShawn Stevenson for a tattoo party of sorts. It was there that Terry got a tattoo of the Larry O’Brien trophy on one of his biceps, a gesture that was intended to motivate his team and remind them of the ultimate prize.

“It just symbolized the fact that we had a realistic shot of getting here,” an upbeat Terry told reporters. “If I didn’t think we had a chance, I wouldn’t have put it there.”

The Dallas Mavericks have been steam rolling through the NBA Playoffs, so the tattoo certainly did not hurt. Now the outspoken and superstitious Terry is at again. He announced to the world that he would have the tattoo removed if the Mavs fail to capture their first championship in the upcoming NBA Finals against the Miami Heat.

“I definitely know that it will hurt worse if I have to take this thing off than it did putting it on,” a brutally honest Terry said. He is embracing Dallas’ underdog status and is looking forward to avenging a 2006 NBA Finals loss to a then Dwayne Wade – Shaquille O’Neal led Miami Heat.

“Everybody knows that they’re picking Miami to win. We know that,” said Terry. “It really doesn’t matter to us. We know we’re very focused right now. We know what the job is and we know how we have to get it done.”

The NBA Finals start May 31st and can be seen on ABC.

Goodbye Tractor

Posted on 11. May, 2011 by FSM Staff in General Sports, NBA

Goodbye Tractor

It is with great sadness that FreeSportsMag is reporting on the death of former NBA player Robert “Tractor” Traylor. Traylor’s body was discovered earlier today at his apartment in Puerto Rico where he was recently living while playing for the Bayamon Cowboys. It is believed that the 34 year-old Traylor passed away as a result of a heart attack.

Many remember Tractor Taylor during his college days playing for Michigan. He also played for seven seasons in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets. Those who knew him described him as a gentle giant that cared for others.

Click here to learn more about Robert Traylor. R.I.P. Tractor.

NBA Jam Session Scores With Fans

Posted on 20. Feb, 2011 by FSM Staff in General Sports, NBA

NBA Jam Session Scores With Fans

David Stern’s well oiled basketball machine rolled in to Downtown Los Angeles this weekend for the annual NBA All Star game. The game brings with it three days of festivities and goodies for fans of all ages. FreeSportsMag was on hand this Saturday getting a taste of the All Star life at NBA Jam Session, a fan festival of sorts that runs from Friday to Monday during the All Star break.

Jam Session took place next to Staples at the enormous Los Angeles Convention Center. The masses were out in full force and a pleasant, playful vibe was in the air. Fans were made to feel special upon entrance in to the event getting to walk down a hardwood path surrounded by volunteers smacking thunder sticks and giant murals of NBA stars hanging on the walls.

Fans of hoop could spend the entire day at Jam Session without getting bored. Many activities and exhibits filled the convention center with the more popular attractions having the longer lines. Photo opportunities were plenty and there seemed to be an emphasis on hands-on interaction. Fans had a chance to take pictures with championship trophies and could even insert themselves in to the L.A. team photo.

Most youngsters enjoyed basketball challenges that were setup throughout the event. It was fun watching kids shoot, dribble, and have a good time. It was even better to watch grown adults try to slam dunk on eight foot rims. More avid fans of the game enjoyed historical exhibits and memorabilia showcases. Team USA had a booth and the Basketball Hall of Fame displayed some items that struck a nostalgic chord with many fans.

A mix of NBA legends and current players were sprinkled through the event at various times during the day. Dwayne Wade made an appearance at the T-Mobile booth while Robert Horry helped coach a youth team from China that was playing in an exhibition. Norm Nixon signed free autographs and every once and a while an official team mascot could be spotted stirring up some benign mayhem.

The NBA got it right with the Jam Session event. Catch it if you can when the All Star game rolls through your town.