Since Greek and Roman times, the archetype of an athlete’s body has been pretty consistent.
There’s not much difference between say, the 1st century B.C. “Discus Thrower,” below and the majority of modern Olympians, for example.
Of course, specific sports require certain body types. Consider the difference in appearances between a power lifter and a marathon runner. But, this said, in environments where the majority of players look relatively homogenous, there are some…how do we say…sizable outliers.
This isn’t an exercise in fat-shaming. Rather, it’s small sample of some heftier gentlemen who have enjoyed success in professional sports in recent memory.
Without further ado, then, here are seven plus-size athletes who have performed admirably in professional sports.
William “Refrigerator” Perry
Ah, the Fridge. Thanks to his play for the Super Bowl champion 1986 Chicago Bears and an iconic nickname, Perry was a household name in the 80s. His unconfirmed playing weight was an incredible 382 pounds, and when Bears’ coach Mike Ditka inserted Perry as a running back in several goal-line situations, he became a cult phenomenon and a marketing sensation shortly thereafter.
Carsten Charles Sabathia, Jr. is a 6’7’’ man who has pitched at a weight in excess of 300 pounds. C.C. has gone up and down the scale since making it to the majors in 2001. He won the 2007 A.L. Cy Young award and lead the league in wins in 2010 and 2011. Far from adversely affecting his performance, many think Sabathia pitches better at a heavier weight.
Long John Daly. The 1991 PGA champion became an overnight sensation and a welcome contrast to the rash of bland blue bloods and grizzled grinders on the PGA Tour. Years of heavy drinking and the absence of any sort of a commitment to conditioning have seen Daly gain and lose weight. During his detox from alcohol and recovery from surgery in 2010, JD was under 200 pounds. In the years since, however, he’s bulked back up.
A first-round draft pick in 1992, Oliver Miller excelled early in his career with the Phoenix Suns. 6’9’’, 320 pounds, Miller bounced around the league, but his heft started to take its toll, limiting his mobility and stamina. “The Big O” spent the last few years of his career overseas, where he was famously dismissed from one team for arriving late to practice…with a McDonald’s bag in hand. He ballooned to more than 300 pounds.
A forerunner to the aforementioned C.C. Sabathia, David Wells was the original Yankees pitcher who, well, looked more likely to be downing a pitcher. The 250-pound Wells, whose career spanned 20 seasons, most famously threw a perfect game in 1998 against the Minnesota Twins. “Boomer” won nearly 250 games in his career and pitched until he was 44. Well above-average stuff from a relatively average looking man.