Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Kobayashi to Defend Hot Dog Eating Crown

Today, six time world champion Takeru Kobayashi will defend his hot dog eating crown against up and coming star and world record holder Joey Chestnut. The Japan versus America story line here rivals that of the 1980 Miracle on Ice gold medal hockey game between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, or Rocky versus Drago in Rocky IV.

The eyes of the world have been on Kobayashi's jaw in recent days. It's like Tiger Woods tearing his rotator cuff, or LeBron James blowing out his knee. Kobayashi received a chilling diagnosis: Jaw pain that limits how far he can open his mouth. The disclosure set stomachs rumbling throughout the dog-eat-dog world of competitive eating in the days before the annual Independence Day chowdown.

Kobayashi dismissed speculation that his jaw ailment could be a ploy against his main rival at the Nathan's hot dog eating championship. "That's not even funny," the 29-year-old Japanese eating machine said. "I don't even have time to think about that." After his disclosure this week that he has a creaky jaw and he is getting treatment, some, including ESPN host Tony Kornheiser, suggested that Kobayashi was trying to lull American Joey Chestnut into complacency.

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