Hagler vs. Hearns. Russell vs. Chamberlain. Palmer vs. Nicklaus. Nas vs. Jay-Z.
With all due respect to the above rivalries, the hot dog eating battles between Takeru Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut are in this writer’s observation, the most compelling duels in the history of two guys eating an insane amount of food.
Chestnut shattered Kobayashi’s record of 53 3/4ths hot dogs consumed in 12 minutes yesterday, with a mind-blowing 59 1/2 at the Southwest Regional Hot Dog Eating Championships. Though Chestnut has already demonstrated his prowess at the Wing Bowl (above), his successful passing of Kobayashi — perhaps the most prodigious eater this side of John Kruk — could well herald a new dawn for the American competitive eating movement.
Though Kobayashi will have his shot at redemption on July 4 on Coney Island, I don’t think most of the established sports media have truly grasped how big Chestnut’s achievement is. For today at least, he is Buster Douglas, Mike Eruzione and Bobby Fischer all rolled into one.