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The Super Bowl has become a cultural phenomenon that far outreaches sports fans. It is now one of the premiere advertising moments of the year and a televising event. The world of comic books doesn’t usually have a lot to do with professional sports. However, in the history of comics, there have been many types of people who have become superheroes (and supervillains), including some superhero athletes. Since athletes and superheroes have some overlap (physical abilities, colorful outfits, popular adulation, and nicknames), it makes sense to occasionally link the two worlds. On Sunday, Mike Miersen looked at five comic book football playing characters, so let’s check out the other sports with the Top 5 Superhero Athletes, in order of their athletic accomplishments:
You may know Edwin Jarvis as the Avengers’ longtime butler and loyal servant. However, like many others on this list, he was at one time a boxer. During his younger years, Jarvis was a member of the Royal Air Force (even though Jarvis is American by birth, he left the U.S. to fight for England during World War II). During his years in the military, he was the boxing champion of the Royal Air Force. Although Jarvis generally stays out of the action in his later years, he has on occasion had to use his old boxing skills while in service of the Avengers.
It might seem strange to think of Nick Fury, superspy and former head of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a superhero athlete, but Fury did get heavily involved in boxing before his days leading the Howlin’ Commandos. He also continued to box recreationally and as a form of training. Of course, Fury did later become the premiere spy in the Marvel Universe. With the prominence of the Samuel Jackson/Ultimate version of Nick Fury, it will be interesting to see if 616 Nick Fury makes it through Secret Wars.
Carl “Crusher” Creel was a professional boxer before turning to the life of crime. He once fought a match against “Battlin’” Jack Murdock, the father of Daredevil Matt Murdock. After going to prison for assault, Creel was granted a special power by Loki. He was now able to make his body mimic the molecular structure of any substance that he touched, thereby “absorbing” its physical qualities. He took the name Absorbing Man and started brandishing his trademark ball-and-chain. Crusher Creel usually uses hand-to-hand combat so his boxing skills frequently get displayed.
In the decade prior to the “New 52” reboot, the character Black Lightning was becoming a much more prominent figure, taking a role as a key member of the Justice League of America. Though stories featuring Black Lightning made frequent use of his intelligence and bravery, it is less well known that college professor Jefferson Pierce (Lightning’s alter ego) was a former two-time Olympic athlete and even won a gold medal in the Decathlon. Due to the diverse skill set employed in the Decathlon, winners of this Olympic event are often considered the “world’s greatest athlete.” That’s quite a resume for a guy who also possesses the power to control electricity.
Ted Grant is probably the most prominent of all boxers in comics, as he was the former boxing heavyweight champion. He also became the hero known as Wildcat when he was accused a crime he did not commit. He joined the original superhero team, the Justice Society of America, and has been one of the team’s most consistent and prominent members, even as the team’s origin and timeline was revamped over the decades. He became a mentor and trainer to many other heroes, most notably Black Canary. Although Wildcat has not had much role in the New 52, he has appeared on the current season of Arrow TV show. In the pre-New 52 comics, Ted Grant was often discussed like one of the all-time great boxers, so his athletic career may be the most significant of any superhero athlete.
Tell me what you think – do you have other favorite superhero athletes who you think should be on this list? Leave a comment!