Really big in Japan
Bob Sapp is a big man. Outside of sumo wrestling, he's probably the most popular big man in Japan. A quick Google and I've learned that he stands in at 6'3" and 350 lbs., a former U.S. football player who switched over to the WCW and is now fighting in the Mixed Martial Art K-1 tournaments in Japan. He has a record of 3-1, he's bald and black and an admitted beginner in MMAs, and he goes by the sobriquet of "The Beast". And I just don't get the man. He's come to Japan to do what most gaijin do here: make ridiculous amounts of cash. We can call it whatever we like, but let's face it: unless you speak fluent Japanese and are trying to actually live as a Japanese, at least part of you is here to make money. And your employer will get into some sort of governmental or tax trouble if you don't. Sapp is here to make cash, and a cursory glance seems to indicate that the man is doing okay in the MMAs despite a busted fist. But when he's not fighting or training, he's making a frickin ass out of himself. What he does is play up the stereotype of the uncontrollable African monster. He engages in various food-stuffing contests and other ridiculous State Fair-type antics - putting the mouth of an empty plastic bottle in his mouth and then seeing who can crush said bottle the fastest by inhaling, f'r example - and generally doing his best to make Steppin Fetchit look like Martin Luther King, Jr. He's always accompanied by several Japanese, who play a timid and reserved role, which only serves to accentuate the "beast" that he plays. His routine is hits upon another major trend in Japan, the popularity of stateside "urban" style. Anything African-American is big here, to the point where trendy teens - Japanese teens, mind you, some with afro'd hair - are wearing shirts that say "Black and Beautiful." Sapp is definitely capitalizing on what's popular, and it's hard to argue with money. But the worst part is, some of Sapp's "Beast" antics are absolutely drop-dead funny slapstick.