Thursday, June 28, 2007

No Beef for Koby this Year

The competitive world of eating is already gnawing on this morsel of tasty news: The hot dog eating champion isn’t feeling all that hot.

Takeru Kobayashi of Japan, the six-time champion of the annual Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, could possibly be sidelined for next week's event due to an arthritic jaw.Last year, the 165-pound Kobayashi won his sixth straight Yellow Mustard Belt at the Independence Day competition in Coney Island, N.Y., by devouring a then-world record 53 3/4 frankfurters in 12 minutes.

That mark was surpassed earlier this month by Joey Chestnut of San Jose, Calif., who gobbled up 59 1/2 hot dogs and buns at the Southwest Regional Hot Dog Eating Championship at the Arizona Mills Mall in suburban Tempe, Ariz., -- one of the qualifying events for Coney Island.Chestnut almost defeated Kobayashi last year, gobbling down 52 hot dogs and buns at the contest, which is sponsored by Nathan's Famous Inc.
Chestnut must feel the same way that NFL QB Steve Young felt when he learned that Joe Montana, the 49ers first-stringer, was injured, allowing Young to seize his moment in the sun. Chestnut has been eating in the shadow of Kobayashi for a long time, and he has to be ecstatic over the fact that now he will finally get a chance to assume his spot in the winner’s circle atop competitive eating’s center stage.
"Already I can't open my jaws more than just a little bit," Kobayashi wrote. "There's no pain only if I open my mouth about enough for one finger. More than that is painful and I can't open it."A specialist diagnosed him with arthritis of the jaw, he wrote."To tell the truth, I'm desperate about healing completely before the July 4 contest," he said, adding that he had begun receiving treatment at a hospital and from a chiropractor.

On Tuesday, his United Food Fighters Organization said on their Web site that Kobayashi has found a doctor he can trust and was "creating an environment in which he can dedicate himself to healing.""The contest is coming up soon, and we'd happy if everyone kept him in their thoughts," the group wrote.

No comments: