WHAT'S COOL IN JAPAN
A two-meter giant of a man weighing 170 kilograms and known as "The Beast" has captured the imagination of boys across Japan. Bob Sapp, a 28-year-old martial arts fighter from the United States, has a somewhat intimidating face and gigantic body that give him a frightening appearance. But children who love martial arts are fascinated by him and say, "Those muscles - he's superhuman!" And even kids who aren't crazy about martial arts adore him. Why? The secret lies in his curious character.
Ever since he first came to Japan in April 2002, Sapp has demonstrated his incredible strength at many mixed-martial-arts tournaments, such as K-1 and Pride. Drawing more on muscle than on technique, he has accomplished many feats in the short time since he made his debut as a wrestler, including beating a current champion.
Once "The Beast" steps out of the ring, though, he takes on a very different persona. Since November 2002, Sapp has been appearing on Japanese television more or less every day - but not necessarily on martial arts programs. He's now a regular sight on comedy variety shows. His big, round eyes, exaggerated actions, expressive face, sense of humor, and well-timed remarks that make viewers almost forget the presence of an interpreter all add to his popularity on TV. Sapp was asked to appear on more than 200 shows during the winter holidays between December 2002 and January 2003, and he's been offered starring roles in over 30 TV commercials.
Thanks to his charming persona, Sapp has fans asking for autographs wherever he goes. Being a kind and polite person, he always responds gladly. It is this gap between his beastly and gentlemanly sides that makes him such a popular figure. "He's not just strong, he's intelligent, too"; "He's lots of fun, so I watch every show he appears in"; and "He's my hero - I love him!" are some of the things that kids have to say about him.
Sapp started American football when he was 10 years old. He played on the football team at the University of Washington, and after graduating from college he joined the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. But only three years later, a leg injury forced him to end his football career. His next step was to become a pro wrestler with the ring name of "The Beast." This did not last long either, though, because the wrestling organization to which he belonged failed. Sapp's adult years in the United States were a series of professional dead ends. So he's giving his very best to ensure success in his newfound career in Japan.
Bob Sapp also sings rap. He once danced and sang a self-composed rap song on TV, and a record company whose staff saw this encouraged him to debut as a singer. His first CD single, "Sapp Time," was released on March 5. The song is sure to bring even more people into the circle of Bob Sapp fans.