American Gladiators returns to NBC tonight at 9 p.m., and I’ll be watching. The show was one of my favorites during its original run from 1989-1997. I don’t know if the revamped 2008 edition will provide enough entertainment to compare with the nostalgia of ESPN Classic reruns of the original episodes, but NBC did make things interesting by adding one of my childhood heroes to the mix. Hulk Hogan (along with Laila Ali) will serve as a commentator for the show.
Before the launch of a new generation of gladiators, I have to talk about the greatest competitor in the history of American Gladiators. Of course I’m talking about Wesley “Two Scoops” Berry.
The legend of Two Scoops is part Bo Jackson and part Paul Bunyan. In a day and age when you can Google map your way to much any place on the planet, tracking down information about Two Scoops is about as easy as finding the Fountain of Youth. The few YouTube clips of Two Scoops that I could find only hint at his speed, agility and overall athletic ability.
If Two Scoops didn’t invent the phrase “giving 110 percent,” he certainly was the only athlete who actually did it. He passed through the gauntlet like a pinball, whizzing past some gladiators, bouncing around others, and completed the event in record time. He could leap tall buildings in a single bound. No? OK, but how about a car?
The most amazing moment among Two Scoops’ championship run, which according to IMDB.com came during season 6 (1993-94), was his come-from-behind win in the Eliminator. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find footage of this event online. If anyone has it, I’m begging you to share it online.
I don’t remember the specifics, but somehow Two Scoops entered the final event trailing by a significant margin. But it did not matter. When he got to the infamous cargo net – an area where every competitor seemed to get caught up – Two Scoops scaled the web as if he had spun it himself. He left his competitor in the dust and won the event, and the season’s championship.
While I have no confirmed proof, several Internet message boards suggest that Two Scoops is currently incarcerated for armed robbery. If true, it’s a tragic twist in the story of a man who inspired kids to dig down deep to succeed. But like the rest of the Two Scoops story, it’s hard to access any details about his current whereabouts.
Perhaps NBC will give insight into the current status of the best performer in the history of American Gladiators during its broadcast later tonight. Or, perhaps the legend of Two Scoops will continue to live on in infamy in the minds and memories of a generation that was awestruck by his performances. As time passes by, the stories and personal accounts of Two Scoops’ heroic ascent to American Gladiators greatness will mean more than any YouTube clip ever could.
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