It’s that time of year when sporting heroes come to the fore again. Lewis Hamilton continues his dominance of Formula One, Rafa Nadal wins his 12th French Open title – aged just 33!! – and England’s Women’s Football team leads its groups in the initial stages of the World Cup… I could go on.
Along with music, sport serves a vital role of bringing all sorts of disparate people together in a common cause – something we need now more than ever – and it is not always the obvious candidates who become heroes. Look at how the Mexican underdog Andy Ruiz Junior, trolled for appearing overweight and flabby, took out Anthony Joshua in the boxing ring at the beginning of the month.
Sport is not just about achievement and titles; above all, it is about character. That’s why Babe Ruth’s baseball jersey sold for $5.6 million at auction on June 15, to become the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia in history, breaking the previous record, which was also for a Ruth jersey.
Known to have survived largely on hot dogs and beer, Ruth was a big man but, along with his penchant for cigars, he could not have been in the best shape and, indeed, he died of cancer aged 53. This didn’t stop him from recording 714 home runs across 22 seasons, winning seven World Series.
The greatest slugger of them all remains a hero, transcending his sport to enter America’s national conscience as a cultural icon.