Mike Wise wrote wonderfully about Marcin Gortat’s father’s boxing career in a column about the Wizards big man earlier this season. Excerpt:
His father, Janusz Gortat, was a bronze medalist light-heavyweight boxer at the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games. He actually lost to Leon Spinks in 1976 and beat the future heavyweight champion at the world championships a year later.
When Marcin came home six years ago to show his father he had gotten a tattoo of him on his left pectoral muscle, with ’72 and ’76 inked alongside the portrait, Janusz predictably responded, “Have you lost your mind?”
“That’s my dad,” he says. “One time I came home from German league after winning championship. He said, ‘Those four medals you have I won when I was 18 years old. I can weigh my medals with kilograms and pounds they weigh so much.’ So one day I make my counter move. I show him my first check, it was like $300,000. ‘In this check, I will make more than you make your entire life, Dad. Hah.’ ”
Gortat talked again about his dad’s Olympic boxing career during an interview with ESPN 980’s The Sports Fix on Wednesday. Which led me to do some idle Web searching, which led to this. “Spunky Spinks Spanks Gortat” is about as high art as photo captions can get.
In case you’re a fight fan, here’s the New York Times’s write-up from ’76:
The third Polish fighter beaten tonight by an American was Janusz Gortat in the light-heavyweight class. Leon Spinks, Mike’s 23-year-old brother, battered Gortat with left hooks in the first round and never let up. He stunned his opponent for a mandatory eight-count late in the round.
Between the barrages, when the referee would warn him for whatever Olympic referees think they’re reprimanding fighters about, Spinks would bow politely from the waist. Then he’d tear into Gortat again.
Here’s a briefer version from The Post’s Paul Attner:
Mike’s big brother Leon, the most powerful puncher on the U.S. squad, cuffed around Janusz Gortat of Poland for three rounds to easily capture the judges’ fancy. He had the Pole in trouble in the first round, stopping him for a mandatory eight-count, but he never could cleanly knock him off his feet.
Anyhow, later in the ESPN 980 interview, Kevin Sheehan asked Gortat about the team’s attitude entering Game 2 against the Pacers.
“Each one of us got to find the motivation different way,” Gortat said. “Some people think we’re down 0-1, some people think it’s the first game, some people think this is the last game of the season or the last game of their life. Each one of us got to find the motivation for themselves. I look at these games like I’m playing the last game of my life. I just want to make sure I’m gonna fight for my respect, fight for my name and fight for my team. That’s all.”
That’s not bad.