For the fourth consecutive Independence Day, Joey Chestnut will defend his Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Championship at Coney Island. And, for the second year in a row, he will not have to face his most dangerous competitor, six-time champion, Takeru Kobayashi.
Kobayashi, who essentially put the world of competitive eating on the map several years ago with his amazing hot dog eating talent, was arrested following the completion of last year's competition for charges including trespassing and obstruction when he jumped onto the stage at Nathan's, even though he had been banned from competitive eating for refusing to sign his contract.
It’s a sad day for all of us who are fans of this sacred and time honored competition. Watching Chestnut and Kobayashi throw down at Nathan's had become my generation's Ali-Frazier. You never knew who was going to come away with the title, but you knew it was going to come right down to the wire, and possibly even head to overtime like in 2008. Even though Kobayashi won six in a row from 2001-06 and Chestnut has nearly matched him with four straight beginning in 2007, the two Goliaths are always neck and neck. Since Kobayashi's last title in '06, whenever both have competed, they have never finished more than four hot dogs apart. That's drama, folks.
Last year, when Kobayashi was first barred from competing, the competition lacked the sizzle to which we had grown accustomed. Chestnut ran away with the title, winning by nine hot dogs over fellow American Tim "Eater-X" Janus. And while Tim is a very talented competitive eater, he's no Kobayashi.
For his part, Chestnut, the Pride of Brooklyn, has been adamant that he would prefer Kobayashi compete. He says that he is at his best when The Tsunami is next to him on the podium, driving him to be better and faster.
Here's hoping that we will soon return to the Glory Days of the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Competition. I like seeing the hometown boy win, but it's definitely better television when he does so against his fiercest rival.
I mean, let's be honest. Who would want to see Ali beat up on someone other than Joe Frazier?