Playbook Q: Nick Cannon on Tebow, boxing
September, 7, 2012
By Carmen R. Thompson | ESPN The Magazine
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesCannon, who will be the ring announcer at the Ward-Dawson title fight, is handy in the gym himself.Editor's note: Welcome to the first installment of the "Playbook Q," in which we query the rooting interests of celebrities.
“America’s Got Talent” host Nick Cannon makes his ring-announcing debut tomorrow night with the unified super middleweight title on the line between 2004 Olympic gold medalist Andre “Son of God” Ward (25-0) and light heavyweight champ "Bad” Chad Dawson (31-1) at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.
Cannon, a longtime boxing fan, is on cloud nine for this gig, and will be hosting today's weigh-in. "My grandfather used to box and I dabbled in it as a kid," the entertainer says. "I had been following Andre Ward for quite some time, so when HBO said they were looking for an announcer, I was like, 'Yeah, for the Andre Ward fight, I would definitely do it.'"
Before he takes the ring, the San Diego native talked to Playbook about his favorite teams and sports memories.
1. What team would make you happiest if it won a championship?
I want to see the Jets do it but that doesn’t look likely. I've always been a Jets fan, never really was a Giants fan. In basketball, I’d love to see the Lakers and Kobe get one more. That would be nice. People always want to discount the Lakers every time they have an off season and I still think they're one of the best teams. Especially now. They're about to be a problem with Dwight Howard. But I also want to see OKC do their thing too. They're the young boys and they're playing fast basketball -- with Kevin Durant, they're just getting it in, Russell Westbrook and everybody. They know what they're doing. I think they’ll eventually get one, it's just right now they gotta get some time to grow. But they're the youngest, hottest team out there.
2. What is your most prized sports jersey?
I own tons of them! I've got an O.J. Simpson USC jersey. It's my most prized one because I'm dressed to kill! [Laughs.] I've always collected rare, old throwbacks, especially when they were really in style. I kept a lot of them, from my Magic Johnson Lakers jersey to my Dave Winfield Padres jersey. I'm from San Diego, so I've got all the old Padres jerseys. I used to wear them. I wore the O.J. Simpson jersey in one of my music videos for a song called “Feelin' Freaky” a few years back. I forget where I got it. I remember a lot of people were like, "No ... we don't make those, why would you even want one of those?" So I really had to search for a long time, but that's why I really wanted it because I knew no one would have it. But now it's just sports memorabilia.
3. If your life depended on your performance in a competitive sport, which would you choose?
Definitely boxing. Absolutely I could save my life boxing. I'm quick, my left jab is serious, and I've got a mean right hand. People never see my right hand coming. That's just kind of how I am as a person: I like to be underestimated, to surprise people.
4. Who was your childhood sports idol?
Bo Jackson. I was going to say Michael Jordan, but everybody says Michael Jordan. I liked Bo Jackson because he played more than one sport. I remember playing Little League and Pop Warner football, and I was like, 'Yo, I'm going to keep playing both. I'm going to be like Bo!'
5. Which modern athlete do you most despise?
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty ImagesJets fan Nick Cannon is none too pleased with QBs Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow at this point.
I can't really think of anybody that I despise in the game. But love to hate? Tim Tebow. That's why I'm upset as a Jets fan, because I'm not a believer yet! I want a real quarterback! Yeah, we have Mark Sanchez, but look at where that has gotten us. When they brought in Tim Tebow, I was like, "What is going on?" It has to be more than the celebrity and the gimmick. I need somebody to get out there and run the team. I mean, he's great, and I appreciate everything that he has done representing spirituality, but get out there and run the team.
6. What's your best sports memory, either as a fan or a participant?
My best sports memory is probably when I was on my way to the Junior Olympics for martial arts, me and my younger brothers, in taekwondo. I remember just racking up all these trophies and medals, but I didn't end up making it because I lost at the very end. For a minute I thought I was going to be, like, an Olympic martial artist. I was 13 and I had been doing taekwondo since I was 5. My dad was always into martial arts and kept me and my brothers in it as well. It's a good thing too, because it established discipline. But losing kind of broke my heart. So I chilled after that for a while and didn't get back into martial arts until I started boxing when I was an adult. I participate a little bit in mixed martial arts, for a workout, but I don't really follow the sport. I'm still a boxing head more than anything.