The Rundown

Size matters: Eight physical mis-matches in sport

Sim Bhullar is attracting MASSIVE amounts of media attention ahead of the NCAA March Madness college basketball tournament. The New Mexico State University player is one of the BIG current talking points in college sports and is believed to have the potential to become a HUGE star in the NBA.

If the subtle hints in the above paragraph didn't work… basically, Sim is 7'5" and weighs almost 25 stone (340lbs).

But it's basketball, right? Surely even a towering behemoth such as the Indian-Canadian Bhullar doesn't quite stand out as much as if he were a badminton player, or something.

Well, judge for yourself:

Photo: NMStateSports

Either way, Bhullar's media attention compelled The Rundown to compile some of sport's biggest contrasts in size. Yes, basketball serves as the lynchpin of this case study in the joys of athletic diversity, but one or two less common instances also spring to mind…

1. Ricardo Blas Jr v Lasha Gujejiani, Olympic judo

Those of you who took in every last drop of the majesty of London 2012 may recall a few peculiar sights during the opening ceremony – one being the unmissable sight of Ricardo Blas Jr, a judoka from Guam.

Weighing 480lb (almost 35 stone!) on a 6'1" frame, Blas Jr may be the only thing about the island with a population of less than 160,000 that isn't tiny. But while his second-round efforts in London were the stuff of national pride, he made his Olympic debut four years earlier in Beijing.

There, he competed in an opening-round mis-match against diminutive Georgian Lasha Gujejiani. But while the size difference was astounding, the real mis-match was in ability as Gujejiani claimed an easy win against Blas Jr, who says he 'froze' in his first-ever Olympic opportunity:

2. Manute Bol v Muggsy Bogues, NBA

Right, onto basketball. And first up is the cover-shoot dream pairing of the 1980s.

The late Manute Bol stood 7'7", and along with Gheorghe Muresan was the NBA’s tallest-ever player and that size was never more obvious than when he was playing with or against 5'3" Muggsy Bogues.

Bogues was drafted to Washington Bullets (now Wizards) in 1987, at a time when Bol also played for the capital city franchise. It was an angle the sports media couldn't get enough of:

3. Yao Ming v Nate Robinson, NBA

The recently-retired Shanghai giant Yao Ming provided his fair share of more recent basketball mis-matches standing just an inch shorter than Bol and Muresan at 7'6. One picturesque example came when his Houston Rockets took on a New York Knicks side featuring current Chicago Bulls 5'9" point guard Nate Robinson:

4. The Great Khali v Rey Mysterio, WWE

While in many Rundown instances, the pre-determined world of professional wrestling requires an asterisk beside any possible entries, this 2006 pairing warranted inclusion. And if any list suits sports-entertainment, it’s this compilation of freakish contrast.

Mexican star Mysterio, at 5'5! tall, spent months portrayed as the WWE's underdog champion, faced with the biggest and most intimidating adversaries possible to provoke empathy from the ticket-buyers.

And when 7'1" athlete/actor Dalip Singh – who appeared in Hollywood films such as The Longest Yard and Get Smart – was signed by the company, they could not wait to present this visual to a global television audience:

5. Peter Crouch and Shaun Wright-Phillips, football

Former England international colleagues Crouch and Wright-Phillips are 6'7" and 5'5" respectively. While they have lined up against each other in numerous fixtures between their various clubs in the past, nothing sums up the contrast quite like their days teaming up for the Three Lions:

6. Will Jefferson and James Taylor, cricket

Now for some even less likely sports to experience the 'little and large' effect.

Will Jefferson was a rare sight in cricket, towering over many a peer and opponent at 6'9". He retired due to a chronic hip problem last year, but this shot of him playing alongside 5'6" James 'Titch' Taylor was a memorable sight:

7. Kei Nishikori v Ivo Karlovic, tennis

Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori is not a particularly short man. 5’10” is a very common height for a human male. And tennis is not exactly basketball when it comes to biological unpredictability.

However, this match against Croatian Ivo Karlovic, the ATP Tour’s tallest-ever player at 6'10", warrants inclusion:

8. Brian Moore and Tim Rodber, rugby union

Brian Moore claims he is taller than the 5'6" he was billed as being, but in this photograph post-1995 World Cup defeat to New Zealand, it's hard to deny the height chasm between he and England team-mate Tim Rodber, who stood at 6'6":


Which is your favourite case of 'little and large' in the sporting realm? Got any, even crazier, instances from past or present? Let us know in the comments section below...