While details of NBA legend Dennis Rodman’s recent trip to North Korea are mostly unknown and limited to quotes like “Kim Jong Un is just a kid” and “He’s a good guy” and “Please don’t hate me”, it seems that the 5-time NBA Champion still wants to put big ol’ media jerks like George Snuffleupagus in their places. As soon as Rodman wraps up this next lap dance, he’s heading back to North Korea in six months to broker peace on behalf of the United States. That is, if North Korea is still on the map by then.
But as much fun as it is to feel bad for a totally unprepared Rodman for being thrust into the political conversation like this, it’s important to remember that he’s not the first athlete to have taken a journey into the unknown. Back in 1995, the WCW and New Japan Pro Wrestling hosted “Collision in Korea” in my favorite city to pronounce, Pyongyang, and Ric Flair recalled that strange experience this week with WCNC in Charlotte.
“It’s a very volatile place. It is what it is – the people are nice, but the government, they don’t like us or the Japanese… We then got on a private North Korean jet, just [Muhammad] Ali and I. They took our passports and put me in one car and Ali in another, and I didn’t see him for two days. They were just saying how powerful they were, and they hoped that Ali and I would go back to America and tell them they’re there to be reckoned with.”
Flair, of course, went on to lose his match with Antonio Inoki, but the event allegedly holds the record for the largest attendance at a wrestling event ever, with more than 340,000 people in two days. But you also have to take into account that those numbers came from North Korea, home of Kim Jong Il’s perfect 18 score in a round of golf, and the WCW, which once let Jay Leno wrestle.
In retrospect, I’m glad that Flair came back with no problems, because I can’t even imagine the hell that Strom Thurmond would have raised if they had hurt his friend, the Nature Boy. At the very least, he would have sent in the Horsemen, and nobody f*cks with Arn Anderson.