TMS Man of the Year: Manute Bol (Part 3)

January 04, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

The Entertainer:

In 1996 rheumatism forced Manute into an early retirement. He was now at a crucial crossroads in his life. You see, Manute had donated a large portion of his NBA earnings to help various causes in his home country of Sudan and now stood to take a significant salary decrease. Alas, there will still mouths to feed and causes to be supported so Manute needed to find work.

Despite his success and popularity stateside, it remained difficult for a 7'7 African-American male to find good work in Sudan. Farming had never much interested Manute, what with the long hours and low pay leaving precious little time to instigate widespread change. After many sleepless nights and conversations with God, Manute decided to take the next logical step in life: He would become a boxer.

In 2002 Manute Bol made his boxing debut on Fox Television versus William 'The Refrigerator' Perry. Providing further evidence that boxing is indeed rigged, Manute won in the third round. In return, Fox broadcast the number of his charity before the fight. There are no statistics to show whether or not this garnered any money for the foundation.

Later that year Bol signed a one-day contract with the Indianapolis Ice to raise more money for Sudan. Manute Bol cannot skate.

Finally, in one last publicity stunt to garner money for his war-ravaged country and at the same time make white people laugh, Manute Bol become a horse jockey. He is a licensed horse jockey in the state of Indiana, and owns a nifty, tailor-made green jockey uniform. Manute Bol has to this day never rode a horse.

During his post-NBA career of entertaining the unwashed masses, Manute has encountered several roadblocks. In 2001, after refusing to convert to Islam, he was detained in Sudan and held against his will by the Islamic government, who refused to grant him an exit visa. The government briefly thought of trying to starve Manute as punishment, but soon realized that such tactics would be both inhumane and ineffective in this post 9/11 society. Finally, the US government, led by Jewish senator Joe Lieberman, was able to bring Manute back to the US.

Then, in June of 2004, Bol was involved in a horrific car accident. One can imagine that it was an act of God that Manute survived. A strong gust of wind has been known to put Manute in peril, much less a high-speed collision involving over 7000 pounds of unforgiving metal. He suffered three broken vertebrae in his neck and temporary loss of movement in his hands.

Miraculously, Manute made a full recovery from his injuries, though it has made it more difficult for him to raise money for Sudan. His boxing career has been put on hold. This has put the focus squarely on his family life. Manute has a wife and six children and lives in Hartford, Connecticut, where he is by far the tallest man in town. His 16 year-old son is 6'7 and Manute hopes that one day he can follow in his proud and ample footsteps and carry on the family name.

Manute Bol can be found from time to time organizing goodwill events throughout the country and making charitable appearances. If you see him, shake his hand and tell him how much his work means to everyone. But please, don't squeeze too hard, as his hands are still a bit weak from the accident.

To view a montage of Manute's on the court work set to inspirational hip-hop, click here.

To order Manute's autobiography, Manute: The Center of Two Worlds, click here.