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15 Sets of Athletic Twins

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There may be plenty of sibling athletes, but it's twice as nice for these 15 pairs of twins from the world of sports.

1. Mike and Marlin McKeever

The University of Southern California's football team recruited the McKeever twins—Mike and Marlin—in the late 1950s in the hope that their toughness would help revitalize the program. With Marlin playing defensive end (among other positions) and Mike at guard, the brothers became the first twins to earn All-American status and even made the cover of Sports Illustrated (which called them "the twin holy terrors of Los Angeles' Mount Carmel High School"). Mike would suffer a head injury that derailed his shot at the pros, but Marlin was selected in the first round of the NFL draft and spent 13 years in the league. Off the field, the twins also delved into acting, playing the Siamese cyclops twins in The Three Stooges Meet Hercules.

2. Paul and Morgan Hamm

The Hamm twins were big hits for the U.S. gymnastics team at the 2004 Summer Olympics, with Paul winning the gold medal in the all-around and both brothers helping the U.S. team to a silver medal finish. The two took some time off after the 2004 games, and ultimately did not compete in 2008. But there's also a persistent question about the brothers: nobody's clear on whether they're actually fraternal or identical twins. Slate's Josh Levin broke down the mystery in 2004.

3. Alvin and Calvin Harrison

In the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Alvin and Calvin became the first twins to win gold medals on the same relay team, running the first (Alvin) and third (Calvin) legs of the United States' 4x400 meter team. Unfortunately, things went south after that. Both brothers were accused of using banned substances, and their gold medals were eventually stripped when a teammate copped to doping. Alvin accepted a four-year suspension and transferred his allegiance to the Dominican Republic, where he competed after his ban ended. But Calvin poured his life savings into fighting the doping charge before losing his job as a personal trainer in the recession, and ended up homeless in San Diego.

4. Rich and Ron Sutter

Rich and Ron are just two members of the prolific Sutter family, which sent six brothers to the NHL (a seventh had a tryout, but opted out of the sport). Ron was the highest drafted of the six, going fourth overall to the Philadelphia Flyers in 1982, while Rich went 10th overall to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The two ended up as teammates on the Flyers for three seasons, then spent three more campaigns together with the St. Louis Blues. The hockey gene seems to have carried on—two Sutter men in the next generation have played in the NHL, a third was drafted, and two more are in the Western Hockey League.

5. Jose and Ozzie Canseco

Jose Canseco was one of the best hitters of all time, hitting 462 home runs in a career that included an MVP season and four Silver Slugger awards. Of course, steroids may have had something to do with that—he owned up to using them in 2005 and has since stated that many major leaguers use performance-enhancing drugs. People won't accuse his twin brother Ozzie of using steroids—he played just 24 games in the major leagues (including one spell with his brother in Oakland) and never hit a single home run. Now Ozzie manages the Edinburg Roadrunners in the United League.

6. The Steben Twins

Karyne and Sarah Steben have built long careers as gymnasts and entertainers, working for 17 years in Cirque du Soleil and even playing a pair of conjoined twins on HBO's Carnivale. Their specialty is the trapeze, where they innovated the feet-to-feet catching technique. They've credited their twin connection with helping them on the trapeze, saying that it actually helps them understand each other and get in sync.

7. Henrik and Daniel Sedin

Before entering the 1999 NHL draft, the Sedin twins looked for ways to end up on the same team. Why were they so bent on staying together? As Vancouver Canucks scout Thomas Gradin said, "They're good enough to play with anyone, but separately their capacity might decrease by 10 or 15 percent." The Canucks were able to make a series of trades to end up with the second and third overall picks that netted them both twins, who have already led the team to a pair of Stanley Cup appearances.

8. Coco and Kelly Miller

The twin basketball stars were standouts at the University of Georgia, even jointly winning the James E. Sullivan Award in 1999 for the nation's top amateur athlete—the first time the award went to multiple recipients. After graduating with biology degrees, the Miller sisters landed in the WNBA, with Kelly going to the Charlotte Sting and Coco joining the Washington Mystics. They've bounced around teams, even spending time as teammates with the Atlanta Dream in 2010.

9. The Usos

The Samoan brothers Jimmy and Jey Uso made their WWE debut with their manager Tamina in 2010, attacking the Hart Dynasty, and haven't let up since. They're far from the only twin team on the WWE circuit, which includes pairings like the Bella Twins, Kent and Keith Cole, The Headhunters, and Gymini.

10. Hiromi and Takami Ominami

Japanese twin runners Hiromi and Takami Ominami have each won a handful of races, each placing first in a pair of marathons. But perhaps their most interesting record is their status as the fastest marathoning sisters of all time.

11. Rex and Rob Ryan

The twin sons of legendary NFL coach and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan have found success in the family business. Rex is the head coach of the New York Jets, while Rob is currently the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints. The two have squared off a number of times, but Rex holds the clear upper hand, with his teams winning all five matchups against Rob's defense (most recently on Nov. 3 when the Jets scored a 26-20 upset of the Saints). Rex even successfully trolled his brother by dressing up like him before a 2010 game between the Jets and Rob's Cleveland Browns.

12. Bob and Mike Bryan

As mirror twins (one is right-handed, the other left), tennis's Bryan brothers are an unusual doubles team. That may be a factor in their unprecedented success: they've won more games, tournaments, and Grand Slams than any other doubles pairing, and have held the top spot in the world doubles rankings for 344 weeks. As children, they were actually barred from ever playing each other in competitive matches and if they were ever paired up in a tournament bracket, their parents had them alternate forfeits.

13. Heather and Heidi Burge

The Burge twins—both 6'5"—made waves at the University of Virginia by leading the team to three straight Final Four appearances between 1990 and 1992. The two then went on to play in the WNBA, Heidi for the Los Angeles Sparks and the Washington Mystics and Heather for a year with the Sacramento Monarchs. The twins' life story was celebrated in the Disney Channel movie Double Teamed, which erroneously shows the two facing off against each other in the WNBA. In truth, they were never in the league at the same time.

14. Ronde and Tiki Barber

After successful stints at the University of Virginia, running back Tiki Barber and cornerback Ronde Barber were each selected in the 1997 NFL Draft. Tiki would become the New York Giants' all-time rushing leader over a 10-year career, while Ronde became an all-pro defensive back and, among other accomplishments, the only NFL player in history with at least 40 interceptions and 20 sacks. Since retiring, the two have co-authored eight children's books and have entered the media world. Ronde is an analyst with Fox Sports 1, while TIki's eclectic TV career has included a stint on Today.

15. Herbert and Wilfred Baddeley

As doubles partners, Herbert and Wilfred Baddeley made an intimidating pair on the tennis court. They won the Wimbledon doubles championship four times between 1891 and 1896. Wilfred also won three singles championships at Wimbledon before both brothers retired from the sport to focus on legal careers.

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9 Things You Might Not Know About 'Macho Man' Randy Savage
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Even by the standards of pro wrestling and its exaggerated personalities, there’s never been anyone quite like Randy “Macho Man” Savage (1952-2011). A staple of WWE and WCW programming in the 1980s and 1990s, Savage’s bulging neck veins, hoarse voice, and inventive gesticulations made him a star. Check out some facts in honor of what would’ve been Savage’s 65th birthday.

1. HE WAS ORIGINALLY A PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER.

Born Randall Poffo in Columbus, Ohio, Savage’s father, Angelo Poffo, was a notable pro wrestler in the 1950s, sometimes wrestling under a mask with a dollar sign on it as “The Masked Miser.” If that was considered the family business, Savage initially strayed from it, pursuing his love of baseball into a spot on the St. Louis Cardinals farm team as a catcher directly out of high school. Savage played nearly 300 minor league games over four seasons. After failing to make the majors, he decided to follow his father into wrestling.

2. A HAWAIIAN WRESTLER INSPIRED HIS FAMOUS TAGLINE.

In 1967, a then-15-year-old Savage accompanied his father to a wrestling event in Hawaii. There, he saw island grappler King Curtis Iaukea deliver a “promo,” or appeal for viewers to watch him in a forthcoming match. Iaukea spoke in a whisper before bellowing, punctuating his sentences with, “Ohhh, yeah!” That peculiar speech pattern stuck with Savage, who adopted it when he began his career in the ring.

3. HIS MOM GAVE HIM THE “MACHO MAN” NICKNAME.


By John McKeon from Lawrence, KS, United States - Randy "Macho Man" Savage, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

According to Savage, his wrestling nickname didn’t come from the Village People song but from an article his mother, Judy, had read in Reader’s Digest announcing that “macho man” was going to be a hot term in the coming years. She mailed it to Savage along with a list of other possible names. Even though neither one seemed to know what a “macho man” was, Savage liked the sound of it. His stage name, Savage, came from Georgia promoter Ole Anderson, who thought Savage’s grappling style was ferocious.

4. HE SCARED OTHER WRESTLERS.

In the early 1980s, Savage’s father had started promoting his own regional shows in the Lexington, Kentucky area. To draw publicity, Savage and the other wrestlers would sometimes show up to rival shows threatening grapplers and offering up wagers that they could beat them up in a real fight. Once, a Memphis wrestler named Bill Dundee pulled a gun on Savage, who allegedly took it away from him and beat him with it. After his father’s promotion closed up, Savage landed in the WWF (now WWE), giving him a national platform.

5. JAKE THE SNAKE’S PYTHON PUT HIM IN THE HOSPITAL.

One of Savage’s recurring feuds in the WWE was with Jake “The Snake” Roberts, a lanky wrestler who carried a python into the ring with him and allowed the reptile to “attack” his opponents. To intensify their rivalry, Savage agreed to allow Roberts’s snake to bite him on the arm during a television taping after being assured it was devenomized. Five days later, Savage was in the hospital with a 104-degree fever. Savage lived, but the snake didn’t; it died just a few days later. “He was devenomized, but maybe I wasn’t,” Savage told IGN in 2004. 

6. HE PLANNED HIS MATCHES DOWN TO THE SECOND.

While outcomes may be planned backstage, the choreography of pro wrestling is left largely up to the participants, who either talk it over prior to going out or call their moves while in the ring. For a 1987 match with Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III, Savage wanted everything to be absolutely perfect.

“We both had those yellow legal tablets, and we started making notes,” Steamboat told Sports Illustrated in 2015. “Randy would have his set of notes and I would have mine. Then we got everything addressed—number 1, number 2, number 3—and we went up to number 157. Randy would say, ‘OK, here is up to spot 90, now you tell me the rest.’ I would have to go through the rest, then I would quiz him. I’d never planned out a match that way, so it was very stressful to remember everything.” The effort was worth it: Their match is considered by many fans to be among the greatest of all time.

7. HIS MARRIAGE TO MISS ELIZABETH CAUSED PROBLEMS IN THE LOCKER ROOM.

Savage’s “valet” in the WWE was Miss Elizabeth, a fixture of his corner during most of his career in the 1980s. Although they had an onscreen wedding in 1991, they had been married in real life back in 1984. According to several wrestlers, Savage was jealously guarded with his wife, whom he kept in their own locker room. Savage would also confront wrestlers he believed to have been hitting on her. The strain of working and traveling together was said to have contributed to their (real) divorce in 1991.

8. HE CUT A RAP ALBUM DISSING HULK HOGAN.

In 2003, with his best years in the ring behind him, Savage decided to pursue a new career in rap music. Be a Man featured 13 rap songs, including one that eulogized his late friend, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig. But the performance that got the most mainstream attention was the title track, which dissed wrestling star Hulk Hogan. The two had apparently gotten into a rivalry after Hogan made some disparaging comments about Savage on a Tampa, Florida radio show. Whether the sentiment was real or staged, it didn’t do much to help sales: Be a Man moved just 3000 copies.

9. HE MIGHT GET A STATUE IN HIS HOMETOWN.

In 2016, fans circulated a petition to get Savage his own statue in Columbus, Ohio. The initiative was inspired by the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger has a monument in Columbus, and wrestling fans argue that Savage should get equal time. The mayor has yet to issue a response. In the meantime, a 20-inch-tall resin statue of Savage was released by McFarlane Toys in 2014.

See Also: 10 Larger-Than-Life Facts About Andre the Giant

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10 Secrets of Ski Instructors
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If you’ve spent this fall wearing shorts and sandals, you’re not alone: Temperatures have been warmer than average across the United States. But no matter how warm it is where you are, there’s still snow (and skiing) in the forecast somewhere. Before you hit the slopes this winter, check out these on-the-job secrets of ski instructors, from why they love bad weather to what they do during the summer.

1. THEY LOVE BAD WEATHER.

No one can control the weather, but ski instructors cross their fingers for frosty temperatures and heavy snowfall. “Ski instructors love cold, appalling winter weather because it so often results in big snowfalls and the skier's dream—velvety powder snow,” says Chalky White, a ski instructor and the author of The 7 Secrets of Skiing.

But big snowfalls don’t always happen, so ski instructors try to make the best of whatever weather they encounter on a given day. Tony Macri of Snow Trainers, a ski and snowboard training company based in Colorado and New Zealand, tells Mental Floss that the weather’s unpredictability makes ski instructing an adventure. “I never think that weather is disappointing,” he says. “It is what creates more challenge and mystery in every day, versus going back to your cubicle that always has the same florescent light shining down on you.”

2. SOME OF THEM HAVE A BEEF WITH SNOWBOARDERS.

Although some ski instructors also teach (and love) snowboarding, the majority of them try to stay away from snowboarders on the slopes, at least when they’re teaching. “[Snowboarders] tend to push all the fresh snow down the hill with their natural movements. Gets pretty frustrating!” justind99, a ski instructor in Quebec, writes in a Reddit AMA.

But other ski instructors have a more zen attitude when it comes to snowboarders and preach coexistence. “We are all here to have fun,” rbot1, a ski instructor in Salt Lake City, says in a Reddit AMA. “The snowboarder vs skier stigma does nothing but cause problems. Share the mountain!”

3. THEIR CERTIFICATION PROCESS IS INTENSE.

Ski instructor teaching adults

Depending on the country in which they become certified, ski instructors must take classes and pass a series of tests to prove their proficiency. In the U.S., the Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) establishes certification requirements for instructors. Once instructors become certified, they can take additional tests of their technical skills to earn higher levels of certification.

“Level 1 is pretty easy to get. Anyone that can ski a blue square comfortably can pass a level 1 exam,” rbot1 says. But achieving certification for higher levels is more challenging, requiring ski instructors to demonstrate their mastery of various turns, bump runs, and drills. “A single mistake in any of those runs nets you a fail,” says rbot1, who spent two years preparing for his Level 2 test. “These drills might be easy to complete, but you have to do it perfectly.”

4. THEY’VE SEEN SOME GNARLY ACCIDENTS.

Although some people think of skiing as a risky activity, ski instructors insist that, statistically, skiing is no more hazardous than many other sports. That said, most ski instructors have seen at least one nasty injury on the slopes, including broken legs and noses, concussions, and shoulder dislocations. “The worst injury I ever witnessed was a spinal fracture from a kid landing on his back after attempting to do a jump in the snow park area,” justind99 says.

“I have seen some injuries to knees, but the worst was when a friend concussed himself so bad that he was knocked out and was actually sleeping with his eyes open,” Macri says. White tells Mental Floss that a helicopter once picked him up from the slopes because medics suspected that he’d broken his neck. “Good news—I didn’t."

5. THEIR PAY ISN’T GREAT.

The income ski instructors make can vary widely, based on where they teach and their level of expertise. Some instructors earn $10 or $11 an hour for group lessons but charge more for private lessons or longer coaching sessions. While most beginning ski instructors may make just $20,000 per year, the perks of getting paid to ski outweigh the lack of cash for many instructors. “I do understand that at some point I’ll need to either start working really hard to boost my earning potential as an instructor or find another field,” rbot1 says. “For now, it’s a blast.”

6. THEY GET CREATIVE TO TEACH KIDS.

Ski instructor teaching children

A group of young kids bundled up in ski jackets while they try to balance on narrow skis might look adorable, but teaching children to ski comes with plenty of challenges. “Some kids don't have the muscles to do it at [a young] age and some do,” explains inkybus21, a ski and snowboard instructor who has taught in Canada, Australia, and Japan. To make sure his young students don’t lose interest or give up, he makes up games that require various skiing motions and uses visuals to help kids figure out how to properly use their bodies.

7. THEIR EQUIPMENT IS EXPENSIVE.

Ski equipment can be pricey, and ski instructors know the pain of an empty wallet firsthand. From skis and boots to bindings, poles, helmets, goggles, and other accessories, ski instructors can easily spend over $1000 on their equipment. And because their gear gets more use than a casual skier’s, instructors typically go through a pair of skis, boots, and liners each season. But many instructors are eligible for steep discounts on their gear, thanks to their employer or their PSIA-AASI membership. “I haven't bought anything at retail price in years,” rbot1 says. “I can’t even imagine paying full price for a pair of boots or ski/binder set up.”

8. THEY MISS SKIING DURING THE SUMMER.

In a career dependent on the winter season, what do ski instructors do during the summer? Some of them travel to the opposite hemisphere to work at a ski resort—essentially working two winters in a row. But because it can be costly to travel and live on another continent, most ski instructors work odd jobs or use their savings to rock climb and explore the outdoors in the off season. Rbot1, for example, has spent his summers working at a ski resort’s restaurant, boxing fish at an Alaskan processing plant, and living off of his savings. “Most people have a seasonal job. The most popular is raft guiding, the second most popular is working at a state park,” he says.

9. THEY GREATLY APPRECIATE TIPS.

Ski instructors don’t always receive tips from their students, and they wish more people knew that they welcome—and in some cases, expect—gratuity. Rbot1 recounts the story of how he once earned $1500, his biggest tip to date, after instructing a family of four for five days, taking them to different parts of the mountain and even eating lunch with them. “At the end of the week it was all hugs and smiles, but my hand was left dry,” he says. “Anyways, next day I got an email that said ‘you have a tip in the office’ and BOOM $1500 in an envelope.” Rbot1 made good use of the generous tip, paying two months of rent and car payments, as well as buying new ski goggles and gloves.

10. THEY LOVE HELPING PEOPLE OVERCOME THEIR FEARS.

Although skiing is good exercise and an enjoyable winter activity, learning to ski can also help people feel more confident. “It’s not always about skiing and teaching people to be the best skiers,” Macri says. “A lot of [the job] is just about showing people a good time and helping them achieve their goals or overcoming their fears.”

Macri particularly appreciates the amazing views from the top of a mountain, as well as the feeling he gets when he takes students down a great run and everyone high-fives one another in joy. “I sit back and think this is my office and I am having just as amazing [a] time as everyone else. The only difference is that I am getting paid for it,” he says.

All photos courtesy of iStock.

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