I interviewed American Olympic gymnast Jake Dalton as part of our “Making America’s Gladiators” series for Men’s Fitness. Some athletes are pretty numb when it comes to interviews, but not Jake—he was probably just as excited as I was.
One thing I marveled at in this reporting was just how seriously he takes his nutrition. It’s not unusual to hear bodybuilders log calories, but he tracks his nutrition like an ongoing experiment in human-broccoli interaction.
Don’t worry, though: He still occasionally eats maple glazed donuts.
I interviewed Jordan Burroughs for Men’s Fitness as part of our “Making America’s Gladiators” feature in the July/August 2016 issue.
If there was any hint in our conversation that this man is extraordinary, it was this: Never before have I spoken with a person who has such complete and unflinching confidence in his training and ability. He wasn’t brash or boastful or conceited—simply resolute in his self-knowledge that he had done everything in his (considerable) power to be the absolute best in the world.
As part of the “Making America’s Gladiators” feature in the Men’s Fitness run-up to the Rio Olympics, I had the opportunity to profile John Orozco, the Bronx-born gymnast who had overcome tremendous odds simply to compete at the qualifying meets to make the U.S. Olympic team. In his competitive career, Orozco had twice ruptured the same Achilles tendon, and was still in pain from that injury when he qualified—only to injure the ACL and meniscus of his left knee, essentially ending his Olympic hopes.
But he’s still got one more passion to pursue: acting.
As one of 12 black freshmen at Notre Dame in 1965, Dr. Bill Hurd was a pioneer.
His life is one of giant steps. A five-time All-American sprinter — he still holds two Notre Dame records and nearly qualified for the 1968 Olympic team — Hurd was also an honors electrical engineering student and a standout jazz saxophonist who was named “most promising sax” at the Collegiate Jazz Festival.
In Hurd’s senior year, Ara Parseghian personally invited him to join the football team for a season (he played wideout). Father Ted Hesburgh, CSC, encouraged him apply for a Rhodes Scholarship (he was a finalist).
Now a practicing ophthalmologist with two U.S./foreign patents for ocular devices, the Memphis native annually travels to such places as Madagascar, Mexico and Kenya, where he performs pro bono eye surgeries for hundreds.
“Most of these people [have] never seen a doctor before, let alone an eye surgeon,” says Hurd, who is composing an autobiography tentatively titled Memphis to Madagascar.
Even with a career as remarkable as his — “I’ve been very blessed,” he says — Hurd is reticent to single out a defining moment. There is his latest album, Return of the Hip, which opened in 2014 near the top of the Memphis jazz charts. There is the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award he received in 1994 alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and other legends. There is the pride, shared with his wife, Rhynette, of seeing their sons Bill Jr. and Ryan ’05 attend Notre Dame.
If there is a defining moment, it might be this: During one of his medical journeys to Madagascar, Hurd successfully restored vision to an elderly woman who “had never seen her grandchild before.” The surgery complete, Hurd removed her eye patch. As she saw her family for the first time, “She just started crying. And I did too.”