Hot-dog king throwing in the towel

Blaming arthritis, hot-dog eating champion Kobayashi is calling it quits after the July 4th competition next week. His downfall? Arthritis in his jaw.

He described the affliction as an “occupational hazard” that has all but crushed his hopes of defending his title at the Nathan’s Famous July Fourth International Hot Dog Eating Contest, in New York next week. The diminutive Mr Kobayashi, 29, first outgobbled his most voracious American rivals at the speed and volume event seven years ago.

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Yet in an emotional entry on his blog, Mr Kobayashi revealed that his rigorous training regime, which involves stretching his stomach with large quantities of cabbage and water, had left his mouth all but paralysed.

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He goes on to berate himself for not accepting the inevitable sooner. “I feel so ashamed that I didn’t hear the alarm bells ringing in my own body,” he writes, “but with the aim of winning the title and setting a new record in my head, I couldn’t stop my training regime so close to the competition.”

Like a professional athlete, he pushed his body beyond the bounds that constrain us non-competitive eaters. He asked too much for too long from his body, and now his body is biting back.

Nope. Just can’t make it sound like the downfall of a real athlete, can I? Sure, I can’t eat 53 hot dogs in 12 minutes, but I wouldn’t want to, either. On the other hand, competing on American Gladiators? Well, no, not that either.

[tags]Arthritis of the jaw, Choking down weiners hurts champion’s jaw, Kobayashi downed by arthritis[/tags]