Why Everyone Can’t Stop Talking About Fat Boxer Andy Ruiz, Jr.

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Is he conventionally fit? No. But he’s a freak athlete in his own right.

This just in: You don’t have to be a ripped Adonis with a perfect six-pack, ostrich-egg biceps, and oak tree legs to be athletic and strong. And you definitely don’t need the body of a Greek god.

Your latest proof: Andy Ruiz Jr., the WBA heavyweight champion you never saw coming. Just in case you somehow missed it, Ruiz knocked out defending champ and Greek god Anthony Joshua last weekend in a victory that’s messing with the minds of sports fans everywhere.

Sports fans, you see, love confusing “fitness” and “athleticism,” but the two things aren’t one and the same. Joshua’s more “fit” than Ruiz, with muscles upon muscles and ripped abs, an eternal Underwear Olympics champion. Ruiz, meanwhile, was 268 pounds before the post-fight partying, none of it sculpted. And before the bout, he called himself a “little fat boy.”

But Ruiz is the champ for a reason: His skills are perfect for his sport. The big guy knows how to throw a punch and take a punch. And boxing is about the art of punching and absorbing punches. Nobody’s ever won a pro sports title for being a size-29 waist.

Sports are about skills, and those skills don’t always correlate directly to bodyfat percentage or VO2 max. We still haven’t learned that, which is why Twitter’s still fat-shaming Ruiz, even though he’s the latest in elite pro athletes carved more from dough than granite. There’s Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia and there was Shaquille O’Neal before that, and (spoiler alert!) when NFL defensive tackles go shirtless, most of them aren’t flashing six-pack abs.

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