Cheers: Heavy Metal

In the 1960s, in Poland, Hungary and especially the Soviet Union, the great national sports heroes were weightlifters. Waldemar Baszanowski, the Polish lightweight, was not only insanely strong, but faster than the speed of light.

Imre Foldi, the Hungarian featherweight, won gold in Munich in 1972 despite the fact that, due to an accident, he was missing most of the ring finger of his left hand. Yuri Vlasov of Russia, competing as a heavyweight at the Rome Olympics in 1960, was the first human to clean and jerk more than 200 kilograms (440 pounds).


There were great American lifters then, too, though they were little recognized in the Land of Baseball. There was Ike Berger of New York City, the dapper, swift featherweight; Tony Garcy of El Paso, the cerebral lightweight, and our personal hero Tamio “Tommy” Kono, the world record setting middleweight who suffered from asthma and poor health as a boy growing up in Sacramento and became completely well and fit courtesy of an all-expenses-paid, three-and-a-half-year vacation provided by the United States government, which shipped him and his parents and all his Japanese neighbors to an internment camp in warm, dry Tule Lake, Calif., during World War II. He went on to set world records in four different weight classes.

Thus was it pleasant to discover Kono at Rooster Brother. Not the Japanese weightlifter, the Mãori Sauvignon Blanc.

Kono is from New Zealand and is somewhat cool, what with being owned and bottled by an indigenous community in Marlborough. The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc sold at Rooster Brother (under $10) is refreshing and clean — more zesty than fruity — with a crisp feel on the palate and an easy finish. Drink it cold and, if it’s not too much trouble, have one for Tommy.

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