James Toney And His Bobble Head Doll: Feet Of Clay

james toney04.09.06 - By Jeff Meyers: September 4, 2006 – Prior to the main event Saturday September 2, 2006 at Staples Center between James Toney and Samuel Peter in Los Angeles, I hunted for a suitable souvenir for my three and a half year-old son (having already bought a pink “Lights Out” hat for my daughter and white “Lights Out” panties for my wife, with the latter failing to have the desired effect upon returning home that evening).

I ended up spending $15 for a bobble-head doll with Toney’s mug bobbing and weaving on a spring. When I gave it to my son, he immediately began sparring with the doll and knocked it down . . . breaking the legs off at the ankles and the gloves off at the wrists. What kind of bobble head doll is this, I thought to myself. Inspection of the doll revealed it was comprised of ceramic material — not plastic.

The parallels between the clay bobble-head doll and the real flesh-and-blood fighter that is James Toney were not lost on me as I feverishly searched for glue to fix the doll and stop my son from crying. The expression “feet of clay” is a biblical reference to the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, who had a dream where he saw a statue with a head made of gold. Yet, the materials got progressively weaker lower down the statue, from silver to brass to iron and finally to the feet that were “part of iron, part of clay.” The statue was shattered and destroyed by being struck on the feet, its weakest point. The expression “feet of clay” has come to represent someone highly regarded but having a weakness or flaw in his character.

The Peter-Toney bout showed the real James Toney and all his flaws. We didn’t see a guy rolling over his competition, pouring every fiber of his well-conditioned muscles and conditioning in the ring like Ali and Frazier. We didn’t even see Peter and Wladimir Klitschko redux. We saw a sweaty, blubbery (albeit crafty) fighter struggle to keep up with a plodding crude slugger. Yes, Toney may be the most slick and elusive boxer this side of Chris Byrd. Yes, Toney may be capable of outpointing the majority of heavyweights out there right now. But is this really what we want from our heavyweight champion? The heir apparent to Dempsey, Louis, Marciano, and Ali? A man who demonstrates his dedication to the sport by chain-smoking cigars and wolfing down cheeseburgers, dropping the f-bomb like no one’s business every chance he gets?

Toney’s mouth may be pure gold, but his body and commitment to the sport are made of clay. James, you can keep your share of the $50 I shelled out for the fight. But I want my $15 back for the bobble head doll.

Article posted on 05.09.2006

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