In a boxing movie, the main character is always fighting to be "world champion," or maybe they narrow it down to "heavyweight champion." Either way, there's only one of those belts, and you know that by winning it, he's the best in the world.
"All hail the Emperor of Punching!"
But in real life? Quick, name the current world boxing champion. Yeah, didn't think so. Either you can't because you have no idea, or you're a boxing fan and you also can't, because you're still listing names. Because there can be close to a hundred champions at any given moment.
Most of us understand that when it comes to boxing, there are weight classes, but what you might not know is that there are 17 separate weight classes, and some of them differ by as little as three pounds. OK, so 17 weight classes. That's 17 world champs then, right? Wrong.
The World Boxing Champion, Wiry Mexicans Wearing Huge Belts Division.
Actually, there are four separate sanctioning bodies in boxing, and all four crown their own 17 world champions. Well, that was up until a fifth body, "The Ring," also started crowning a world champ, which brings the total number of possible world champions at any one time up to a staggering 85-plus. And yes, that's a plus, because some of those slots can themselves be filled by as many as three people at the same time.
And one more thing: Anyone who's watched Rocky III knows something else about boxing champions -- they literally get to pick their fights with whomever they want. There's no tournament where they have to fight the next guy in line on some kind of predetermined schedule. Mickey spells the whole process out for you:
Mickey: They was hand-picked!
Rocky Balboa: Setups?
Mickey: Nah, they wasn't setups. They was good fighters, but they wasn't killers like this guy. He'll knock you to tomorrow, Rock!
"Also, I'll be out this weekend. Miyagi and I are hitting up Vegas."
Remember how Rocky got his original shot at the belt? Apollo's team picked him because they thought it'd be an easy win. Clubber Lang didn't get his shot until he got Rocky riled up by making sexy talk at his wife. Well, that part of the Rocky mythos was spot on -- all a champion has to do to keep his belt is pick lesser fighters for his matches.
Just ask boxing fans who have waiting for the two best boxers in the world -- Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao -- to fight each other. They've been waiting for two and a half years, with no fight in the foreseeable future. It'd be like if after winning the Super Bowl, you could just spend the next three years setting up games with random mediocre teams.
"We've earned a break. Next season, it's nothing but Pee Wee League."
Earlier we mentioned that most of you could probably name more Oscar winners than Nobel Peace Prize winners. That's the comparison that always gets made because, well, the Nobel Peace Prize is the most prestigious award in the world. The other prizes - in Physics, Chemistry, etc. -- go to the brightest members of the species, but the Peace Prize? Hell, that goes to the heroes who are literally saving the world from brutal violence.
They're basically a geriatric Justice League.
There's no way the criteria for this prize is a bunch of bullshit. Let's just end this article right now.
In order to get a Nobel Peace Prize, you must first be nominated by a politician, judge, university professor, Nobel prize winner or member of the Nobel committee, who are appointed by the Norwegian parliament. So there's a theme to the nominators, and the theme is "people who've probably never tasted Doritos Locos Tacos." And yes, it's true that the Nobel committee makes the Academy Awards crew look diverse:
But the problem is that in Mr. Nobel's charter for the award, he specifically called for honoring people who are doing the most to promote peace between nations. Present tense. Sounds nice, right? There's one thing missing: time. That is, the time needed to figure out if what the person was doing was successful at all.
Contrast that with the winners of the Nobel Prizes for Physics and Chemistry, whose contributions are specifically required to have "stood the test of time." Which means Dr. Man Who Finally Got Alchemy Down is going have to wait a few decades to get his Chemistry Nobel. Same thing, creator of Quantum Leap. But that guy who came up with the Kony 2012 campaign? Totally eligible for a Peace Prize right now.
"I'd like to thank the people of San Diego for providing constant inspiration."
And this is why we've had some Peace Prize winners over the years who have been just baffling in retrospect. In 1973, for example, the prize was awarded to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho for trying to end the Vietnam War. There was just one small problem: The war was still raging. Cordell Hull got one even though he sent hundreds of Jews to their deaths during the Holocaust because they didn't have correct paperwork. Menachem Begin got one even though he was eventually implicated in a plot to assassinate a German chancellor. And then there's President Obama, whose nomination was turned in 12 days into his presidency -- and he won.
On the other end of the scale we have Gandhi, the guy who liberated an entire nation from oppression without ever lifting a finger in violence. He never won, despite being nominated five separate years. Then he died in 1948, which made him ineligible, because unlike the science awards, a dead person can't win the Peace Prize (you can't be currently doing anything to promote world peace after death, unless you're haunting some dictator's palace). The committee apologized to the human race by awarding the prize to no one that year. Though they may have simply been trying to distract everyone from the fact that Gandhi's black belt was probably bullshit.
He had one mean bastard of a roundhouse, though.
James also has a Tumblr, on which he discusses the finer points of social networking, meat-eating and nose-picking.
For more things that aren't that impressive, check out 6 Geniuses Who Saw Their Inventions Go Terribly Wrong. Or discover the The 14 Most Unintentionally Terrifying Statues in the World.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Filthiest Joke Ever Hidden in a Children's Movie
And stop by LinkSTORM to see the columnists practicing their sweet karate skills.
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