Attack of the Giant Legume

By Wrigley Brogan on April 30, 2018
Attack of the Giant Legume
The fight, if it could be called that, was what many people expected. (Wrigley Brogan)

Eric Esch lumbered off the airplane like a crate of melons. His shoulders went from wall to wall and no one could pass him down the gangplank…

Eric Esch lumbered off the airplane like a crate of melons. His shoulders went from wall to wall and no one could pass him down the gangplank. People offered him various glances as if he were a vague recollection, someone they had once seen in passing, a television personality perhaps, or just an oddity, a walking blubbery hairless lump whose head, without a neck, was attached to his shoulders, someone they had seen on late night television in an Ed Wood movie. (Was it Thor?) What they witnessed was the arrival of Butterbean, king of the four-rounders preparing to fight beanpole Scott Lindecker at the Emerald Queen Casino.

Butterbean was in a foul mood, lips pursed, eyes squenched. His handlers should have had ropes around his neck to keep him in control as he pushed and shoved his way ahead. He was hungry. The bag of peanuts had not satisfied him during the flight and it was rumored that he had started eating the pillow after gnawing the armrest off his seat. Food is the first thing to know about the Bean. He needs plenty of it and like a shrew he needs it constantly.

Murray Sutherland, a much-underrated boxer, accompanied him as trainer. Sutherland left the inside of the ring to the outside with a record of 47-14-1 and with all his faculties intact. Although he had beaten Wilfred Scypion he was noted more for his loses than his wins. He had lost by UD against Bobby Czyz, Thomas Hearns, and Michael Spinks. His second fight with Spinks ended by TKO and Matthew Saad Muhammad had knocked him out.

Butterbean’s mood was not about to change quickly. I offered him an old sucker covered with lint I had in my pocket. He was polite and graceful and after finishing off the stick asked for more. He quickly downed another batch of lint I scraped from my other pocket. He had a radio interview across town and there was no time to feed him. I managed to knock a Snicker’s bar from the studio hall machine and search for a nearby restaurant while he gave the interview. There was a Taco Bell across the street, heavy food guaranteed to fill him with air.

The interview went fine with no indication of a man who has spent too much time staring through the window of the microwave. The Bean can talk and sound charming and articulate without being overly erudite.

People usually mean well and often attempt to be kind when they should leave a situation alone. When we said the Bean was hungry the radio personality insisted the Bean have a nice meal at a decent restaurant. Big mistake. The Bean is not a man who tastes food. Food is a lump that should be shoved down in mass. Texture, presentation, aroma, subtlety, taste, flavor, and any enjoyable essence take second place to weight and volume. The Bean is a big man, over 350 pounds, with big appetites. He wants food now and he wants a wheelbarrow to carry it in.

The man called a friend at Ivor’s. Ivor’s restaurant is a Seattle legend, the best fish house in the Northwest. The view is beautiful. One can sit and watch the ferryboats arrive and depart on Puget Sound while seagulls swoop low for bits of dropped French fries and tourists lean over railings to watch an occasional sea otter doing the backstroke. I suggested we go to Taco Bell. The radio personality insisted we go to Ivor’s and that everything had been arranged. The Bean attempted to overcome his hunger and accommodate the man. Big Mistake.

The waiter took our orders quickly enough but the food was too long in coming. The Bean started to tremble. Finally he started to bang on the table and yell for food. Diners looked his way not knowing if they should call the police, Western State Mental Hospital, or the Zoo. I ran back to the waiter and told him to bring anything. He waiter emerged shortly with piles of sourdough bread. I felt a great deal of relief after getting him to the Casino.

My next job was to pick up Scott Lindecker, the Bean’s opponent. He was a skinny, quiet man with high cheekbones and a permanently smashed in face. All his bones were held together by dry, yellow flesh. Like most of the Bean’s opponents the majority of his fights had been in toughman competitions. He lived in the dream world of hopeful opportunity. He knew he could knock out the Bean then move on to greater things. He did not know this would be his last fight. He entered the contest with 8 wins and 8 losses, all losses by knockout. His wife or girlfriend accompanied him and appeared to make all his decisions. He was damaged goods: slurred speech, clouded eyes.

Trouble started at the weigh-in and the main event was in danger of falling out. Prior to the official weigh-in, the promoter had Lindecker step onto the scale. His weight matched up better with Freddie Welsh than the Bean. The commission would never approve such a discrepancy. Sutherland asked if his fighter could step onto the scale wearing his clothes. They looked at Lindecker, a sorry refugee from the ranks of defeated boxers, then at the Legume, big, bright, and green in the height of the growing season.

Had this been a real fight, the commission would have refused. This was entertainment—nothing more. Except for a few local bar flies, no one was fooled enough to take the bout seriously. The commission said yes.

I shoved Lindecker into the car and drove him to the nearest fishing shop. I was surprised at how many lead weights we got into his pockets. He had enough ballast to keep Ahab’s ship Pequod upright in any storm save an attack by a giant white whale. No one came closer to being a white whale than Butterbean.

Because of the weight, Lindecker held up his pants to keep them from falling to his ankles. Even then he barely weighed enough. Everyone seemed pleased. The show would continue.

The fight, if it could be called that, was what many people expected. The fat guys imagined themselves as tough athletes capable of more than a rousing game of Skittles or lawn bowling. The sadists were out for blood and enjoyed watching a bowling ball knock over a wobbly pin and hopefully spill a bit of blood on the way. Some were happy to see a celebrity, regardless of how minor. A few boxing fans hoped the travesty would end soon so we count watch Emit Linton in a real bout against Jose Flores.

The first punch the Bean threw lifted Lindecker’s feet completely off the canvas. He never came down the remainder of the fight. The referee, a sympathetic man, eventually stopped the fight. The crowd went wild. The Bean had crushed another dangerous opponent and saved the world from evil.

I saw Lindecker in the bar after the fight. The woman was stroking his arm. I bought him a drink. He looked straight ahead dreaming about what might have been.

“I could have beat him,” he said. “I just needed more time. Maybe I can get a rematch, a 6-rounder.”

Nothing dies harder than hope. Lindecker never fought again.

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  1. Lucas McCain 12:40pm, 05/02/2018

    Poor Lindecker.  I suppose it’s pontless to wonder what he’s up to now.

    As for “consuming mass quantities,” as the Coneheads used to say, it’s is an ancient fascination.  In my youth, tales of of pie eating contests at State Fairs competed with anecdotes of pro-rassler Haystacks Calhoun’s breakfasts.  And in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, the Romans are more thrilled at tales of what the Egyptians ate for breakfast than of the infinite sexiness of Cleopatra.

  2. Ollie Downtown Brown 05:38pm, 04/30/2018

    Was Butterbean really a Diamond Jim Brady at the table? A lot of times some of these “big guys” don’t eat nearly what you think they eat. Primo Carnera insisted all those stories about what a huge appetite he had were all fabricated and that he actually ate very little. Damn, how long has “fake news” been around? I think no one alive can top the thirst of the late Andre The Giant. Saw an excellent documentary on Andre The Giant the other day on the idiot box. It was said one time that Andre put down 120 beers in one sitting. Believe It Or Not.

  3. Jose 02:00pm, 04/30/2018

    Good writing.

  4. Balaamsass 08:11am, 04/30/2018

    Official weight 193…..I’m thinking at least 10 pounds of fishing weights in his pockets….probably was above 175….big whoop! Same body type as Murray Sutherland…..not as muscular though! Aside from being double tough Murray was very strong and he could hit…. that’s why he could compete in that era of very nasty lightheavys!

  5. peter 07:21am, 04/30/2018

    A fun read and well written. However, after reading this article, I googled this fight and I saw a different one than what was reported here. You are correct—Lindecker had no chance in beating Butterbean. However, Lindecker was boxing well and winning each round—until he was dropped. If Lindecker had been given enough time to train and develop stamina, he had the skills and toughness to beat The Bean.

  6. Ollie Downtown Brown 06:52am, 04/30/2018

    Henry Cooper had to use weights to boost his weight up for his first fight with Ali. I think Cooper claimed he weighed about 180lbs give or take for that first fight and held some weights in his hands and had some in his shoes as well.

  7. Balaamsass 06:19am, 04/30/2018

    Something missing here….just how much did Lindecker weigh? Did he weigh even weigh half as much as Butterbean? Did he scale above 175 or not?

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