by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
March 25, 2004
SLAPPIN' TO THE OLDIES
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Whew, that was a close one. We almost lost Richard Simmons.
It seems that flamboyant fitness fanatic Richard Simmons of "Sweatin' to the Oldies" fame narrowly avoided certain death after tangling with a 255-pound Harley-Davidson salesman at an airport.
The sometimes-called "Queen of Fitness" was in line at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Wednesday night, when he was hassled by Chris Farney, a 6-foot-1-inch, 23-year-old cage fighter.
Cage fighting is that sport where two enraged muscle-bound men lock themselves in a steel cage and beat the crap out of each other until someone is nearly dead.
According to police, Farney spotted Simmons and said "Hey everybody, it's Richard Simmons. Let's drop our bags and rock to the '50s."
This is where it gets interesting. Instead of smiling and shrugging it off, Simmons told police he felt he had to "bitch slap" Farney. So the two began whaling on each other until a crushing blow to the temple dropped Farney to the floor. Then Richard "Death From Above" Simmons planted his foot on Farney's chest, raised his arms skyward, and bellowed to the heavens in victory.
No, that's not what really happened. He actually said, "It's not nice to make fun of people with issues," and then allegedly slapped Farney on the left side of the face.
I have to say "allegedly," in case Simmons really didn't laugh in the face of death and slap a 255-pound cage-fighting biker.
According to a Reuters story, Farney was so stunned he walked away for a few minutes before he contacted the authorities. He told police he wasn't going to hit Simmons, because he was rather frightened by his wild-eyed rage, and was worried that he would be seriously injured.
No, he didn't say that. He actually told police he didn't hit Simmons because he "knew that he was much more powerful than Simmons."
That's not saying much. The little kid from "Jerry Maguire" is much more powerful than Richard Simmons. This isn't David versus Goliath, it's a bug versus a cement truck.
Thankfully, Farney didn't retaliate physically. Instead, he did what any red-blooded American male who enjoys crunching the bones of other red-blooded American males would do: he's pressing charges against the 54-year-old fitness guru.
I guess when you're known as the cage fighter/motorcycle salesman who got his butt kicked by Richard Simmons, you need to do something to save your reputation. Although pressing misdemeanor charges against him doesn't seem to do as much as, say, driving his head into a turnbuckle.
I have to admire Simmons' dedication to the people he's helped, and his willingness to possibly be savagely pummeled by someone twice his size. But I am also concerned about the kind of message he's sending to the youth of today.
We try to teach society's children that violence is not the way to solve our problems. "Use your words, not your fists," we admonish today's youth. We want our children to resolve conflicts through peaceful means, rather than resorting to fisticuffs.
So what kind of example is Richard "The Sultan of Slap" Simmons setting for the rest of us? His message of peace, love, and fitness has moved millions of people to take up lives of health and well-being. But will his message be lost amid the Mike Tyson-like violence that threatens to engulf him?
This once-peaceful purveyor of healthy habits has been an inspiration to many Americans as he has helped us lose weight and eat responsibly. He has Dealt-a-Meal his way into our hearts, and shown us how to enjoy sweating off those unwanted pounds to music from the very roots of Americana.
We should never forget all the lives that Richard Simmons has touched over the past three decades. But I have to wonder: will his legacy be tarnished by this senseless act of violence? Can we ever forgive Richard for exacting mayhem on a defenseless 255-pound cage fighter?
Yes, we can. Richard has taught us that we are all wonderful people, worthy of love and greatness. And we should extend the same courtesies to him.
And I believe that with some anger management therapy, he will learn to deal with his rage issues. Because only when Richard Simmons comes to terms with the seething, rabid beast bottled up inside his soul can he truly be free.
We believe in you, Richard. We believe in you.