Chances are the name Nathan Minton III means nothing to you.
So let's play a version of "What's My Line," the old TV game show. See if these clues help you recognize the 28-year-old Georgia native and his role at the 1998 Winter Olympics.- Besides the more common nickname "Chip," he also refers to himself as "Mr. World Class - The Greatest Athlete of All Time." (You're thinking, "Obviously not someone whose main redeeming quality is humility.)
- He used to work as a prison guard specializing in riot detail at the state penitentiary in Macon, Ga. "Is there a sports angle here?"
- He wrestles professionally on the World Championship Wrestling circuit. "Like I said, is there a sports angle here?"
- Six years ago, he showed up for U.S. Olympic Team tryouts in Calgary, Canada, wearing a baseball cap, sweater and sneakers - and no coat and no boots - in the sub-20-degree weather. "Ah, ha! A sports angle - but it sounds just like the visual gag in the Disney movie `Cool Runnings,' about the Jamaican bobsled team's first exposure to snow and the cold."
There, you got it - he's a bobsled athlete, a trash-talking pushman on the four-man USA I crew hoping to break a four-decade American medal drought in the event's second and final day of Olympic runs at the Spiral track.
And, please, don't mention the Jamaicans around Minton. He still carries a large namesake chip on his shoulder about the warm-weather Caribbean athletes made famous in film.
"I want a movie made about us," he said. "I'm tired of the Jamaicans finishing 25th and getting all the press."
And who better to star on the silver screen than the multi-faceted Minton?
The soft side: a loving husband and father who has stashed a photo of wife, Dannah, and 6-year-old daughter, Taylor, in his sled. The athletic side: a 245-pound muscle-bound monster who helped Brian Shimer's USA I crew set push-start and track records across the globe. The outrageous side: the pro wrestler who frequently found himself disqualified for choking, biting and throwing opponents over the ropes by the head.
Nowadays, his intimidation tactics have been toned down to just talkin' smack to the competition, threatening to kick international tail and enjoying the offense taken by his stuffy European counterparts. "I've got two days to back up two years of trash talk," Minton said earlier this week.
Minton, Shimer and crewmates Randy Jones and Garrett Hines begin Saturday's final two heats in fourth place, 0.05 seconds out of a medal and 0.28 out of first place. No U.S. bobsled team - two- or four-man - has won a medal since 1956, although at Calgary in 1988, the U.S. was 0.05 seconds from a bronze in the four-man.
A teenage bodybuilder who gave it up because he thought his calves weren't up to form, Minton spent four years squelching riots at Macon's Central Corrections Institution before literally taking a flier on bobsledding.
In 1992, he noticed a flier advertising tryouts for the U.S. bobsled team in Calgary, and he weathered the sub-freezing temperatures with borrowed clothes.
Minton gave up his prison job to devote more attention to the sport, with his family often moving in with friends to help cut costs. He has picked up a little extra money and notoriety wrestling on the WCW circuit, but he's also picked up a slew of injuries, including cracked ribs, a broken thumb and a concussion.
An Olympian who teamed with Jim Herberich to place 14th in the two-man at the 1994 Lillehammer Games, Minton has won numerous medals and honors in World Cup and World Push Championship events during the past five years. But he knows that bobsledding's primary exposure comes during the Winter Games once every four years.
"No one remembers a World Cup race," he said, but "everybody remembers the Olympics. That's what we're here to do - win the gold medal."