By Jose Trujillo (@jAy_Ay_T ):
It was the 1992 summer olympic games in Barcelona.
A young American boxer by the name of Oscar de la Hoya went toe to toe with defending World Amateur Championship gold medalist Marco Rudolph from Germany.
Up only by one point in the final round, De La Hoya landed his signature left hook square on Rudolph’s nose, knocking him to the ground, and launching De La Hoya to a decisive victory and a gold medal.
But De La Hoya didn’t just leave with a gold medal, he left with something else.
That year, no other American athlete returned home with gold except for De La Hoya. This prompted publicist John Beyrooty to introduce him by something else other than “Oscar De La Hoya.”
At the press conference following the fight, Beyrooty introduced him as “The Golden Boy.”
Ever since then, that nickname has stuck with him throughout his boxing and business career.
But for athletes, this is how nicknames are created.
It usually comes down to a defining moment or repeating habit that a player has which ultimately guides their nickname.
And for the San Jose State University football team, it’s no different. Nicknames are plenty and some so fitting, they have stuck through Pop Warner, High school and up until now in college.
Just ask junior middle linebacker Frank Ginda, and junior defensive tackle Owen Roberts.
Frank “The Tank” Ginda.
Ginda got this nickname when he was eight years old, and growing up, he was always one of the biggest players on his football team and has long had a knack for hitting people.
“I got it because I’m a guy who used to run people over at practice,” Ginda said. “I was the big guy on the team… and then I never broke down and never missed practice. So they would say I was ‘unstoppable like the tank and it rhymed with Frank, so ‘Frank the Tank.’”
Twelve years later, and Ginda is still the playing like his eight-year-old self.
He not only led the team in tackles this season, but finished first in the country with 173 total tackles, and he is still humbled when people refer to him by his nickname.
“I love it,” Ginda said. “It’s awesome. It’s a feeling that when I get called it, it’s like a positive influence on me and makes me feel like I’m doing things right.”
Owen “Boogie” Roberts
Roberts may have the coolest nickname on the team, but it wasn’t always like that. While “Boogie” is the nickname that stuck with him, it wasn’t his first.
“My first year in football, my nickname was ‘Creampuff’ because I was soft and I was scared,” Roberts said. “Next year, I got tired of people calling me that, so I just worked on my game and I got the name ‘Boogieman.’”
“I would get a lot of sacks on the quarterback,” Roberts said. “And they (teammates and coaches) said, ‘When he come up to the line, his eyes get big like he seen the boogieman.’”
Roberts credits his Pop Warner coach Charles Bons as the first person to call him “Boogie.”
And if you know Roberts, you know to refer to him by his exclusive name.
“That’s just my name,” Roberts said. “I tell my professors, everybody call me ‘Boogie.’ It’s not a nickname anymore — it’s just me.”