Host King Kaufman brings you narrative stories about losing* in sports, in all its forms—including as a prelude to better things. As Tolstoy may have almost written: Every champion is the same, but every loser is a loser in their own way. Can't Win 4 Losing tells their—which is to say our—stories.
*also about winning.
Anthony Hembrick: Godfather of “Showboating Fighters KTFO”
"Showboating Fighters Get KTFO" — that's knocked the F out — is a popular YouTube genre. But before the internet, Anthony "Hollywood" Hembrick practically invented the form. An undefeated light-heavyweight, Hembrick danced up a choreographed storm with his cornermen before getting KO'd in the first round of a fight on national TV. The former U.S. Olympic captain eventually challenged for the world title, but he'll always be best remembered for that one humbling night. Originally published Dec. 9, 2017.
You’ve Got to Lose to Learn How to Win: Diego Luke’s Story
Diego Luke was a promising youth hockey player in Minnesota until kidney disease forced him to step away from the game. His comeback was interrupted by a bout with cancer. Yet he returned to the ice again. Luke recounts his traumatic journey back to hockey, which included a bench-clearing brawl in the hospital that brought the cops. Plus: King Kaufman introduces a new song by his former band The Smokejumpers: "If My Heart Was an Elbow, I'd Need Tommy John." Originally published Dec. 2, 2017.
Killer Weight Loss Secrets: Fighters Cutting Weight
Weight cutting. It's hard. It's painful. It doesn't really give fighters a competitive advantage. And it can be deadly. Andrew Stelzer on some fighters' toughest battle, the one fans never see. Plus: King Kaufman on Billy Conn, "The Pittsburgh Kid," who gave Joe Louis all he wanted — and then gave him a little too much. Featuring the Bible Code Sundays. Originally published Nov. 25, 2017.
We Kicked It Like National Champions
An expanded version of a story that was featured on NPR's "Only a Game": As a football player in high school and college in Houston, Michael Porter played on teams that went a combined 0-77. So what did he do next? Became a coach at his alma mater. This year (2017) was a rough one for his team, starting with Hurricane Harvey. But they've got a coach who's been through a few things. Originally published Nov. 18, 2017.
Football in Mexico. Not soccer. American football. Jonathan Tinajero is chasing his NFL dreams in Mexico City. How did a small-college defensive back from East L.A. end up playing pro ball south of the border? Juan Reyes reports. Plus: Paulie Soda, a loser among losers at Fat Nick's candy store in the Bronx, 1953. And: A talk with our theme song singer, Johnny Rawls. Originally published Nov. 11, 2017.
My Fault: The Trey Junkin Story
New York Giants fans—and almost no one else—remember Trey Junkin. He was a long-snapper in the NFL longer than anyone, ever. For 19 years he was an anonymous perfectionist working in the game's trenches. Until his very last snap. In the playoffs. As host King Kaufman reports, Junkin's been living with that bad snap for 15 years. He owns it. But there's more to him than that. Originally published Nov. 4, 2017.