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World Champion Competitive Eater Takeru Kobayashi Suffering Jaw Arthritis
Will He Be Ready for Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest?
If all goes well, New York City will once again see 27-year-old Takeru
Kobayashi vie for his seventh consecutive hot dog eating title on
Wednesday. Although Kobayashi is not feeling well, he has every
intention of retaining his championship title at the annual Fourth of
July International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Nathan's Famous on Coney
On Friday, Nagano, Japan's Kobayashi gave an exclusive interview to the
Free Press. Through an interpreter he told reporter Brooks Rexroat that
he is limited in how far he can open his mouth and experiences pain
when he does. He said he has jaw arthritis that developed because of
improperly grown wisdom teeth and years of intensive training for
competitive eating. Although Kobayashi said his condition right now is
"not so good," the Free Press reports, he has been "talking to
professionals and taking their advice. They've been giving me exercises
for relaxing the muscles and giving me some things I can do to relax
and heal my jaw."
The Free Press reports that Kobayashi is concerned about the upcoming
event, but is doing everything possible to ensure he does not miss the
contest. He said "a muscle is tight around the jaw because of the
injury, and I have some medicines and creams to do various experiments
to try to loosen up the muscle, so that's the thing I'm trying to do
right now. I'm very worried about if I can fix my problem before the
contest. Since this got out, a lot of people have rallied around me and
given me advice, and I really feel the energy of other people. I want
to try my best not to give up."
Kobayashi is the undisputed world champion competitive eater,
even breaking his own hamburger-eating record last fall in Chattanooga,
when he gobbled down 97 Krystal burgers in eight minutes. The Free
Press stated Kobayashi also holds world eating titles for rice balls,
bratwurst, cow brains and lobster rolls.
Kobayashi has a special interest in
Wednesday's hot dog eating contest, however. The Free Press reports
that five weeks ago Joey Chestnut inhaled 59 hot dogs, wiping out
Kobayashi's record of 53. As a result, there is a significant rivalry
developing between the two men, which will be tested during the
Nathan's Famous contest on July 4.
Even before Kobayashi's medical condition, it was
anticipated that Chestnut would give him a run for his money. George
Shea is the chairman of the International Federation of Competitive
Eating. According to the Free Press, he said Kobayashi's jaw arthritis
just ads fuel to the rivalry, which "has played out at Nathan's and
Krystal over the past few years. If (Mr. Kobayashi) does fall, all eyes
turn to Chattanooga for the rematch."
Following the July 4 competition, Kobayashi and
Chestnut will undoubtedly face off again in five weeks at Krystal
Square in Chattanooga. According to the Free Press, Kobayashi is only
focusing on the July 4 event for now. When that is over, he will
evaluate his health and attempt to be ready for Krystal Square, which
will pay $10,000 to the winner. "I'm going to try my best to recoup for
this contest, then I'm going to rest up and rehabilitate and for sure
I'm going to be at Krystal."
According to the Free Press, doctors have told
Kobayashi that he is facing a long recovery. When the 160-pound
competitor is not eating, he wears a mouthpiece to realign his jaw.
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