Since forming in the 1920s, the Harlem Globetrotters have continued to entertain millions of parents, children, and general basketball admirers with a trademark blend of athletic precision and razzle-dazzle showmanship. For the team's 2014 tour, a rotating roster of Globetrotter favorites—including three female players—takes to the hardwood each game. Spectators might spot veteran guard TNT sharing a behind-the-back pass with dunker Quake, whose high jump once cleared 7 feet, cruelly dashing his dreams of working in a ceiling-fan store. The Globetrotters might also present a study in contrasts with 5-foot-2 Too Tall and 7-foot-4 Stretch, the team’s tallest member.
During each Globetrotters game, youngsters laugh along and witness the jovial jocks performing classic routines of unconventional passing and sudden transmutations of water into confetti. To infuse their visits with an extra shot of unpredictability, the Globetrotters also let fans in each city vote on special rules for every game; past rules have included the use of a four-point shot and the installation of a penalty box. Over the years, similar antics have followed the Globetrotters around the world, including to 122 countries and territories and all six continents on which basketballs grow naturally. The Globetrotters’ extensive travels haven’t gone unnoticed: they’re one of the few teams to earn a spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as ambassadors of the sport.
Hittersbox Baseball lets hitters battle against pros without ever leaving the batting cage. With its ProBatter PX2 Professional Baseball System—one of several training tools used by major leaguers—a virtual pitcher winds up just as a ball is launched through a hole in the video screen by a pitching machine hidden behind it. For a greater challenge, batters can change the location, pitch type, and sequence of pitches, or just close their eyes.
After practice, Pro Mirror video training allows players to relive their swings and analyze any pitfalls by watching five minutes of batting-cage video. These modern takes on traditional baseball practice, which Hittersbox coaches use for beginners and serious players alike, boast approval from owner Jasha Balcom, a former Chicago Cub, as well as an elite list of major-league clients.
An ECHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes, the Gwinnett Gladiators skate constant circles in pursuit of the Kelly Cup. After joining the league in 2003, the team reached the playoffs in seven of its first nine seasons, netting one trip to the finals. Since its inception, the team has played at The Arena at Gwinnett Center, entertaining up to 13,000 fans with fast-paced hockey action and tense moments when the Gladiator's goalie sticks his tongue to the ice at crucial moments.
The country-music-themed Wild Bill's enthralls patrons with a wide range of attractions, including MMA fighting matches, live music, and an in-house troupe of comely dancers, the Wild Girls. During Wild Bill's 41st fight night, Buford, Georgia’s “Little Popeye” Jeff Bedard takes on Charleston, South Carolina’s Victor Ditola in a test of brute strength, mental tenacity, and video-game-inspired button mashing. Also on the card will be two other professional MMA fights—Dustin Chovanic versus Bryan Keller and Scott Farhat versus Chris Cain—as well as a handful of advanced-amateur MMA, amateur MMA, and amateur muay thai bouts, rousing crowds with forceful fist slinging and a series of Rorschach bruise tests.
Featured on Access Atlanta, JapanFest's two-day festival gives crowds of more than 17,000 people a chance to taste varied Japanese cuisine, watch live performances from Japanese musicians and artists, and practice traditional arts in hands-on exhibits. The tunes of Grammy-winning recording artist Yukiko Matsuyama, whose compositions feature the traditional stringed koto, drift through the air as festival-goers watch the hands of professional calligrapher Kotaro Hachinohe bring a large paint-sodden brush down on paper in bold strokes. Pairs of guests can practice the art of petal positioning at the Japanese flower-arranging exhibit, then carefully prune miniature trees at the bonsai demonstration, pruning branches as gingerly as generals clipping budding turrets from the potted tanks in their offices. A range of other participants fills the center's showroom, including anime collectors, kimono crafters, and sake sellers. After perusing the swarm of exhibitors, visitors can reboot with traditional Japanese fare from vendors such as Kotobuki Cafe and Sushi Niko Niko.
Born from the passion and ability of world champion kickboxer Khunpon Dechkampu, Bangkok Boxing Fitness challenges newcomers and veterans alike to enter the rough-and-tumble world of muay thai, otherwise known as the science of eight limbs. Harnessing the power of a fighter’s elbows, knees, hands, and feet, the martial-arts style is a favorite among MMA fighters. Bangkok Boxing Fitness' instructors fully embrace the style, and some are quite decorated, in addition to possessing extensive mixed martial arts fighting experience. Beyond fitness classes, they also lead beginner-friendly sessions that cover MMA techniques.
Welcoming pure fitness-seekers and fighters alike, they've created a lineup of fitness Thai kickboxing and boot-camp classes that focus more on fitness than combat, unlike full-contact stationary cycling.