Pittsburgh’s star receiver Antonio Brown recently asked the sports press to refer to him as Ronald. A little odd, sure, but Brown is far from the first pro athlete to make such a request. As you can see from the above tweet, his desire for a name change makes him a kindred spirit of Chad Johnson (formerly Chad Ochocinco, almost Chad Hachi-go), among others. Even though Brown has yet to take the ultimate step and make Ronald official, we’ve decided to compile a list of our favorite professional athlete name changes.
Note: For the purposes of this list we’ll exclude Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, and others who changed their names for religious reasons.
No 5: World B. Free
When he was a kid in Brownsville, Texas, Lloyd Bernard Free was known as “All-World” or simply “World” thanks to his basketball skills. A day before his 28th birthday, the NBA player legally changed his name to “World” to make it official. What he may not have realized is that his new name was a request to Planet Earth to throw off the yokes of bondage. World B. Free…it’s a nice thought.
No 4: Chris Super Duper
Most people would be annoyed if their last name was Duper and they got called “Super Duper” all the time. Not Chris Duper.
No 3: Marvelous Marvin Hagler
Boxers have nicknames. Some of the best are Pernell “Sweat Pea” Whittaker, Hector “Macho” Camacho, and Owen “What the Heck” Beck. Marvin Hagler was one of the best middleweight boxers of any era, and he had one simple request: that boxing commentators refer to him by his nickname, Marvelous Marvin. But for some reason those turkeys just wouldn’t play ball. Marvin eventually took matters into his own hands, legally changing his birth name to his nom de guerre, and everything was marvelous from there on out.
No 2: Chad Ochocinco
When Chad Johnson legally changed his name to his Chad Ochocinco in 2006, claiming that he was celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, many in the sports press were suspicious that he was just promoting himself. Many pointed out that “ochocinco” doesn’t even mean 85 in Spanish, which is true. But rules are rules, and everyone from Skip Bayless to Meryl Streep was obliged to call him by his legal name after the change. A couple years later he flirted with the idea of changing his name to Chad Hachi-Go (Japanese for 8-5), but he never took the plunge. He’s since returned to his birth name, but it was fun while it lasted.
No 1: Metta World Peace
Taking it to a level beyond World B. Free is the final man on this list, Metta World Peace. Rather than merely urging the world to be free with a legal name change, the person formerly known as Ron Artest brought world peace one step closer to reality by naming himself after the warmest concept in existence. A cynic might point out that World Peace once ventured into the mezannine to rough up some surprised NBA fans, but we’ll take all the hope and inspiration we can get. As for Metta, World Peace’s first name, it’s apparently a Pali word meaning goodwill and nonviolence, and not a reference to how World Peace used to refer to himself in the third person, which would’ve been pretty meta.
Did we miss any good ones? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org