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101 Things To Love About Alabama: Eric “Butterbean” Esch

We’ve got an entirely different sort of countdown this year.

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We’re here, folks: Close enough to the college football season to begin a countdown! With a turning of the calendar’s page and the inexorable march towards August 24th for the season’s start (August 29 for Alabama), we are starting an entirely new countdown.

Why settle for just football memories? There are a lot of things to like, to countdown, to highlight, to entertain. And they will all be Alabama-themed. We have no idea what the others are doing, by the way. We’re going to just rotate these out and see where this takes us. It should be a fun ride.

So, I’ll kick it off this week, and begin Day 101 with the incomparable Eric Esch — the Butterbean. The hefty, aerobically-challenged Esch had a few skills, and they were all calculated to bludgeon human beings and absorb punches.

Esch, born in Atlanta and raised in Jasper (where else, but Walker County?!), began his career as a tough man in Texarkana. But, it didn’t take long for his career to take off — he was the five-time winner of the World Toughman Competition, tallying 36 KOs in his 55 wins.

Esch began his quest for boxing respectability with his first fight in Birmingham. And the Butterbean was an instant sensation — his next bout would be televised. While he pasted soupcans early in his career, the club guys were by no means the only fighters Butterbean devoured in his first 51 bouts culminating in an IBA Super Heavyweight Championship. Butterbean would eventually try his hand in mixed martial arts and professional wrestling. After laying down the gloves, Butterbean dabbled with being an actor, a restaurateur, and finally a reserve deputy in Jasper.

But, for about a half-decade span, it would be Esch’s powerful overhand right and his larger than life personality that made for appointment viewing and which will define his legacy.

Give it up for the Butterbean.

DYK: Butterbean earned his nom de guerre from the constant battle to make weight. Esch had been an overweight child, grew into a 5’11” 425-pound adult, and fought a seemingly-endless war with himself to cut weight for strongman competitions. World Strongman-sanctioned events had a maximum carriage of 400 pounds. So, to get down to that svelte figure before weigh-in, Esch crash dieted on baked chicken and, yes, butterbeans. An iconic nickname was thus born.

101 Days until Football Season.

Roll Tide