ESPN Body Issue 2013: Gary Player Tees Off on America's Obesity Problem

Alex KayCorrespondent IJuly 11, 2013

Gary Player made a splash earlier this week when the first photos of the 77-year-old golfer surfaced from his recent shoot with ESPN The Magazine.

According to Chris Strauss of USA Today, the nine-time major championship winner was reluctant at first to appear within the pages of the “Body Issue” but soon changed his tune. He landed a coveted cover spot and is now using it as a launching point to promote fitness in the United States.

According to Strauss, the South Africa native had this to say:

America is maybe the most unhealthy nation in the world because they live on crap. They’ve got the best food in the world, the best farmers and the best food but they live on crap. When [British chef] Jamie Oliver went to America he went to areas where children never had cabbage or broccoli or spinach or vegetables in their life. People giving their children a soft drink and a doughnut to go to school. No wonder academically they’re affected.

Mentioning that he has 15 American grandchildren and adores the country, “The Black Knight” seemed genuinely angry that there is an obesity problem sweeping the land:   

It frustrates me because I happen to have 15 American grandchildren. I love America but I get so upset at the way I see the obesity. I just don’t see how the healthcare system can work. I pray it does but I just don’t see how it can work with this tsunami of obesity.

Player is knowledgeable about the subject, as he earned the nickname “Mr. Fitness” for his dedication in the gym and to health. He mentioned that he still does 1,200 crunches every single morning and can squat 250 pounds.

Player attributes his biggest accomplishment's on the PGA's senior tour to lifestyle and diet more than anything.

Player noted that the greats—Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and more—weren’t able to win the international Grand Slam at that stage in their lives, but he was able to because of his commitment to exercise and health.

Player’s goal is to get young people interested in fitness, look after their bodies and stop them from smoking and drinking “profusely.” If he can accomplish that, the legendary golfer believes it would be an achievement more impressive than all of his major victories.

He puts it all in perspective at the end of the interview with Strauss:

Most of my friends are dead and I’m going on to 78. I’m so fit and strong. I could get a heart attack, that can happen in life. But damn it all man, I get up in the morning at six o’clock. I work on my ranch. I mix cement. This morning, I stood there with a guy, we’re doing a new land. For three hours I helped pick up rocks. Now I’m in such great shape. I climb a mountain, I swim in my pool. I walk and I exercise. I don’t ask anyone on my ranch to do anything that I wouldn’t do. You got to keep your body moving, moving, moving.

There's no doubt Gary Player is living life to its fullest. Are you?