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Wilson Sporting Goods has had hit products and celebrity endorsers before, but there has never been a star quite like "Wilson," the volleyball thats become a Hollywood hero since Tom Hanks befriended it on a deserted island in the movie "Cast Away."
"Were in disbelief at the amount of attention its getting," said Chris Considine, general manager of the companys team sports division.
The sporting goods manufacturer hopes the publicity can help its bottom line. Its executives think the movies plugs could boost business for volleyballs and other Wilson goods, and expect to market a ball with a face like Hanks buddy.
"This wont translate into anywhere near the sales that Michael Jordan or Vince Carter or Venus and Serena Williams generate for us," Considine said. "But from a sheer exposure standpoint, nothing weve ever done can match Cast Away. "
One of the three original "Wilsons" used in the movie recently sold in an online auction for $18,400.
Even without a speaking line, "Wilson" gets plenty of screen time as Hanks only companion on the South Pacific island where his character, FedEx executive Chuck Noland, spends four years otherwise alone after surviving a plane crash.
Cuban great retires: Felix Savon, one of the greatest boxers in Olympic history, retired and will become coach of Cubas national boxing team.
The retirement of the three-time heavyweight Olympic champ was announced yesterday by the Cuban Boxing Federation and the official Prensa Latina news agency.
No reason was given for the decision by the 33-year-old fighter. However, international rules stipulate that a fighter cannot compete in the Olympics or world championships after 34.
Savon won his third Olympic gold medal in Sydney, Australia, last year, joining compatriot Teofilo Stevenson and Hungarys Lazlo Papp as the only Olympic fighters to win three gold medals.
The 6-foot-6 Savon, who won his other gold medals in 1992 and 1996, is a six-time world amateur champion.
Star goalie suspended: By leading the Dallas Stars to the last two Stanley Cup finals, Ed Belfour went a long way toward erasing his reputation as "Crazy Eddie," the goaltender who could be wacky or wonderful.
Now, a second case of bizarre off-ice behavior in less than a year has left him suspended indefinitely and is threatening to revive that nickname.
Belfour left the team in Boston on Saturday, after arguing with coach Ken Hitchcock over participation in an optional pregame practice.
"Ive spoken to Ed, and at this time he feels he is not ready to join the team," general manager Bob Gainey said. "We have placed him on suspension as we work toward a resolution."
Belfour, 35, was arrested in March for fighting with security guards and police at a Dallas hotel. According to police reports, Belfour spit and kicked at officers, who used pepper spray to subdue him.
Ruckus in Rome: Fans fought with each other and police yesterday, resulting in 20 people being sent to the hospital and scores of others injured inside and outside Romes main stadium.
The violence started when Napoli fans vandalized two city buses, taking them from the train station to Stadio Olimpico, smashing windows and damaging roofs and doors.
Once the game began, Napoli and Lazio fans clashed with police and threw objects on the field. Police waded into the crowd, swinging clubs at taunting fans. By the time it was over, about 100 spectators received first aid and at least 20 more had been sent to the hospital with broken bones and bruises.
Napoli won the match, 2-1, prompting more unruly behavior.
Sprint champs crowned: Chris Witty and Casey FitzRandolph, Americas top hopes for speedskating medals in the 2002 Winter Olympics, won titles yesterday in the U.S. Sprint Championships at West Allis, Wis.
Witty won the 500 meters in 39.75 seconds and the 1,000 in 1:17.51 yesterday to clinch her fourth consecutive championship during the two-day competition.
FitzRandolph won the 500 yesterday in 36.00 to clinch his fourth sprint title and first since 1997.
Joe Bugel, former head coach of the Oakland Raiders, on where their fans come from:
"They load them on the bus at the county jail and bring them on in."
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