Dom Joly: Shake, racquet and roll with Elvis

Weird World of Sport
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The Independent Online

Now I presume that you all know where Elvis died. On the bog at Graceland, an undignified end for a man who'd sold over four hundred million records. Did you know, however, what "the King" was doing before his last trip to the bathroom? I was visiting Graceland this week as part of a huge American road trip and discovered the answer. "The King" had been playing racquetball.

I didn't really have him down as a sportsman. I thought the most exercise he'd do was pressing the remote controls on the three televisions in his underground den. It turns out, however, that Elvis was obsessed with the game – so much so that he had his own court built in the grounds of Graceland.

I visited the court, which he had overseen the building of with some pride. Sadly, the actual playing surface was no longer there, as the building has been requisitioned to house some of the thousands of gold and platinum discs he received.

I was, therefore, none the wiser as to how the game is played until I looked it up on the Internet and discovered that it's a sort of mix of squash and real tennis. It's the game that you see people playing in posh sports clubs in Michael Douglas movies. You normally see a sweaty Michael Douglas remove the safety goggles that you are forced to wear and then admit to his happily married friend that he's done something terrible and that he doesn't know what to do...

I'm sure this wasn't the situation with Elvis, but I wish that footage of him playing the game existed. I just can't help wondering what Elvis's sports outfits would look like. There'd be sequins, lots and lots of sequins – that's a given. How about the flares? These are remarkably impractical for sporting purposes, as are capes, platform heels and collars that rise halfway over your head. At least the goggles would not be a problem – he could have a pair specially made that looked just like his trademark sunglasses, so all would not be lost.

Outside Graceland is a myriad of supremely tacky stores selling absolutely everything that you can think of with Elvis's face on it. At least, I thought that they'd thought of everything – there was no Elvis sportswear to be seen.

I really think that they've missed a trick here, it could be the new big thing. Imagine how enlivened Wimbledon would be this year if Andy Murray suddenly appeared in Elvis-Wear. Even the rackets could be customised so that Elvis's face appears on the strings. When Murray wins a point he could fall to his knees while doing a slow windmill action with his racket and ballboys and girls could run up to him and drape him with Hawaiian flower garlands ... surely that would finally raise a smile?

I remember, early on in their beautiful relationship, Posh and Becks went out for an evening in matching tight black leather outfits. This was clearly a nod to the famous '68 comeback shows. Beckham has been known for his exotic sartorial and tattoo taste – how about bringing a spot of Presley to the pitch?

It would be impractical for most players but a goalie could get away with it. How cool would that be? All goalkeepers have to dress up as Elvis from now on – that's the law and I won't hear anything against it. They'd probably have to do the leather look as the flares would block half the goalmouth and be considered an unfair advantage ... but I digress.

Thinking about all this, it's actually obvious that Elvis at least loved to watch sport as he had three televisions in the same room, always on. Apart from being one of the first signs of madness, this is normally only used by avid sports fans trying to follow several events at the same time. Maybe Elvis had a betting account and followed the gee-gees in nearby Kentucky. He certainly loved American football– his favourite team were the Cleveland Browns. He was also something of a boxing fan and there are many photos of him with Muhammad Ali in particular.

I'm wondering about other great entertainers and their sporting predilections now. Is Michael Jackson a huge snooker fan, perhaps? Does he really get into a spot of rugby league now and then? Come to think of it, he was lured to Exeter City by Uri Geller a while back.

Sorry, that sounded a little weird. I'd better stop this now before I get into trouble. Dom has left the building.

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