Sports Stars with Tattoos – Part II
The roaring lion
Remaining in the realm of football for a little while longer let’s take a look a Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Rivalling, and perhaps even surpassing, Messi in the amount of skin coverage, “Ibra” has revealed that at first, he was against tattoos and thought they were “bad taste”. Tempted anyway, once the first ink was on his skin, there was no going back. In his autobiography “I am Zlatan” the now 38-year old striker said they became like a drug for him.
The most impressive of his collection of body art is the lion on his back, which looks like it roars when he tenses specific muscles. While not a long roar per se, it is actually quite impressive. The star footballer said he got it because when he steps onto the field he “is a lion”.
The lion tattoo incorporates the ink that was already on Ibra’s back. A Buddhist symbol known as the five deva faces yantra make up the lion’s nose, and its mane weaves around a grey koi fish on his left shoulder blade, and an eagle feather and a sak yant tattoo on his right. There is also a drawing of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man on his left lower back.
The grey colour of the koi is significant as it is the only one of the koi that lives free, rather than as ornaments in a pond. He also has the birthdates of the men in his family on his arm – his father’s, his two brothers’ and his two sons.
Ibrahimovic also made headlines in 2015 when he pulled off his shirt to reveal temporary tattoos of 50 names. He said they belonged to “real people suffering from hunger,” and he made them in support of the UN’s World Food Programme.
Fighting for good
Over to a different kind of football, and to another legend who also stood up, or rather, did not, on the field for the greater good. The former NFL San Fransisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, has been a polarising force for fans of American football not only for his activism and political gestures but also because of his extensive body art collection. More conservative parental elements in the US were worried a heavily tattooed highly successful quarterback would have their kids wanting to get one, or several. Sigh.
Two of Kaepernick’s largest tattoos can be found on his torso. On his chest, he has tribal markings resembling traditional Polynesian tattoos, travelling down over his pecs. They surround large, fluid lettering that reads “Against all odds”. He also has a highly impressive full-back tattoo. A black and grey mosaic, it is an ode to the struggle between good and evil, portrayed by angels above and demons below. According to his tattoo artist, it took two sittings and 18 hours.
He also has a number of other tattoos, with Bible verses and religious sayings, on his arms, the word FAITH running down from his right shoulder, and the words “My Gift is” on his inner right arm, continued with “My Curse” on the inside of his left. On his ribs, Colin has a hand with a serpent wrapping around it as it reaches for money hanging from a tree, representative of the of a Bible verse that says “For the love of money is the root of all evil”.