Dan Gross: Coughlan broke teeth in past Bowl

Posted: January 23, 2008

BREAKING TWO teeth on a bone during Wing Bowl 10 didn't stop "Gentleman" Jerry Coughlan.

The 37-year-old from Clifton Heights was the Philly Champ at last year's Wing Bowl 15, winning a Suzuki SK4 by polishing off 167 wings, only 13 shy of overall champion Joey Chestnut.

Coughlan, who stands 6-feet-2 and weighs 385, works as a respiratory therapist doing home care with Praxair Healthcare.

The Gentleman got his nickname years ago from Anthony Gargano, who noted that Coughlan was eating his five Denny's Grand Slam breakfasts like a gentleman during an in-studio stunt.

Coughlan told us yesterday that he's become a nighttime eater to prepare for Wing Bowl, which is held at 6 a.m. "My big meal is anywhere between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. and I'll eat at 4 a.m."

Coughlan's mostly practicing on pizza, strombolis, "stuff that's filling to stretch the stomach," which he follows up with anywhere from a half-gallon to a gallon of water. But rarely, Coughlan says, will he eat wings. "Wings I stay away from. Though I just did 50 in 6 1/2 minutes."

"If I was known for something it would be cleaning the bones," Coughlan says, boasting that WIP's Rhea Hughes declared his wing bones "pristine."

The Monsignor Bonner High grad and his crew won the best-entourage award last year for their Reverse the Curse theme in which Coughlan emerged as William Penn from a City Hall-shaped structure. He didn't want to reveal details of this year's theme, but says it'll be great.

Coughlan and his crew will be using their prize from last year - dinner for 10 at Chickie's & Pete's - as a pep rally on Feb. 1.

His "passion" for Wing Bowl

Finally, we're not the only person at the Daily News who takes the Wing Bowl seriously.

Sportswriter Kerith Gabriel shares his tale of how he came to appreciate the contest:

"I was 19, and he was a contestant named Sloth. And I attribute my passion for Wing Bowl to him.

"For me and I am sure countless others, one of the highlights of being at the annual glutton festival is the anticipation of an eater saying 'uncle' by way of spewing partially digested chicken all over the stage. And to this day for me, no one did it better than Sloth. I remember being up for most of the night, catching a minute or two of sleep between underage binge drinking and listening to 50 Cent. It was my first Wing Bowl, me a sophomore at Drexel and three dorm buddies who convinced me that the daylong fiesta of chicken, alcohol and scantily clad women was worth the price of the already free admission. But by mid-morning, I was too tired to care.

"However, leave it to the exploitation of one's weaknesses to add to the excitement, and there on the jumbo screen was Sloth, gurgling and covering his mouth, his face mixed with the agony of indigestion and the determination of a pseudo-athlete. At that moment when I realized his plight, so did he and the next thing I remember is the loudest roar from the crowd all morning as Sloth spewed for what seemed like an indeterminable amount of time the largest cascade of vomit I have ever seen. Every year, that image is put up recurrently on the jumbo screen and since that day I haven't missed the event."

Champ Chestnut visits town

Joey Chestnut was in town Friday at 610 WIP practicing on P.J. Whelihan's wings. He told us the wings are smaller than those from Rib Ranch (Castor & Aramingo) that he'd devoured at past Wing Bowls. They're prepared very well, but are much smaller, he said, so he thinks that polishing off 200 is definitely achievable. He's confident, but isn't slacking off Bill "El Wingador" Simmons' chances. "I just have to get into the right rhythm," said Chestnut, who planned to spend the weekend hanging with some eater friends at a few strip clubs. *

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