The Ultimate Fighter
Is it possible for a nationwide sports radio breakdown to read, “Alaska Fighting Championship” before the first break? Thanks to former ring announcer Bob Lester, it sure was.
The NBA playoffs were heating up, MLB opening day had just passed and Alaska Fighting Championship 139 was in the books on the morning of April 19, 2018. Seems like an odd combination but the distracting performance of Lester helped make it happen.
David Booker and Elijah Terrell were first up on the UFC FIGHT PASS broadcast and like most other fights on the card, Booker and Terrell went the distance, leaving the fight up to the judges. Fans in the arena, as well as online, waited for Lester to deliver the results as he’s done a million times before.
“Normally I’m really into all of the fights,” Lester said. “I’m watching, I’m making comments about different moves and things that are happening and it just so happened that night we had a little boy who I think was three years old at the time. He wasn’t feeling good so I was on the phone with my wife during this whole entire fight talking about when I could get home and bring home medication and that kind of thing. I wasn’t paying attention to the fight whatsoever.”
After receiving a nudge that the fight was over and running into the cage, Lester recalls hearing “Terrell” yelled to him. Without much second thought, he fired up the microphone and with Elijah Terrell’s name in the forefront of his mind, the scores were the only thing Lester’s focus was on.
The immediate feeling of sympathy for raising the hopes of Terrell only to smash them overpowered any embarrassment the ring announcer may have felt. The guilt was definitely present, but nothing else ever set in.
The next morning, when Lester went to his morning job at the local rock station, is when he realized just how big his mini-blunder had become.
“The next day we get this morning show prep service that goes out to 1,400 stations all across the country and the very first soundbite on there is my announcing the fight wrong,” Lester recalls with excitement. “I went, ‘Holy crap! I think I’m going viral.’ I had no idea that it had made the rounds already. The Jim Rome Show is on after we are in Anchorage and he actually made a sound effect out of it. It’s me just going, ‘My bad!’ He spent like an hour on it and I’m just kind of going, ‘This is awesome!’”
Most ring announcers’ worst nightmare had come true for Lester. There are some people who lean into embarrassing situations to deflect and then there are people like Bob Lester, who just flat out loved it.
Telling friends, watching the videos and even changing his ring announcer name to Bob “My Bad” Lester, it couldn’t have rolled off the veteran’s back any easier. Even the hate he received was a walk in the park. Death threats, attempts to get him fired, he saw it all, but it was nothing he hadn’t seen before.
“When I was announcing my third hockey game here for the professional hockey team that’s here way back in 1995 I announced that our goalie had a shutout going with about a minute to go which I didn’t know was sacrilegious,” Lester said. “You just don’t do that. Lo and behold, the other team scored on us with about 30 seconds left. I had to get a security escort out of the arena.”
When you put yourself in the public’s eye, everyday mistakes are bound to be magnified. Sporadic anger online didn’t replace the amusement that he got from the experience. For those hoping they could hurt his feelings, not a single person in Anchorage held it against him.
“I’m friends with everybody here,” Lester laughed. “People make mistakes. It was ten seconds of apologizing. Chances are if this wasn’t on FIGHT PASS nobody would have seen it. If you can’t poke fun at yourself, you’re going to have a really hard, long, boring, sad, angry life and that’s no way to live.”
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