Boxer Curtis Woodhouse lived out the private fantasy of countless athletes on Monday, forcing a confrontational Twitter tormentor to back down by turning up at his house.
Woodhouse, a former professional soccer player in his native United Kingdom, snapped upon receiving a series of taunting tweets from a user named "The Master" after losing his English lightweight title to Shayne Singleton in a controversial bout last weekend.
"Whats funny u put so much effort in, sacrificed all that time and failed to defend your Mickey Mouse title," was one of the more palatable messages from the @jimmyob88 handle, part of a stream of rants laced with offensive language.
Yet the keyboard warrior soon had the wind taken out of his sails when Woodhouse apparently tracked down the user's address and drove to his street, believed to be in Sheffield in the northern English county of Yorkshire.
Upon his arrival, Woodhouse tweeted a photograph of the street sign, stating: "Right Jimbob, I'm here! Someone tell me what number he lives at, or do I have to knock on every door."
At that point the clearly (and understandably) flustered Twitter "troll" decided discretion was the better part of valor, and hastily retreated into a neutral corner of cyberspace, offering a series of apologetic messages and insisting his taunts were merely intended in jest.
Woodhouse took his leave and it is understood that the pair never met face to face, but by the time the fighter had returned home his actions had gone viral on the Internet.
The extraordinary exchange prompted a flood of social media attention for the 32-year-old, who turned his back on soccer at the age of 26 after becoming disillusioned with the sport, despite earning a significantly higher salary than he subsequently managed in boxing.
Former world champion boxer Ricky Hatton messaged Woodhouse to voice his amusement, as did notorious English soccer player Joey Barton, who now plays for Marseille in France. Barton, who has routinely become involved in Twitter arguments in the past, went so far as to describe Woodhouse as "my hero."
Followers even likened his vigilante approach to that of actor Liam Neeson in the somewhat painful "Taken" movies that remarkably avoided the Oscars radar.
Ever since Twitter became part of the culture of modern sports, athletes have lamented their susceptibility to unfettered abuse, with pro tennis player Rebecca Marino citing cyberbullying as a major reason behind her retirement at the age of 22.
Woodhouse took a more confrontational approach that might not be to everyone's taste, though given his antagonist's trembling reaction it seems unlikely that he will be troubled by the same source again.
On a personal note, this is not only one of the more unusual stories I have written, but also one of the most surprising. I dealt with Woodhouse on several occasions during his soccer career and he always came across as being especially mild-mannered, to the extent that it was a major surprise when his change of career became known.
But it goes to show that everyone has their limit – and that a professional fighter might not be the most sensible target for aspiring Twitter tormentors.
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