Rockets Mascot Gets in the Ring

The man behind Clutch takes up the fight game on the side.

But the maturity and the success haven't stopped him from walking the line between funny and over the top. As lovable a character as he may be, he must play to adults much of the time, which means some wild stunts and risqué moves on and off the floor.

During a dance-off routine between his fellow mascots and the Power Dancers at a recent game, Clutch was stripped down to just an oversized pink thong during the song "Sexy and I Know It." And at virtually every game, he tightropes along the barrier dividing the floor from the lower bowl seats, a bit that can be dangerous given the costume's tunnel vision and nearby drunk, rowdy fans. "At times I have to be the dad with the stern voice even with adults," says Davila, Boudwin's right-hand man since 2001. "Once they realize [I am] the bodyguard for Clutch, they back off."

Everyone wants a piece of the furry mascot, particularly the kids who follow him around with Justin Bieber-like adoration. Boudwin indulges them all, signing dozens of autographs and posing for as many photos every game. "The worst thing that ever happened to mascots was the camera phone," Boudwin said, "but I'm never going to turn down a picture or an autograph."

In a repeat of a stunt that seriously injured him in 2007, Clutch belly-flops onto Memphis mascot Grizz.
photo by Jeff Balke
In a repeat of a stunt that seriously injured him in 2007, Clutch belly-flops onto Memphis mascot Grizz.
Boudwin (left) and his assistants, Mike Gonzales (middle) and Dominic Davila (right), plot out a stunt on the floor of the Toyota Center.
photo by Jeff Balke
Boudwin (left) and his assistants, Mike Gonzales (middle) and Dominic Davila (right), plot out a stunt on the floor of the Toyota Center.

Boudwin's enthusiasm has even managed to coax sometimes reticent celebrities out of their shells. He has sat on the laps of Madonna and Jack Nicholson. He's played ping-pong with tennis star Andy Roddick and persuaded Adam Sandler, Kevin Costner and even Tiger Woods to come onto the floor to putt, even though he hadn't told them in advance what he was going to do. "He gets people to come out of their comfort zone," Kholl said.
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Back at the gym before the fight, Boudwin worked a speed bag to warm up. On his way to the dressing room, he spotted his two young sons and forced them to give him a kiss before he got in the ring. Despite the fact that both he and McMahon were in full protective gear, Boudwin took a couple hard hits from the Grizzlies' mascot and faked a knockout after the final bell. "I won one, I lost one," he said of his two sparring matches. It's a far cry from when he started boxing six years ago. "When I first heard boxing, I thought I didn't want to go get beat up," he said.

Now he can see that the energy he gets from boxing makes it easier for him to push his own limits and those of his alter ego, Clutch. Recently he ran the Houston Marathon, and the following weekend he did the Rockets 5k fun run in costume in the rain. "It was brutal," he said. "The 5k as Clutch was harder than the marathon."

Talking with some of the other mascots, particularly older ones like Rocky and Jazz Bear, it's clear they don't believe they can do this forever, the physical toll and the excessive time commitment for an NBA mascot being what they are. But Boudwin seems more energized than ever. "I think they'll be burying me in this thing," he said.

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5 comments
deadmanshand
deadmanshand

played on a hockey team or 3 with Robert in Clear lake a few years back,He was a blast to hang out with.Glad to see everythings going your way Robert!

Craig Hlavaty
Craig Hlavaty

Robert is a great man, and a fun guy to hang with. I went through Clutch camp with some mascots from around the country for the Press, and it was one of the most magical Saturdays in my life.

Chad Bellah
Chad Bellah

Your favorite mascot Bobby Lee and Todd Bazin.

Sir Sting..
Sir Sting..

I'm Sir Sting-A-Lot, mascot for the RGV Killerbees. I am a 4X Best Mascot of the Year from 2009-2012. And I owe it to my mentor, Clutch, he has been an inspiration to us minor league mascots. We have learned a lot from this man. This is a great story. Love you Clutch..

 
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