Feeling Minnesota: Jamal James assesses the truth behind his home state stereotypes

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They shoot from the womb in North Face jackets. They talk funny. The men all dress like Paul Bunyan while the women sport the dimensions of Babe the Blue Ox. These are but a few of the stereotypes that blanket Minnesotans like snow does their home turf at least 13 months out of the year. But how much truth is there to these clichés? We thought we’d ask a local boxer, Jamal James, to find out.


What's in a hot dish? Tater tots and happiness, apparently.

Jamal James, an undefeated 147-pound prospect, is a promising fighter and an even better sport. As the Minneapolis native prepares to throw down with Dominican KO machine Juan Carlos Abreu on Friday (Bounce TV, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), he took a little time out to play truth or B.S. with the predilections of his fellow North Star Staters.

5 They all hate the movie ‘Fargo’

Plenty of cinephiles would testify on the Bible—i.e. the Criterion version of Porky’s Revenge!— that Joel and Ethan Coen’s tar-black comedy about a bumbling car salesman who gets himself into a gherkin-sized pickle is a total classic.

But in the land in which the film is set, the response it tends to elicit is as stone-faced as ol’ Shep Proudfoot himself.

Some natives felt like they were being goofed on via the character’s syllable-stretching accents and aww-shucks dunderheadedness.

In the immortal words of Marge Gunderson: “Oh, I just think I’m gonna barf.”

James, though, has seen the flick and digs it. As for all that “you betcha” dialect, well, there’s some truth to that.

“When you grow up in the city here in Minnesota and you go to other places or watch movies, you’ll hear the stereotypes about the way people talk. You’ll be like, ‘People from Minnesota don’t talk like that’ with the ‘Aye’ and ‘Dontcha know’ and ‘Oh yaah’ and all that stuff.

“Then, when you go up north a little bit, you kind of do hear that accent. I never really looked for it, but you hear it here and there. It’s funny to me."

As Jerry Lundegaard would say, “You’re darn tootin.’”

4 They’re obsessed with all things Prince

Why is Minnesota the Land of 10,000 Lakes?

Probably because of all the purple rain that keeps drenching the place.

That, and the abundant tears from all those weeping doves keeps many a swimmming hole overflowing.

And the locals wouldn’t have it any other way.

“People in Minnesota love Prince, man. I’m a Prince fan, my mother is probably one of the bigger Prince fans that I know.

“I got to see him live at the Target Center a few years back and he’s an excellent performer. He was very daring when he came out, he had a whole different type of sound.

“Coming from Minnesota, everybody loved his style, especially the women. If women like him, of course the guys are going to go where the women are at, you know? He’s definitely big here.”

Well, not to nitpick, but the fella stands 5 feet 2 inches, so technically he’s not big anywhere.

3 They bleed Vikings purple and hate Cheeseheads

Rats like cheese, and one gets the sense that the average Minnesotan would prefer the company of disease-peddling rodents than anyone who decorates their dome with a faux block of cheddar.

Yeah, the former may have given us Black Death in the 14th century and, even worse, Chuck E. Cheese, but Packers fans?

The only thing good about them is that they slop back all the Old Milwaukee so the rest of us don’t have to.

“You’ve got people who moved here from Wisconsin, so any time there’s a Green Bay-Vikings game here, you’ll see half green, half purple-and-gold and they’re just going at it.

“It’s pretty funny. Don’t let the Vikings beat Green Bay, because anybody from Wisconsin is definitely going to hear about it if they’re in Minnesota." 

Maybe so, but it’s been all crickets of late: the Pack has gone 9-1-1 against the Vikes this decade.

“Even though they fall short sometimes—most times—people still love the Vikings, man.”

2 They fiend for something called “hot dish”

We’re not sure what a hot dish is exactly, other than an attractive woman in a 1950s speakeasy.

But in the Gopher State, apparently it’s a casserole of some sort, a Mardi Gras of the taste buds with tater tots in place of cheap plastic beads.

And like said trinkets, the ladies love them.

Mom, keep your top on!

Even though the hot dish wasn’t a household staple in his home growing up, James confirms the popularity of these artery-clogging eats.

“I’m mixed, black and white, so any time I went to the white side of the family for Christmas or something, that’s definitely what they would have.

“Once I started working and talking to more people, it seemed like everybody—at least the women I knew—was very knowledgeable in making their hot dish and having their own little recipes. It is a big thing here.”

And so shall be the waistlines.

1 They’re ridiculously nice

Finally, the most obvious one.

Minnesotans have a rep for being so damn friendly, if one of them caught you getting frisky with his wife, he’d tell her to go put on some fresh mascara, maybe a dash of perfume, to make herself a bit more shag-worthy.

“There’s some truth to that, of course.”

Now, James isn’t suggesting that you run out and buy a plane ticket to Duluth so that you start getting fresh with any dame with a ring on her finger.

What he’s saying is that folks where he comes from tend to be on the accommodating side.

“People here, if you ask them for some help or something like that, they usually tend to help you out.

“Even with something as simple as driving, I’ve noticed that if I go to bigger city in another state and you’re trying to get over, you’ve gotta be aggressive.

“Here, people slow down, let you over. If you pull up at a four-way stop sign, everybody’s looking at each other like, ‘Yeah, go ahead,’ sitting there for five minutes, waiting to see who goes first. That’s kind of funny.”

OK, but you hit dudes upside the head for a living. How does that jive with that Minnesota niceness?

“It ends in the ring, of course.”

Hearty laugh.

Of course.

For complete coverage of James vs Abreu, visit our fight page.

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