'The Amazing Race' Racer Akbar Cook Sr. addresses his behavior on the Race
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/08/2022
The Amazing Race Racer Akbar Cook Sr. has addressed criticism of his behavior on the Race and some viewers' beliefs that he was mean and condescending to his wife Sheridan "Sheri" Cook.
The "Married Educators" and former college athletes were eliminated from The Amazing Race during last week's episode when they arrived at the sixth Pit Stop in Corsica in last place out of the remaining six teams.
Although Akbar had arguably been hard on his wife throughout the season -- as he was often shown pushing her to perform better and move faster -- it was Akbar's poor performance in a Roadblock that resulted in their ouster.
Sheri toldGold Derby in a recent joint interview with her husband that while she thought the editing of their race was "fine," watching their elimination back stung a lot more for Akbar, who has faced backlash in recent weeks for his sharp tongue.
"I don't want to read the comments because I don't want anything to taint the experience... I actually told Akbar to stop reading comments... He would sit there and read comments and sometimes go back and forth with people. I'm like, 'Why are you doing that? It's not even worth it,'" Sheri said.
Akbar revealed that even his own mother gave him a hard time once he returned home from The Amazing Race.
"When we came home, my mother said this to me, 'I'm glad it wasn't a Sheri leg that got y'all out.' I gotta wear that," Akbar said.
"I knew that we got out because I didn't do well on the leg and I wouldn't have it any other way. I wouldn't want her to think that way. When you watch it back, you always wonder how you're gonna be portrayed."
While Akbar wasn't portrayed in the most flattering or positive light, he apparently doesn't have a problem with it -- and he has no regrets.
"People are questioning like, 'Oh, he talks to her that way?' You know what I mean? We'd already established I gotta work on my tone, but the message was there. I wouldn't change no message I said the entire race," Akbar claimed.
"The message was there, but the tone was not appropriate for some of those times... I definitely gotta watch my tone. I definitely wondered what my kids -- biological and non-biological -- and what both our families are gonna say, but other than that, we know we love each other. We're married, we did this for fun and we had a great time."
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Akbar also said during a separate interview withParade how he and Sheri were never going to put on an act for the cameras or hide their true feelings.
"We weren't going to go to the Race and become this fake couple. That's not what we are. We've been together 23 years," Akbar told Parade.
He elaborated, "I'm an ultimate competitor. I've won and coached on every level, from robotics to little boys basketball to high school to state championships. Sheri did it too! When we play cards or Monopoly, we act the same way. Like, 'Why do you want to buy a house like that?' That's who we are."
Akbar insisted that his "message" was never supposed to be a personal attack against Sheri.
"No one can look into my messages and say I was trying to beat up o my wife. I'm like, 'Listen; you are a superhero. To my family, to the kids that you service, and our own kids.' Harvey Dent says, 'You either die a hero or live long enough to become a villain.' I'd rather become the villain to let anybody see her not at her strongest. I made her a superhero," Akbar claimed.
Akbar shared how he and Sheri have been going through a lot at home, more than probably anyone realizes.
"She is a teacher of second graders; I want you to think about this. The teacher of second-graders in a pandemic; they've been together since kindergarten. They look at her as a superhero. They're looking for any way to quit," Akbar explained.
"I don't want them to watch us on there, and we're out first leg because we were jogging. So it was like, if she didn't see what was at stake, I want her to know."
Akbar, however, apologized for the way his words sometimes "came out."
"But I would never change the message," he reiterated. "And she did that! She's more of a superhero now to America because of it. So I'm the villain. And she's Wonder Woman."
Akbar pointed out how he and Sheri are "yin and yang" and they just naturally "argue" and "bicker."
"We both knew when the other person had enough. So that's when she pulls out the, 'Shut up.' She said it so much [we] should put that on a shirt right now. But we are fans of the Race. So we strategized," Akbar shared.
Akbar had told the cameras while running the Race that nagging his wife during challenges was a way of trying to "bring the athlete" out of her and motivate her.
When looking back on the team's demise on The Amazing Race, Akbar said he essentially lost the $1 million for his team when he had to navigate his way through a canyon, down steep slopes of rocks and through rushing river water.
Akbar explained how it was difficult to move through the obstacle course because of his weight and the additional heavy gear he was forced to wear.
"[Penn Holderness] is 6'5" in way better shape than me; he's not carrying that much weight. He just looked at me before I even went up the hill and was like, 'Bro, that is going to kick your ass.' And I'm just like, 'Oh my God,'" Akbar recalled.
Akbar said most of the Racers were in better physical shape and were able to catch up to -- and eventually pass him -- and so he just decided to do his own thing after receiving the warning from Penn.
"We knew we couldn't beat anybody in a race... I was so exhausted from that whole thing. And then psychologically, I thought, 'I let my team down.' That was my psyche on it," Akbar said.
"It was my one chance to make up for the things that we had done. I wasn't able to do it that night."
The five remaining teams on The Amazing Race's 33rd season are "Internet Personalities" Penn and Kim Holderness, "Best Friends" Ryan Ferguson and Dusty Harris, "Flight Attendants" Raquel Moore and Cayla Platt, "Father and Daughter" Arun Kumar and Natalia Kumar, and "Twins and Radio Hosts" Marianela "Lulu" Gonzalez and Marissa "Lala" Gonzalez.