Whenever you see the words “why do you think” in a question from an instructor, this indicates an opinion question with no real “right” answer. Keep in mind that your answer to this question might differ from mine, but I am happy to share my opinion. Blade (the nickname for Tony D) and his gang decide to pick on Max and Freak because bullies always pick on the weak and the weak-minded.
Tony D, as a leader of a gang of thugs, is always looking for his next prey. Max and Kevin fall right into Tony’s radar because Kevin is weak and Max is weak-minded. Why is this so? Kevin is weak because of his birth defect. Max is weak because of his lack of self-confidence.
What I find interesting about the boys’ first encounter with Tony D and his gang is that it proves Max’s weakness is Kevin’s strength and, vice versa, Kevin’s weakness is Max’s strength. When the boys realize that the group of thugs will not go away, Kevin is brave enough to call Tony D (Blade) a “cretin.” Using such a hard word immediately shows Kevin’s intelligence. While Max stands amazed at how smart Kevin is, Kevin marvels at Max’s strength and asks, “You can take him, right?” This shows that Kevin has great confidence in Max as someone who is strong and physically able. Max does admit that he could take Blade, but he would have to fight the gang as well. Luckily, during this first episode, the police show up before much more trouble ensues. However, the two will meet the gang again just a bit later.
In conclusion, please know that bullies are always looking for those who are weak physically and weak mentally. In this case, Kevin and Max fit the bill. Kevin is weak because of his physical deformity. Max is weak because of his lack of belief in himself. Luckily, the two end up forming the dual character of "Freak the Mighty" which immediately curbs both of their handicaps.