They put together epic performances atop the ring. With their fiery combinations, unmatched tenacity, and fearlessness, boxers lay it all out on the line each time they compete, for the delight of the fans watching.
Naturally, a lot of their success has had to do with athleticism. These gifted fighters also loved to play other sports when they weren’t fighting. They are natural athletes who had the ability to excel in any physical undertaking.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they have dabbled in other sports, whether before or after their boxing careers. Let’s take a look at a handful of fighters who explored different sports outside of the ring.
Today, Evolve Daily shares 6 boxers in history who were good at other sports.
1) Anthony Mundine
Australian Anthony “The Man” Mundine is a former multiple-time IBO and WBA World Champion known for his athleticism and his rivalries with fellow Aussies Danny Green and Daniel Geale. However, before becoming a boxer, Mundine was actually the highest-paid player in the National Rugby League (NRL). Media even once called him “arguably the greatest crossover athlete in boxing history.”
He made his rugby league debut at the age of 18 and then walked away from the NRL at the age of 25 to pursue a career in professional boxing. Mundine even once called out Floyd Mayweather Jr. for a bout, but the latter never responded.
2) Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder
WBC Heavyweight World Champion Deontay Wilder is six feet seven inches tall and has the body and wingspan of an NBA player. It’s not surprising then, that Wilder is actually amazing at playing hoops. In fact, when he went to college, Wilder dreamed of playing football or basketball for his home state of Alabama.
Wilder’s raw athleticism would have no doubt been assets if he had chosen to be a football or basketball player, but the undefeated American instead chose boxing. Today he is widely regarded as one of the most dominant heavyweights of the modern era and is known for his unbridled power and intense physicality.
3) Chris Algieri
Known as “The Fighting Collegian”, former WBO junior welterweight champion Chris Algieri is best known for his upset victory over Ruslan Provodnikov, which earned him a fairytale shot at Manny Pacquiao. He eventually lost to the Filipino, but not before coming into popularity on HBO’s 24/7 series.
Algieri, unknown to many, was also a world-class kickboxer. He was an undefeated ISKA world welterweight and WKA world super welterweight champion. Needless to say, Algieri is a gifted combat sports athlete that experienced the best of two worlds.
4) Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao
It’s no secret Manny Pacquiao loves playing basketball. In fact, if he wasn’t the legendary boxer, Pacquiao says he may have dedicated his time to becoming the best basketball player he could be. He even has his own semi-professional basketball league in his hometown of General Santos.
The eight-division boxing world champion even became a professional basketball player in 2014, suiting up for the Philippine Basketball Association’s Kia Picanto. Aside from basketball, Pacquiao is also known to be exceptional at Billiards and holds regular private tournaments in his home.
5) “Hammerin’” Hank Lundy
American professional boxer Henry “Hank” Lundy is a regional champion from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is a former WBO-NABO, NABF, and UBF lightweight champion.
But before donning a pair of boxing gloves, Lundy’s first love was American football. He even earned a partial scholarship to attend Kutztown University. Lundy declined, after discovering that his aunt could not afford to send both he and his sister to school. He told his aunt, “Send my little sister, and I’ll find another way.”
At the age of 18, Lundy discovered boxing and that paved the way for his future in the sport.
6) James “Lights Out” Toney
Former multiple-division world champion James Toney is one of the most talented boxers in history. Toney was once referred to by legendary coach Freddie Roach as the most naturally gifted and talented fighter he had ever worked with. “Lights Out” was just blessed with God-given athleticism that allowed him to fight with such a unique style in the ring.
However, during his high school days, Toney was also a star football player. In fact, he received many scholarship offers to D1 schools during his time as a cornerback. He declined, saying: “I wasn’t a team player and wasn’t good at taking orders. So I went into boxing.”
The rest was history. Toney went on to become a middleweight, super middleweight, and cruiserweight world champion.