It’s never easy for an athlete to acknowledge the passage of time and retire. For boxers, the temptation to continue when they are past their best can be even more compelling due to the eye-watering sums that can be on the table to come back to the ring “just one more time.” However, although doing so can add some welcome zeros to a bank balance, it seldom does much for a fighter’s legacy. Can anyone say Ricky Hatton or Evander Holyfield?
While there have been exceptions who have gone on longer, most boxers are past their peak by their late 30s. Even if boxing has left them financially secure for life, 50 odd years is a long time to be retired, so it’s important to find new challenges outside the ring. Many go on to have successful careers as coaches, and others find that they have a talent for media work. Then there are a few whose careers have gone in completely unexpected directions. Let’s meet them.
Based in Huntington, West Virginia, LeRon Washington spent two years literally slugging it out as a pro fighter before a “sliding doors” moment changed everything. A casual amateur poker player, Washington impulsively decided to enter a World Poker Tour satellite tournament, just for fun. He won, giving him access to that year’s WPT Celebrity Invitational in LA.
Starting out against more than 500 other entrants, the final table saw it down to just Washington and five others. He won the event and his new career as a pro poker player was officially launched. Poker is popular with millions of players these days, so if you think you have what it takes to follow in Washington’s footsteps, check out the best online poker sites through a comparison site such as Tight Poker.
James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith
The WBA Heavyweight Champion from 1986 to 1987, Bonecrusher had already tasted two careers before becoming a pro boxer in 1981, having served in the military and worked as a prison guard.
However, it was in 1996 that he found his true calling, quite literally, as he became an ordained minister. He is also deeply committed to a number of charitable organizations focused on keeping underprivileged youngsters clear of crime and drugs.
The British Light Welterweight Champion in 2012, Woodhouse had enjoyed moderate success as a pro soccer player with Sheffield United and Birmingham City before switching to his “first love” of boxing.
After retiring as a fighter, he switched back to his “second love,” qualifying as a soccer coach and learning his new trade back at Sheffield, before moving on to Goole, Hull and Gainsborough. Last year, he was announced as the new manager at non-league Marske United.
We can’t discuss post-boxing careers without mentioning George Foreman. The George Foreman Grill caused plenty of laughter for the blatant and cynical nature of the endorsement deal, but it resulted in sales of more than 100 million units and counting.
It also earned Foreman about $200 million – the sort of sum that would even make Floyd Mayweather sit up and take notice. Foreman is also a successful author and an ordained minister.