Boxers aren’t the only professional athletes to end up losing their fortunes and health, but they’re certainly among the most visible. For some reason pugilists have a habit of financial and physical difficulty after hanging up their gloves. Perhaps one of the reasons is because there’s no players’ union in the sport and pension plans aren’t available to most participants. However, after making millions of dollars during their careers you’d think most of them should be able to sustain themselves for the rest of their lives.
This isn’t the case though as several of the world’s top boxers have found themselves in trouble over the years. Most of them manage to dig themselves out of it, but some former boxers aren’t as lucky. As well as losing their fortunes some boxers lose their mental and/or physical health. These former warriors are arguably worse off than their counterparts who have blown their earnings. Those boxers who have blown millions of dollars often lose some of their cash to shady promoters as well as in divorce settlements and by paying child support.
Some guys just like the lifestyle that the fame and fortune brings them and they end up spending the majority of their bank accounts on drugs, alcohol, women, cars, and houses. They’re reckless with their spending and sooner or later it catches up with them. Other boxers find themselves owing back taxes to the government and then returning to the ring to earn the money to pay off the debt. There are cases of boxers going from rags to riches back to rags again, but on the bright side some of them have fought their way out of trouble and are now leading comfortable lives. This list of boxers consists of those who have lost either their money, health, mental health or a combination of the three.
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15 Frank Bruno
Former world heavyweight champion Frank Bruno of England may still have some money left in the bank, but he’s definitely not the same man he was when he started boxing. Bruno has been in and out of mental hospitals since retiring in 1995 and had to fight off a knife-wielding attacker during one of his stays. The 52-year-old had a record of 40-5 with 38 KOs and is best remembered for being stopped twice by Mike Tyson. Bruno has admitted to cocaine use and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He remains a popular figure in Britain, but is still fighting mental illness.
14 Joe Louis
Joe Louis is regarded as one of the greatest heavyweights ever after compiling a record of 66-3 with 52 KOs. ‘The Brown Bomber’ held the title between 1937 and 1949 and earned approximately $4.5 million during his illustrious career. Louis of Lafayette, Alabama was drafted into the army while at the peak of his career, but found he owed the tax man quite a bit of money when he returned to the U.S. Louis’s managers took a good chunk of his money and he also had a large family to keep. Once he found out he was in debt to the IRS he was never really able to dig himself out and kept fighting to pay the government off. He turned to pro wrestling after retiring in 1951 and ended up working as a greeter at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Louis died at the age of 61 in 1985 and is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Former opponent Max Schmeling helped pay for his funeral after Louis found himself in more financial trouble because of a drug addiction. He also spent several months in a psychiatric hospital in 1970.
13 Ricky Burns
Ricky Burns of Coatbridge, Scotland declared bankruptcy in March of 2015 after racking up more than $500,000 in debts. He told the press his assets were about $300 and lost a lot of money by taking his former promoter Frank Warren to court. The 31-year-old from has a record of 37-4-1 with 11 KOs and is a former two weight world champion. He’s still active and will likely be back in the ring soon to earn some cash. He’s a former super featherweight and lightweight titleholder and at least has the chance to solve his financial woes if he continues to fight.
12 Rocky Lockridge
Rocky Lockridge of Tacoma, Washington is a former WBA Super Featherweight world titleholder who went 44-9 in the ring with 36 KOs. He won the title in 1984 by stopping Roger Mayweather in the first round and reportedly made $2.5 million during his career. The 56-year-old Lockridge appeared on an Arts and Entertainment network reality show titled ‘Intervention’ and was shown breaking down while his family held an intervention for him. Lockridge became addicted to drugs after his career ended in 1992 and became homeless and also suffered a stroke. Lockridge hopes to one day become a boxing trainer.
11 Leon Spinks
Leon Spinks of St. Louis, Missouri will always be remembered for upsetting Muhammad Ali in 1979 for the world heavyweight crown in just his eighth pro fight. The former Olympic gold medalist known as ‘Neon Leon’ retired with a record of 26-17-3 with 14 Kos and earned an estimated $4.5 million in the ring. Twenty years after beating Ali, Spinks was homeless and had been arrested several times, mainly on drug charges. Spinks claims that he spent most of his boxing earnings on drugs and at one point was working in Columbus, Nebraska as a janitor at a local YMCA. Spinks's son Cory is a former junior middleweight champion.
10 Dariusz Michalczewski
Dariusz Michalczewski of Poland is a former world cruiserweight and light heavyweight champion who retired with a record of 48-2 with 38 KOs and about $35 million in his pocket. He went unbeaten in his first 12 years in the ring, but was a loser in a couple of divorce cases outside of it. His ex-wives drained half of his earnings and the 46-year-old Michalczewski said he spent the other half on racehorses, homes, and cars. The boxer’s only two pro losses came in his last two fights before retiring in 2005.
9 Iran Barkley
Fifty-four-year-old Iran ‘The Blade’ Barkley of the Bronx, New York won the WBA Light Heavyweight title during his career along with the IBF Super Middleweight and WBC Middleweight belts. He retired with a record of 42-12 along with 27 KOs. Barkley reportedly made $5 million in his fistic exploits. He’s best remembered for knocking out middleweight champions Tommy Hearns in 1988 in a huge upset and then beating him by a split decision in their rematch. Barkley also took on the likes of Roberto Duran, Michael Nunn, Nigel Benn, Gerrie Coetzee, Trevor Berbick and James Toney and retired in 1996 after six straight losses. Barkley was reported to be homeless and living on handouts in 2010 before moving into a halfway house and trying to get back on his feet.
8 Wilfredo Benitez
Wilfredo Benitez of Puerto Rico holds a boxing record that most likely will never be broken as he won the WBA Junior Welterweight crown when he was just 17 years old in 1976. ‘El Radar’ took the title by beating 30-year-old veteran Antonio Cervantes, becoming the youngest world champion in boxing history. Benitez turned pro at 15 and went on to face the likes of Carlos Palomino, Bruce Curry, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran. He retired in 1990 with a record of 53-8-1 with 31 KOs. However, seven of his losses came in his last 16 bouts. Benitez earned approximately $6 million during his career and ended up with dementia and being taken care of by his sister. He receives government assistance and donations to get by and spends most of his time in a wheelchair. It’s been alleged that Benitez's father mismanaged a lot of his son’s money, but the boxer also spent quite a bit of it himself. Benitez won three world titles and is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
7 Riddick Bowe
Riddick ‘Big Daddy’ Bowe of Brooklyn, New York is a former undisputed world heavyweight champion who was beaten just once in his pro career. The 47-year-old year-old retired with a record of 43-1 with 33 KOs and earned an estimated $50 with his fists. Bowe’s only defeat came at the hands of Evander Holyfield, but he avenged it by beating Holyfield twice. Bowe spent most of his money on family members, friends, cars, and homes and at one point had to sell his boxing memorabilia at flea markets. Bowe claims some of his money was lost due to bad advice from business advisers. He won the silver medal at the 1988 Olympics when he was stopped in the second round by Lennox Lewis. He is one of 13 children and joined the Marines after retiring. However, he quit three days later.
Bowe has had several run-ins with the law and was charged in with kidnapping his estranged wife and their children. He eventually served 17 months in prison and was last seen in the ring back in 2008. Bowe will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame this summer.
6 Felix Trinidad
Forty-two-year-old Felix Trinidad of Puerto Rico turned pro at the age of 17 and retired with a record of 42-3 with 35 KOs in 2008. He’s a former welterweight and junior middleweight world champion and a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Trinidad reportedly went broke in 2014 after one of his business advisors blew $63 million of the boxer’s money on government bonds that more or less became worthless. However, after making a deal with the bank Trinidad was reportedly allowed to retain his assets as a way to generate income.
5 Trevor Berbick
Former heavyweight champion Trevor Berbick was a boxer who seemed to lose the plot somewhere along the way. Berbick beat Muhammad Ali by decision in Ali’s final bout and was later knocked out by Mike Tyson in 1986 when Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champ at the age of 20. Berbick had won the WBC crown earlier that year by a decision over Pinklon Thomas. He retired with a record of 49-11-1 with 33 KOs in 2000.
Berbick had several problems with the law and was sentenced to five years in prison in 1992 for sexually assaulting his family’s babysitter. Five years later he violated parole and was deported from the U.S. Berbick somehow made it back to the States, but was deported again in 2002. He was involved in a feud with former opponent and champion Larry Holmes and the two were filmed when they got into a street brawl in 1991. Another feud resulted in Berbick’s death when he was murdered in Jamaica in October of 2006 at the age of 52. One of the two assailants turned out to be his 20-year-old nephew who received life in prison.
4 Edwin Valero
Edwin Valero of Venezuela is another boxer who apparently lost his mind at one point. Valero was 28 years old in 2010 and had a pro record of 27-0 with 27 KOs. He was the current WBC Lightweight Champion and a former WBA Super Featherweight titleholder. Valor was known as a bit of a street thug and somebody who took a liking to drugs and alcohol. However, he had everything going for him as a boxer and multi-million dollar fights were on the horizon. Everything was lost when his police discovered the body of his 24-year-old wife in April of 2010. Valero was arrested as the prime suspect and allegedly admitted to killing her. The next morning he was found hanging by his pants in his jail cell and was pronounced dead in an apparent suicide.
3 Tommy Hearns
International Boxing Hall of Fame member Tommy Hearns is one of the best boxers in history and participated in some epic battles with the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Wilfredo Benitez, Marvin Hagler, Virgil Hill and Iran Barkley. The 56-year-old from Memphis, Tennessee retired in 2006 with a mark of 61-5-1 along with 48 KOs under his belt. He also managed to win eight world championships in six different weight divisions and made about $40 million during his career.
Hearns ended up in debt when the taxman informed him that he owed $250,000. He had to auction off his boxing memorabilia and other personal possessions to pay off the IRS in 2010. He also spent a considerable amount of money by supporting his family members over the years. Hearns’ son Ronald is also a professional boxer and Tommy is reportedly a reserve officer with the Detroit Police department.
2 Evander Holyfield
Former undisputed world heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Evander Holyfield of Atmore, Alabama lost quite a bit more than part of his ear during his pro boxing career. It’s estimated that “The Real Deal’ made approximately $250 million in the ring and lost just about all of it, mainly due to dishing out child support to his 11 children from six different mothers. His numerous divorces have also cost him a pretty penny. The 52-year-old Holyfield has a career record of 44-10-2 with 29 KOs and has a habit of returning to the ring when he needs money with his last fight being in 2011. He had his 109-room $10 million mansion foreclosed in 2008 and also donated part of his earnings to the church.
1 Mike Tyson
‘Iron’ Mike Tyson retired from boxing as a former undisputed heavyweight champion with a record of 50-6 along with 44 KOs. It’s estimated that his fortune reached close to $400 million and he blew most of it on drugs, alcohol, cars, homes, divorces and child support. The 48-year-old from Brooklyn, New York was one of the highest-paid athletes of his generation and also made a ton of money via endorsements. Tyson claims his former promoter Don King took him for about $100 million, but the pair settled out of court in 2003 for just $14 million. He filed for bankruptcy because of his debts and took fights to pay off the IRS. Over the past few years Tyson has been able to earn money by writing his autobiography, appearing in movies and starring in a one-man, Broadway style show.
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