When researching this article I made a sad, yet not wholly surprising discovery. Very many boxers struggle after retirement. A number of them suffer from serious health issues, particularly vision, vestibular and brain injuries related to being repeatedly punched in the head, whilst a frightening number had simply died young. A significant number of former boxers also find themselves in financial trouble following retirement, often ending up in bankruptcy. Of the many boxers I researched, at least one in three fell into one of the above categories.
On a slightly less sorrowful note, some boxers have gone on to have very happy and dare I say, ordinary, lives after their boxing careers. Boxing can be highly lucrative for those who are skilled in the art and have some nous when it comes to economics. One of the problems which can face retired boxers, like so many sportspeople, is the lack of back-up skill or trade; many boxers have very little education or specific training in any other field.
In compiling the list I looked for boxers who had gone on to do something unusual and that would not be expected of a former boxer. Therefore, those who went into the coaching or promotional side of the sport have not made this list. I also tried to feature predominantly successful and well-known boxers, I'm sure many unknown amateurs have gone on to have fascinating lives, but I wanted it to be mostly boxers who had respectable careers.
15 James Smith - Minister
14 Sugar Ray Leonard - TV & Movie Work
Named 'Boxer of the Decade' for the 1980s Sugar Ray Leonard is undoubtedly one of the greatest boxers of his generation. Largely through his major bouts with Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler, Leonard became the first boxer to earn more than $100 million purely from fighting. He also won titles in five weight divisions, as well as winning gold at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
13 Mike Weaver - U.S. Postal Worker
12 Lennox Lewis - Entertainment Projects
11 Milton McCrory - Chrysler Corp.
10 Curtis Woodhouse - Soccer Manager
9 Chris Eubank - Fashion Industry
Chris Eubank may not have been a media darling, in fact, many people disliked him throughout his career, but one cannot deny his exceptional boxing credentials. Unbeaten in his first 10 years as a professional fighter, Eubank became the world champion at both middleweight and super middleweight, remaining as a world champion for over five years. His bouts against Michael Watson and Nigel Benn made boxing immensely popular in Britain in the 90s and despite the crowd's best wishes, Eubank never lost to either man.
8 Erik Morales - Parks and Recreation Manager
7 Mike Tyson - Movies & TV
Where to start with Mike Tyson. He exploded onto the boxing scene, and there is no other way to put it. His barbaric style set him apart from conventional boxers and he blew his first 30 odd opponents away. Everything seemed in place for Tyson to become the greatest of all time, even Ali said so himself, but as quickly as Tyson had arrived on the scene he diminished. Having become the youngest heavyweight champion of all time in 1986, the writing was on the wall by 1990 when he lost to Buster Douglas, Tyson was already looking a shadow of the animal he was in the early days.
6 Chuck Wepner - Liquor Store Manager
The highlight of Chuck Wepner's boxing career was a dubious knock down of Muhammad Ali, although it appeared Wepner had in fact stepped on Ali's foot. Regardless, Wepner went the distance against the greatest which is no easy feat, and despite being out-boxed, out-though and out-fought, he showed he had the heart of a lion and battled on. It was for this reason that Sylvester Stallone began writing the script for 'Rocky' shortly after watching the fight.
5 Evander Holyfield - Boxing Adiser
Evander Holyfield had an outstanding boxing career; an undisputed world champion at welterweight and cruiserweight, it is perhaps somewhat surprising that Holyfield lost 10 fights to the 44 he won. It was the ability to bounce back which saw Holyfield become the only four-time heavyweight world champion in history. Over his career, Holyfield beat the likes of Larry Holmes, George Foreman, Ray Mercer, Riddick Bowe and Mike Tyson, although he did not fight most of them at their peak.
4 Nigel Benn- DJ
3 Vitali Klitschko - Mayor of Kiev, Ukraine
The Klitschko brothers continue to divide opinion, even since Vitali has retired. The pair are considered not the most exciting heavyweights and since Lennox Lewis's retirement, the interest of the division has lost public interest. One cannot deny the effectiveness of the brothers though. Vitali, I would say, was the better boxer of the pair, but since they refused to fight one another, it is difficult to say definitively. It is for that reason also, that Vitali never became the undisputed heavyweight champion. He was, however, the first heavyweight world champion to have a PhD and with second highest KO percentage.
2 Marvin Hagler
Marvelous Marvin Hagler was a superb fighter and remained undisputed World Middleweight Champion for seven years, between 1980 and 1987. He holds the record for the highest KO percentage of any middleweight champion and only Tony Zale was undisputed champion of the division for longer. His bouts against Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard were three of the biggest of the era, with Hagler only losing the last, in which he lost his titles.
1 George Foreman - Minister, Entrepreneur
It may not be as little-known as some of the other entries on this list, but the post-boxing life of George Foreman is quite extraordinary. Foreman burst onto the boxing scene like a force of nature. His power was incredible and he knocked both Joe Frazier and Ken Norton out within two rounds. It was those victories which made Foreman the big favorite when he came up against Muhammad Ali. In the legendary Rumble in the Jungle, Foreman was defeated in remarkable fashion after Ali allowed him to punch himself out before Foreman was so tired he could push him over.
Seen as more machine than man before the fight, Foreman was always painted as the square in comparison to the charismatic entertainer that was Ali. After the fight, Foreman's image changed dramatically. He became something of a national treasure in the U.S. and immensely popular. Following 10 years out of the sport, he returned to reclaim the world heavyweight title aged 45, making him the oldest man to do so by some distance.
Foreman put his success down to healthy living and eating and Russell Hobbs Inc. leapt at the opportunity to put Foreman's name to a product. The George Foreman Grill was born around the turn of the millennium and has incredible success, selling over 100 million units. It is estimated that Foreman has made in excess of $200 million through the endorsement deal, far more than he made from his boxing career. Foreman is also an ordained minister and an author.
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