There have been several European footballers who have left their non-combat sport to the combat sport of cage fighting and boxing. Some who have made the switch are England’s Rio Ferdinand, former Ireland international Katie Taylor, Norwich’s Leon McKenzie, and Poland’s Marcin Wasilewski. It seems that the reason why they are switching from the field to the ring is due to retirement. Some players switch to coaching, others kick back and relax, and some want to keep going in the world of athletics.
Players Who Went from Kicking Balls to Kicking Opponents
Ferdinand originally played as a centre-back for Manchester United. Ferdinand competed for 23 years when he decided to become a boxer in 2017. At first, he was denied a license by the British Boxing Board of Control. His name resurfaced in 2020 when Eddie Hearn, Matchroom chief, wanted to set up a Charity match in Old Trafford. The fight would be between Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney, another English professional manager.
Taylor was a player for Ireland’s Senior Ireland’s Football team but has been boxing since she was 12. She and her family have a background in this sport. Taylor became a professional boxer in 2016. She also played internationally for Ireland where she won 11 CAPS for her country and then returned to her passion for boxing.
Taylor helped to get women’s boxing included in the Olympics in time for the 2012 London Games. Taylor is a light-weight champion and has 18 wins. 6 of those wins were won by knockouts causing her to frequently have the Unibet boxing betting odds in her favour.
Wasilewski was a defender for Leicester City where he performed for 21 years. He retired back in November of 2020. Wasilewski plans on becoming a cage fighter, MMA. He was lined up to fight Blazej Augustyn who is an ex-Bolton and Hearts defender. He, however, lost that match. His style of fighting is kick-boxing and he is in the heavy-weight class. Wasilewski had been dreaming of becoming an MMA fighter for a long time.
McKenzie played as a forward for several British clubs. McKenzie scored 100 goals and made 400 appearances during his career. He retired in 2013 and began boxing only 6 months later. He had 11 fights during his short-lived career and won 9 of them. He is now committed to a podcast where he discusses sports and retirement. He even runs his website called Mind Reposition where he talks about mental health.
Is Money Involved in the Switch?
So far, this article has mentioned why some players made the switch. Some of them have a background in the sport and others have interests after charity fights. As far as why else these players are making a switch it seems that money has nothing to do with it. Both Boxing/MMA and Football are world-renowned sports. Both are in the Summer Olympics so both pay a decent salary. Some football players make more than fighters and vice versa.