NFL players who turned to boxing

Over the years, there have been plenty of NFL players who turned into boxers, either through choice or when their NFL careers came to an end and they decided they would go into another sport.

If you are considering using your Fubo deposit bonus gambling on boxing, a good look through a list of upcoming fights might turn up some boxers who had a different past in another sport, including potential former NFL stars.

It makes some sense when you think about it – the physical demands of both sports are pretty intense. I’m sure that if Tyson Fury had grown up in America, he would have had the chance to get into the NFL or at least had some trials. A 6’9” tall prize fighter would have potentially had what it takes to get to the very top of the game. As it is, he grew up in a family that loves boxing.

Let’s dive into some of the NFL players who turned boxers and the routes their careers took.

Alonzo Highsmith

Highsmith was a professional footballer with the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Bucs before he went into boxing. He had one of the longer boxing careers in terms of numbers of fights, when compared to some of the other NFL players to give it a go.

In his time playing football, Highsmith was a running back and came through the University of Miami, starting out at the Houston Oilers. Unfortunately, the sport proved to be too demanding on his knees and caused him a lot of injuries, so he retired early and decided it was time to take up boxing.

He started out in 1995 and for around three years, he built a record of 27 wins out of 30 fights, which is not to be sniffed at, and he only lost once. Alonzo is definitely one of the more successful to have given boxing a try.

Charlie Powell

We’re going back a bit now, with Charlie Powell being a professional footballer way back in the 1950s, and pursuing a boxing career that spanned into the 60s. He played for the 49ers as well as the Oakland Raiders before deciding to turn to boxing.

He was from San Diego and is actually the only player on this list to be a professional at both football and boxing simultaneously. This is something that the NFL teams would definitely not allow today. During this time, in March 1959, in a televised bout, he knocked out Nino Valdes of Cuba, who was at the time the second-highest ranked fighter in the world in the heavyweight division.

Powell had a relatively impressive career and even fought the great Muhammad Ali. He passed in 2014 after a long retirement.

Dominic Breazeale

We’re bending the rules a little here, as Breazeale wasn’t actually a pro footballer, despite being very impressive for Northern Colorado and having a tryout with the New York Giants. Breazeale is included as he is a current boxer who has had some huge fights, including title challenges against Brit Anthony Joshua and huge-hitting Deontay Wilder. Breazeale also made the Olympic team for the US back in 2012.

Some people are born to be great at sports, and while Dominic did not get to the point of being a professional footballer, he is a very impressive fighter.

Mark Gastineau

Mark Gastineau may be best known as part of the “New York Sack Exchange” of the Jets, way back in the 80s. After a successful nine years in New York, he headed to the BC Lions in Canada and then turned to boxing in 1991, where he had 18 bouts, with a very respectable 15 wins, two losses and one no-contest.

Gastineau also took part in a fight between two former NFL players when he was knocked out in just two rounds by Alonzo Highsmith, mentioned above in this article.


These are some of the relative success stories, but there are a lot of other NFL players who have had a try at boxing. It’s a good way for them to stay fit, too, so a lot of players get used to boxing while they’re in their career, as a fitness technique. However, this will always be with protective equipment and without risking too many injuries.

Playing in the NFL, it is likely that someone has a lot of the physical attributes a heavyweight boxer needs, so it is always an option to switch sports.

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