It is no secret that some boxing fans look down on wrestling as an inferior sport – and sometimes they don’t consider it to be a sport at all. But most people get on with the fact that both sports are hugely entertaining and have more in common than some would think.
In fact, there have been a number of boxers over the years who have felt the need to step out of the confines of their own sport to get a taste of what it feels like to be a pro wrestler. Many of the fighters we profile below are consistently featured on the biggest boxing betting markets. But they just couldn’t pass up the opportunity of switching codes.
Critics may point to these boxers playing at wrestling as nothing more than a publicity stunt. But one of the things that all wrestling fans have in common is their love of a high-profile stunt. So, if boxers want to continue to give wrestling a go – we’re all for it!
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“Iron” Mike Tyson was one of the most feared boxers of all time. He completely revolutionized the heavyweight division during the 1980s as he destroyed opponents to become the undisputed champion. His life outside the ring was just as chaotic and he became known for his violence inside and outside of the sport.
But he was a much-loved fighter and his name on a billing was always going to sell tickets – and that’s why Vince McMahon signed him up for WrestleMania XIV. He was initially just a referee but became a ring enforcer after Steve Austin upped the ante. Tyson also appeared presenting the trophy at the 2020 AEW Double or Nothing event.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
During his career, Mayweather Jr. fought in five different weight classes, won 15 world titles, and retired with an undefeated record from a career that spanned an incredible 21 years. But in 2008, when he was still at the height of his powers, he stepped into the wrestling ring.
A good friend of Rey Mysterio, Mayweather Jr. had already enjoyed a run-in with Big Show before agreeing to a no-disqualification match at WrestleMania XXIV. The fight turned out to be one of the most memorable “celebrity” bouts in WWE history – and Mayweather Jr. kept his unbeaten record, knocking out Big Show thanks to a little help from some brass knuckles.
Some boxers just find that their fighting skills are more suited to the wrestling world than the boxing ring. Mohamed Fahim was a highly-rated boxer in his youth and won the national boxing championship in his home country of Egypt back in 2014. But he saw the opportunity to gain a higher profile in other sports.
Fahim’s talents have been proved in MMA as well, where he has also competed – and won. But it looks like it will be wrestling where he really makes a name for himself. After impressing the WWE, Fahim joined as a development wrestler in 2018 and looks set to become a big name in the coming years.
Some wrestling fans may know of Evander Holyfield mostly as the boxer who had his ear bitten off by Mike Tyson during a championship bout in the 1990s. But his boxing career is a whole lot more impressive than that, as “the Real Deal” is the only fighter to become undisputed champion in two weight classes.
But Holyfield was also a huge wrestling fan when he was a kid and jumped at the chance to perform in the ring in 2007. He was still fighting professionally when he agreed to take on Matt Hardy in a boxing match at WWE’s Saturday Night Main Event XXXV. He won easily – and also managed to put down his trainer for the night, MVP, in the process.
Tyson Fury is one of the current heavyweight boxing champions and probably the biggest name in the sport in recent years. But he has always been closely associated with wrestling as well and has enjoyed a number of high-profile appearances over the years – including a big fight against Braun Strowman.
It all started in 2019 when Fury was spotted staring down Strowman from the crowd. Fury then made a move for the wrestler before being stopped by security. That only intensified the bad blood and the two met at WWE Crown Jewel. Fury won and later made up with the wrestler. He has also made a number of non-fighting appearances at WWE events since.
Jianjun “Taishan” Dong excelled at a number of sports when he was younger, becoming a local star in basketball, hockey, and kickboxing. But, at 7ft tall, it was unsurprising that he was seen as a potential future boxing sensation and left China in 2014 with ambitions of becoming a pro.
Although he was able to win all six of his first fights as a boxer in the US, his size and power earned him an invitation to join the WWE Performance Center in Orlando to see if he could add wrestling to his impressive resume. Unfortunately, Dong decided not to pursue a wrestling career and left the course less than a year after joining.
Considered to be the best boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali enjoyed an incredible career in the ring and became well known for his activism as well as his championship bouts. But his personality and love of the show made him perfect for the world of wrestling too.
Although Ali never actually fought in the wrestling ring, he did make a few appearances at events while still a fighter and actually performed referee duties at the very first WrestleMania event at Madison Square Garden in 1985. He was the greatest of all time when it comes to boxing – but just think how well he would have gone down as a wrestler!
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