While it pains for us to admit it, our idols in the ring are not getting younger. Actually, with each day, and each fight, they are inching one step closer to retirement. Let’s not forget that fighting – no matter if it’s boxing, MMA or professional wrestling – is an activity that takes its toll. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that sooner rather than later, professional fighters retire only to spend their olden days doing… what?
Most of us probably imagine retirement as sitting back in a lawn chair playing blackjack at the best-known online casino Canada has to offer. This is a surprisingly relaxing outlook – blackjack is a fun game with many twists and a surprising sense of accomplishment. But sitting idly on the patio, playing casino games on a tablet is probably not the first thing these boxing legends had in mind when they decided to leave the ring for good.
The first time George Foreman retired was right after a devastating defeat he received at the hands of Jimmy Young, back on March 17, 1977. Foreman had a habit of knocking out his opponents early – not this time, though. By the end of the bout, he was exhausted, falling to the ground. In his dressing room, he felt as if he was going to die, so he prayed to God, though he wasn’t religious up to that point. The big man then collapsed to the ground. When he came around in the hospital, he was a changed man. He became a born-again Christian, an ordained minister, and he didn’t set foot in the ring for a decade.
He returned to the ring in 1987 and had 34 more fights before calling it quits for good in 1998. Before that, in turn, he became the face of the Spectrum Brands portable grill that bears his name to this day.
The grill has become his most lucrative endeavour to this day: most of his $250 million net worth (approx) has come from this campaign.
In the ring, you can’t make do with force alone – you need mobility, anticipation, cunning, and reflexes. Much like in politics, by the way. This is probably why it’s not surprising that some of the biggest boxing legends have exchanged the glove for a velvet seat in their countries’ parliament.
Vitali Klitschko was the second-longest-reigning WBC heavyweight champion of all time who ended his boxing career with 45 of his 47 fights won (41 of them with a knockout).
He was one of the most popular European boxers ever – and this has probably worked in his favour when he decided to pursue a political career.
Klitschko was appointed adviser to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko back in 2005, while still very much active in the ring. In 2014, he earned a double victory: he became a member of the Ukrainian Parliament and won the mayoral seat of Kyiv as well. The latter is the title he holds to this day.
Do boxers have an affinity for politics? If we are to judge based on a sample size of two, the answer seems to be “yes”. Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao was, apparently, attracted by the same fierce ring Klitschko was – politics.
Back in 2007, he announced his bid for a seat in his home country’s House of Representatives. He lost the match – but he didn’t give up. He ran again and was elected in 2010, knocking out the incumbent congressman that was a member of a long-running clan of ruling politicians in his region. He didn’t stop at Congress, though – he ran for Senate in 2015 and won. He assumed office in 2016, and he is holding his seat as we speak, because he decided to juggle both positions. Now, he’s preparing for a new round of elections in 2022. It’s a strong possibility that Manny will be the latest great to step away from the ring, to try his hand at a new challenge…the highest office in his home land.