careers for former athletes

Know some of the most successful retired boxers

Boxing is one of the riskiest sports in the world but also is one of the most popular, producing huge amounts of money and incomes for all those people who are involved in it and making boxers great superstars. But boxing is a very short career, so professional fighters must think carefully about their future and life after their last round.

A lot of boxers end their professional life with debts and economic problems, but there are some of them taking advantage of what they did as active sportsmen building amazing businesses in multiple industries like fashion, sports, entertainment, among other things, increasing their earnings in an excellent way.

Related: How to become an actor after being a fighter by Jason Hanold

George Foreman

Nicknamed as “Big George”, Foreman is considered one of the best boxers of all times, winning 76 fights of 81 and achieving two times the heavyweight championship. At the present, he is one of the most successfully retired boxers. “Big George” is a great businessman and widely recognized reverend in the Christian church. In 1999, two years after he left boxing, Foreman sold his name rights to Salton, Inc. for $138 million dollars, who created the George Foreman Grill, an electric grill with more than 100 million of sold units worldwide. It is estimated that Foreman has earned more than $200 million dollars with the George Foreman Grill.

Besides his entrepreneur life, Foreman is a well-known minister in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, where he preaches since 1980. Moreover, “Big George” was part of the HBO Sports’ boxing team, broadcasting some important fights in different categories.

In 2003, Foreman was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, a well-deserved recognition for his remarkable career.

Vitali Klitschko

He was born in Belovo Adskoe, Kirghiz SSR, Soviet Union. Vitali is currently the Mayor of Kiev, Ukraine and leads the Kiev City State Administration since 2014. Before his political career, Klitschko was an outstanding boxer, winning three times the heavyweight championship and achieving one of the best knock-out averages in heavyweight boxing history (87.23%). In addition, Vitali is the only heavyweight world champion who was never knocked down.

In 2006 he started his governmental career founding the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR), becoming through the years in an important political figure, announcing in 2013 a possible candidate for being the Ukrainian president.

Currently, he has a good acceptance by the people and is one of the principal figures defending the association contract between Ukraine and the European Union.

Charles Wepner

Better known as Chuck Wepner, was an unknown boxer until he had the opportunity in 1975 to fight against Mohamed Ali. After this fight, Chuck became a known heavyweight fighter. Due to his fight with Ali, Wepner inspired the movie, Rocky, starring for the famous Sylvester Stallone.

Currently, he manages a prominent liquor store called Majestic Wines and Spirits in New Jersey, where he is an expert in wines and other liquors, besides, he is invited to different events in multiple Casinos to be photographed with people and other boxing figures. In 2012, ESPN made a documentary about his fight with Ali called “The Real Rocky”.

Lennox Lewis

Called the Lion, Lennox is one of the best boxers of all times, winning the heavyweight championship three different times. He has an amazing combat record with 44 fights, 41 wins, and 2 losses. Lewis also won the golden medal in the Super-heavyweight category in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

After his retirement, Lennox has participated in different films and music videos. In 2001 he had a boxing scene in the Ocean’s Eleven movie and in 2006 he acted in the movie Johnny was. In 2003 he appeared in the music video “All I have” with Jennifer Lopez and LL Cool J. In 2008 he was part of the NBC’s show “Celebrity Apprentice”.

Besides his participation in movies and music video clips, Lennox competed two years in the World Series of Poker.

Sugar Ray Leonard

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Image courtesy of Penn State at Flickr.com

He is without a doubt one of the greatest fighters in boxing history, winning world titles in five different categories and achieving an incredible combat record of 36 wins and only 3 losses. In 1997 he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

After his retirement, Sugar has been boxing analysts for multiple TV channels, like ABC, ESPN, HBO, NBC and CBS. Furthermore, Leonard has participated in multiple TV commercials for different companies like Nabisco, Ford or Coca-Cola.

In 2001, Sugar started a boxing promotional company called Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing, Inc. working in a partnership with ESPN in the boxing show “Sugar Ray Leonard and ESPN 2 Presents Friday Night Fights”. Additionally, Leonard has appeared in different TV shows like Dancing with the Stars, L.A. Heat, Hell’s Kitchen, the Renegade and Married with children. He also acted in movies like The Fighter and I Spy.

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Life After Sports: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

So many athletes are now changing career paths once they decide to retire from their athletic careers. In a previous post, the list was headed by once big names in sports, and now even bigger names in business or entertainment, which you can read more about on the Jason Hanold WordPress page. Someone who made the list and should not shock any of us is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He has made quite a name for himself as an actor after becoming famous as a WWF wrestler, even though he actually started off as a football player. The Rock’s career has definitely sky-rocketed and it seems to only be getting bigger. So, let’s take a closer look at Johnson’s career as an athlete and his current career in entertainment.

Where did he start off?

This California native comes from Samoan and Black Nova Scotian heritage and while growing up lived in a few places including Hawaii, New Zealand, Pennsylvania and Miami. His passion for sports started to become evident while living in Pennsylvania where he began to get involved in football, playing for his high school team in the East Penn Conference, track and field, and wrestling. It’s no surprise he showed interest in wrestling since he is a third generation wrestler. His father Rocky Johnson and maternal grandfather, “High Chief” Peter Maivia, were pro wrestlers and his father actually had a historic role in the WWF as being part of the first black tag team to win the World Tag Team championship. When he started off his athletic career, he was more prospected as a promising football player and even received various offers from different college teams. He finally decided to attend the University of Miami, where he got a full scholarship while playing defensive tackle. An injury sidetracked his football career, and he was quickly replaced by current NFL star Warren Sapp. He graduated college in 1995 and met his wife while he attended the college. The same year he graduated, he accepted an offer to play on the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League but was later cut only two months later.

WWF stardom

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Image courtesy of irfan.nasir05 at Flickr.com

1995 was a busy year for the worldwide famous actor. He then decided to start training for a pro wrestling career. Besides the already mentioned wrestlers in his family, he has tons of other family members that are part of the wrestling world and when making the decision to go down this career path himself his father actually ended up training him, despite initial resistance. For the first couple of years, he fought under various names and started to win in different federations, until he got noticed by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and signed with them in 1996. He actually started his WWF career as Rocky Maivia, combining his father and grandfather’s name. He had a rough start when fans ended up getting quite hostile, but then joined the stable “The Domination Nation”. But in a matter of a couple of years, a feud brought an end to the wrestling stable. The Rock since then has been a part of various wrestling stables and had on and off participation in the WWF. The Rock became the WWF champion, but later had less and fewer appearances towards 2009. In 2011 and 2012, he had more recent appearances now as the host of WrestleMania XXVII. In 2012 and 2013, he reclaimed his title as WWE champion for eight times, making a win over CM Punk.

Up and rising mainstream popularity

Johnson started to become popular in the mainstream with appearances on Saturday Night Live, music videos like Wyclef Jean’s “It Doesn’t Matter”, and other TV shows like “Star Trek: Voyager” and “That 70’s Show”. He started getting noticed and appeared on various entertainments lists from Entertainment Weekly to Forbes. He made it to the big screen in CGI with a small role as the Scorpion King in the Mummy Returns, which actually led to a spin-off “The Scorpion King”. Since then he has made it to covers of magazines like Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, and TV Guide. His wrestling career continues to be his legacy and he will go down in history as one of the greatest, and one of the best box office wrestling. After his role in 2002 in “The Scorpion King”, he has participated in many movies ranging from comedy to drama to action. Although, some say he truly went big with his Fast and Furious franchise, he has also been in other movies that have proved to the world that he is here to stay as an actor. He has currently been working on several movies and TV shows such as Central Intelligence, Fast 8, Baywatch, and the upcoming release of Jumanji, besides his role in Ballers the HBO comedy-drama. He is now also producing, including the aforementioned HBO hit. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has definitely earned a spot in Hollywood with his talent.

Is there life after sports?

Hanold Associates LLC CEO, founder and managing partner Jason Hanold definitely knows what talent is. Since his job is to find the ideal candidate for his clients, Mr. Hanold always bases his parameters for choosing a potential future employee upon their strengths and their capabilities of adapting and enduring throughout a selection process. Since talent comes in many forms, it is plausible that sportsmen and sportswomen, for example, can adapt their talents for what lies ahead of their sports life and have a successful career. But, what do they plan on doing after retiring the sports life?

Michael Phelps, for instance, stated before the Rio Olympics — held in Brazil — that those would be his last Olympics competition. Although he had said the same thing before the London Olympics, he has said that this time he is retiring and putting aside his goggles. British biker Victoria Pendleton and Chinese diver Wu Minxia both decided they had already gotten to the time to hand over the baton to the upcoming generations. After years of sacrifice and absolute dedication, there seems to be a discrepancy as to what does a sportsman or sportswoman do once they have decided to end this journey: several have already planned something in advance, long before retiring, and several seem to embark themselves upon the unknown.

In the case of Michael Phelps and Victoria Pendleton the path seems to be much smoother since both were gold medalists at the Olympics — London and Rio —, thus, it is highly likely that both of them will be “exploited” by the media, which is obviously lucrative for both parties. Actually, Phelps has been already given international media coverage and sponsored several brands around the world.

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Image courtesy of Peter Burgess at Flickr.com

There are other scenarios where athletes are practically forced to retire, as their bodies can no longer take the burden of an international or domestic competition. British gymnast Beth Tweddle, for example, stated after the London Olympics that she would not participate in the latest edition of the Olympian contest, since her body would more likely be incapable of enduring four more years of training in order to be physically — and mentally — fit for the Rio Olympics 2016.

Other athletes face retirement unexpectedly, for example, those who suffer an ugly injury that forces them to stop competing and move forward with their lives. American and gold medalist gymnast Shawn Johnson had to resign herself with “just” four Olympic Medals since she had to forfeit the London Olympics due to a knee injury. Every athlete ends up facing the uneasy transition from the competition to the real life. Oftentimes athletes are not even prepared to go from this corner to the other since this process embodies a huge change for them: there is a saying that athletes die two times: the first death is going into retirement. Studies have proven that retired athletes are more likely to suffer from depression and other related mental health issues. They are also more prone to substance abuse, eating disorders and suicidal tendencies than the rest of the population.

British biker Bradley Wiggins have spoken out about how his father, former biking champion Garry Wiggins, went on to suffer from several mental health issues including depression, and went through a downward spiral after retiring which ended with his death in Australia while being an alcoholic. Sports psychologist Victor Thompson stated that many athletes retire without having achieved their goals and they feel that all the time invested in such endeavor was not worth it. Most of them feel that their only chance is gone.

Mr. Thompson has summarized this feeling by saying that many athletes actually feel that they are not that good, thus, they are always afraid to fail. It is oddly hard for them to realize what they have achieved throughout their careers, and even much harder to have a positive perspective of their achievements. They are their worst critics and victims of themselves.

After realizing that for most athletes the transition between sports and real life suggests a burden they are not prepared to carry, former athletes have created specialized groups that aim to make this change much easier. Sports psychologists are now more prepared to attend the increasing demand of athletes that somehow are lost in the wake of their future life.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and several other sports organizations have put together specialized programs that seek to help athletes with alternative careers once they retire. Coaching, studying and advising are amongst the most common activities ex-athletes end up doing. British athlete Kelly Holmes, who retired in 2005 after winning two gold medals at the Athens Olympics in 2000, created the DHK Legacy Trust Organization in order to help athletes who feel overwhelmed by the future.

Since athletes are strongly focused on their careers, sometimes they end up being addicted to them or, simply put, addicted to sports, which is why sometimes they try to come back from retirement. Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe retired in 2006 at the age of 23. He, however, tried to come back and classify for the London Olympics but was incapable to succeed.

Famous retired soccer players and their lives now

Soccer players are maybe one of the most respected and famous athletes in the world, in almost in every country.  Soccer as a game and sport has crossed borders and has gone to places where soccer has been a way of getting along. Furthermore, soccer is one of those games, or the only game maybe, that awakens such passions in people and fans and sometimes that passion can be violent or exaggerated, extremist in a sort of way.

In that same way, soccer players are famous and are in the spotlight, even more than models, TV stars or even Hollywood stars. Take for example Cristiano Ronaldo and the entire world that revolves around him. He is almost a superstar and of course an amazing soccer player.

But happens when they reach the end of their career? What do they do? Some of them do get into a little trouble with authorities or with substances but is a minority. Others go to do regular jobs or office jobs as any other regular Joe like Dutch International soccer player  Berry van Aerle who is a postman.

And other fortunate ones can continue in their sport like the case of Zinedine Zidane or Luis Enrique that used to play in the Spanish league and now they coach the same teams where they used to play and with amazing results.

Let’s take a look at some retired soccer players and what they are doing at the moment.

Gianfranco Zola

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Image courtesy of Ciaran McNulty at Flickr.com

 

Gianfranco Zola is an Italian football player that was also awarded an OBE – Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire and was a hero and celebrity in the Premier League with Chelsea. The fans even voted him as one of the best players of the club.  His number, 25, has only been worn once and remains a legend within the team. He went from Chelsea to Cagliari in Italy where he retired in 2005 not after helping the team get promoted to the Italian Serie A and scoring two goals against Juventus in his last game as a professional soccer player.

After retirement, he has been busy. He has had ups and downs in the soccer managerial career where he coached the Italian under 21 team from 2006-2008 to then  go to West Ham United’s staff in 2008 where the adventure did not go very well and he was fired in 2010. He then went to coach Watford. He left the English team in December 2013 and then went to coach Cagliari (he had a bad start losing against Palermo 0–5). He was then fired in 2015 because he couldn’t get the expected results and the team was still in the relegation zone.

Gerd Muller

The German player Gerd Muller was one of the best forwarders in the Bundesliga. After he retired he had a few alcohol problems but he could overcome the issue.  He then went to work as the manager of Bayer Munich II. Adidas dedicated him a line of clothing and the Rieser Sportpark, in Nördlingen the team that saw this amazing football player rise, changed the name of their stadium to “Gerd-Müller-Stadion” to honor his legacy. Unfortunately, Gerd is suffering from Alzheimer disease.

Pelé

Everybody in the soccer world knows Pelé and his legacy. We couldn’t even summarize all he did when he was a football player in Brazil and after he retired. He has done so many things for young players and for the sport that it is impossible to put it in few words. He has even been the UNESCO’s goodwill ambassador and UN ambassador for ecology and environment and was appointed as the Honorary President of the New York Cosmos in 2010.

Today, Pelé makes around $30 million a year from endorsements and his businesses. He works directly with brands such as Time Warner, MasterCard, Procter & Gamble, Pizza Hut and Pepsi. He even has his own brand called Pele Sports & Marketing. In 2002, he even was the spokesperson for Pfizer pharmaceutical talking about the benefits of Viagra. He is still part of the philanthropist world and continues to work for UNICEF and other children’s organizations.

Ronaldo

Ronaldo could have been as big as Pelé but injuries didn’t allow him to do so. For many this is the original greatest and most complete forwards of all time. He was called “the Phenomenon”. He was more of an individualistic attacker and was extremely powerful, fast, technical and an almost flawless scorer. He had to deal with alcohol a little bit but he is now sober and is the co-owner of the Brazilian A1 team. He founded a brand called 9ine, a sports marketing agency and joined the organizing committees for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and for the 2016 Olympics.

Before you leave, be sure to also check this post about Olympic Gold medallists who already retired.