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Top 10 Boxers who started in another sport

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The majority of boxers dedicate their entire lives to learn their trade, ever since they could walk to get to their position and that is the recommend route to take when looking for a future in boxing to ensure your own success and safety but for these few fighters, they were able to skip right over the conventional route to fight in the ring, although some in this list had stints at amateur level before going pro. To qualify for the list, the boxer must have had a fairly respectful career in his previous career.

10. Solomon Haumono – Rugby – 24-4-2

Formally a rugby player, Solomon and is the son of former Tongan boxing champion Maile Haumono who retired with a record of 13-18-1 and had won the Austrailian heavyweight title. Solomon began his rugby league career at Manly Warringah Sea Eagles where he made 39 appearances before he moved on to Canterbury Bulldogs, making 25 appearances. Further moves saw him turn out for Balmain Tigres,  St George Illawarra Dragons, and in the Super League, he played for London Broncos, making a career total of 159 appearances and getting 120 points. His boxing career first started in 2000, taking time out his rugby league and won his first 8 boxing fights before rejecting an offer to join promoter Don King to return to Rugby. He returned to boxing 5 years later and went on to be 16-0-1 before his first defeat which was to Justin Whitehead, in a fight for the vacant World Boxing Foundation International heavyweight title. To this date, his record stands at 24 wins, 4 losses and 2 draws and has previously won the Australia – New South Wales State Heavyweight title, the WBC OPBF Heavyweight title two times and the Australian National Heavyweight title as well as currently holding the WBA PABA Heavyweight and the WBA Oceania Heavyweight titles.

9.  Holly Holm – Kickboxing – 33-2-3

Holm started off as a kickboxer, winning the amateur national kickboxing championship before going pro in the sport. Her move to boxing saw her become one of the most decorated boxers of all time. She was a multiple world champion and defended her titles 18 times over 3 weight divisions. She won countless fighter of the year’s during her boxing career before her just as successful move to mixed martial arts

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8. Delphine Persoon  – Judo – 36-1-0

Delphine started boxing in 2009 after switching from judo. The lightweight Belgian boxer has an impressive record and throughout her career has picked up an impressive collection of titles. March 2011 she became EBU European Champion with her decision victory over Nicole Boss. 7 months later, she successfully defended her title against Myriam Dellal, on the 1st of November 2011. Persoon then won the WIBF world title with a technical knockout against Lucia Morelli on the 25th of February, 2012 in Roeselare, Belgium. Later that year, she added the IBF world title with her TKO victory over Erin McGowan. In December 2013, she also gained the WIBA & WBF titles after she won a unification fight with Lucia Morelli which saw her become best lightweight boxers in the world, according to boxrec. On 20 April 2014, Persoon won by points to obtain the WBC title from Erica Farias, giving her the titles of all four official boxing federations.

7. Leon McKenzie – Football – 8-1-1

McKenzie was the son of former pro boxer Clinton McKenzie, who held the titles at British and European levels and is the nephew of 3-time world champion Duke McKenzie. Leon was a striker who scored in every professional English football league. Leon spent his entire youth career at Crystal Palace Football Club before breaking into the first team where he 85 appearances and scoring 7 goals over 5 years with brief loan spells to Fulham and Peterborough United. Peterborough then signed him after the loan, of which he scored 9 goals in 15 games, for £25,000. His spell at the club was a lot more successful, scoring 46 goals in 90 league games which earnt him a move to Norwich City for £325,000. He had further moves to Coventry City (£600,000), Charlton Athletic, Northampton Town, Kettering Town and finally, Corby Town. Leon’s start to boxing was decent and was 8-0-1 before his first defeat and has won the International Masters super middleweight title and fought for the English Super Middleweight Title but missed out to 31 years old,  Jahmaine Smyle.

6. Chris Algieri – Kickboxing – 21-3-0

Algieri turned professional at the age of 19 in kickboxing and picked up a record of 20 wins and 0 defeats, He won the International Sports Karate Association Welterweight and World Kickboxing Association Super Welterweight Championships before retiring to take up boxing. In 2008 he turned pro in boxing and recorded 20 straight victories before losing to Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan consecutively.

5. Curtis Woodhouse – Football – 22-7-0

Curtis started his footballing career as a central midfielder at York City where he spent 3 years at youth level before moving to Sheffield United of the first division (Now Premier League) where he made 104 league appearances and getting 6 goals over the course of his 4 year stay before getting a £1,000,000 move to league rivals Birmingham. He also got 4 appearances for the England Under 21’s during his footballing career. He eventually had moves to Peterborough United, Hull City, Grimsby Town, Rushden & Diamonds, Mansfield Town, Harrogate Town, Sheffield FC and Eastwood Town, making 347 league appearances and grabbing 26 goals in his career before making his transition to Boxing. He admitted that boxing was always his first love and claimed he was involved in over 100 street fights. He also claimed he would secretly spar in the gym behind his football managers back after training and would come in the next day. He won his first 10 boxing bouts, 6 of which by way of knockout. Woodhouse went on to win the vacant English light-welterweight title by decision against Dave Ryan. Woodhouse has since turned back to football as a manager.

4. Anthony Mundine – Rugby – 47-8-0  

Anthony Mundine was formally a rugby player, and was the highest paid player in the National Rugby League before he made his move to boxing. His father, Tony Mundine, was a very successful boxer which pushed him in the sporting world. He signed with the St. George Dragons at 18 years old and started his professional rugby career. He was at one point, the most wanted man in rugby but shocked his sport when decided to leave it all behind to start his professional boxing career and was to be personally trained by his father. He took well to the sport and silenced his critics with an amazing performance in the ring and in 2001, he fought Sven Ottke in his first world title for the IBF super middleweight title when he went ahead on points before being knocked out in the 10th round which became his first defeat in boxing. He later picked up the WBA super middleweight title twice, the IBO middleweight title and the WBA interim super welterweight title.

3. Sonny Bill Williams – Rugby – 7-0

Williams is a New Zealand rugby player currently playing for Auckland Blues. He made his professional rugby league debut for the Canterbury Bulldogs and in four seasons, he scored 73 points in 31 matches before moving to Toulon where he scored 33 points in 30 matches. He made his professional boxing debut on 27 May 2009, fighting fellow debutant Garry Gurr, winning by TKO. His next fight was against another debutant Ryan Hogan, a fight he again, won by TKO. He eventually fought for the vacant WBA International Heavyweight title versus Francois Botha. Williams went on to dominate most of the rounds but nearly suffered a knock down in the final round to win the title but was later stripped of it due to inactivity.

2. Seth Mitchell – American Football – 26-2-1

Seth Mitchell originally wanted to play basketball for a living but feared he wouldn’t be tall enough and pursued American Football. At high school level, Mitchell earned a lot of awards and impressed scouts which later landed him over a dozen NCAA Division I football scholarship offers but he opted for Michigan State University. He recorded impressive stats but was forced to give up on his dreams due to an injury. It was one of his former football opponents winning on his professional debut that intrigued Seth into the world of boxing. His brief amateur career saw him grab an impressive record of 9-1 before turning pro, getting his debut 18th of January 2008, with his win over Mike Miller. He then signed with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. He went on to win the vacant NABO Heavyweight Title and Won WBC International Heavyweight title however since his first-round knockout defeat to Chris Arreola in 2013, he hasn’t fought since, with his position being unknown.

Honourable mentions:

Paul Gallen – Rugby – 7-0

Gallen has spent his entire club career at the Cronulla Sharks, making 298 appearances and getting 233 points. He made the switch to boxing and had a short amateur career (2-0) before going pro.

Freddy Flintoff – Cricket – 1-0

Rather a dishonourable mention, in this case, Andrew ‘Freddy’ Flintoff was a very successful cricket player for England. More recently Flintoff has been staring in sky’s ‘A League of their own’ with Co-stars; comedian Jack Whitehall, former professional footballer Jamie Redknapp and host James Cordon since 2010. His intention to make his way into boxing came about in 2012. His boxing fight was laughed at by the boxing community from when it was announced right until the final bell being called a circus. He may have won his fight but was extremely novice in doing so, despite his training with wildly popular boxing trainer Shane McGuigan who has notable trained Carl Frampton, David Haye and George Groves. He was sending wild uncoordinated shots all over the place and had a minimal defence. Flintoff even hit the canvas in his fight but did show great heart in getting right up to win by decision.

1. Vitali Klitschko – Kickboxing – 45-2

By far the biggest boxing name on this list, Vitali had spent a decade in the sport of kickboxing before becoming the boxing heavyweight world champion. Vitali’s amateur kickboxing record stood at an impressive 34-2 with 22 of the win coming by way of knockout. He was defeated in the final of the European Kickboxing Championships by knockout when Pele Reid by a spin kick to the jaw. He became the ISKA World Super Heavyweight. In boxing Vitali had an extremely successful and picked up the WBO Inter-Continental Heavyweight Title by beating Dicky Ryan by TKO in the 5th round, the EBU Heavyweight Title (twice) by beating the German Mario Schiesser and successfully defended his title twice and he won it for a second time in 2000 by beating Timo Hoffman, he won the WBO Heavyweight Title by beating British boxer Herbie Hide by knockout in the 2nd round to become the world champion, he won the WBA Intercontinental Heavyweight Title by beating American Orlin Norris by KO in the very first round of the fight and the WBC Heavyweight Title (twice). He first won the title in 2004 against South African, Corrie Saunders with a TKO victory in the 8th round. The second time he took the title was 4 years later with his victory over Nigerian, Samuel Peter. He held the title from 2008-2013 before retiring from boxing.

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