The most unlikely Sporting Crossovers
We've scoured the archives for some examples of sportsmen showing how truly gifted they are when competing. And a couple that make you realise they're mere mortals after all.
Following on from Usain Bolt successfully managing to swap the 100m Olympic track with the grassy green of the soccer pitch, we take a look at the stars who have also tried (and occasionally failed) to reap the rewards of a second career in the world of sport.
Athletics and Soccer
Having scored not one but two goals on his soccer debut for Australia’s Central Coast Mariners last week, it appears that Bolt, an eight-time Olympic gold medalist, has found yet another way to showcase his undeniable sporting talent.
Staying true to his athletic roots, and in homage to his 100m sprint world record time of 9.58 seconds, Bolt wore the number 95 throughout his side’s 4-0 win over Macarthur South West United, and made sure to celebrate with his signature pose.
With the rumour mill going into overdrive following the match, and the numerous reports linking him to new two-year contract at clubs across the world, yet more celebrations may be in order for the star quite literally giving the soccer world a run for its money!
Sonny Bill Williams
Rugby and Boxing
Not only was Sonny Bill Williams the second person in New Zealand’s history to have competed in both the rugby league and rugby union, but he was also selected to play in the 2015 - 2016 World Rugby Sevens Series and the 2016 Olympics - thereby creating quite the extensive rugby repertoire for himself.
And - shockingly - that didn’t seem to be enough for the star, who also found the time to embark on a mightily successful boxing career in-between his stints on the field, and is listed as a former New Zealand Professional Boxing Association (NZPBA) Heavyweight Champion and World Boxing Association (WBA) International Heavyweight Champion.
Whether offloading the ball in the midst of a tackle, or unloading combinations in the ring, Williams is able to do both with utter finesse and skill - rightfully affording him professional status in two entirely different sports.
Feeling average yet?
Baseball and American Football
If your answer was yes, it’s about to get worse.
Meet Bo Jackson, otherwise known as ‘Super Bo’. He qualified for the USA’s Olympic Team for track and field in high school, but fate had him destined for greatness elsewhere. So much so, in fact, that ESPN Sports Science have actually named him the ‘Greatest Athlete of All Time’.
Super Bo didn’t just play in the major leagues for baseball and american football, he dominated them. The unassailable combination of power, speed and strength in his play - whatever the game - elevated him beyond traditional levels of elite, and is highlighted by the fact he is only athlete in history to have played at an all-star calibre in both those sports.
Such multi-faceted sporting success, however, is rare, and whilst Jackson, Williams, and Bolt might have made it look easy - these guys below have shown that sometimes it’s best to stick to what you know...
Basketball and Baseball
With 6 NBA Finals MVP Awards, 14 NBA All-Star Game selections, 10 All-NBA first team appearances, and the NBA record for the highest career regular season scoring average (30.12 points per game) - Michael Jordan is arguably the most prolific player to have ever graced planet earth.
A phenomenal talent, who, in 1993, went on to cause a phenomenal shock, by announcing he was to retire from the NBA to focus on baseball.
Although touchingly inspired by his late father’s love for the game, Jordan’s brief spells with both the Birmingham Barons and the Scottsdale Scorpions failed to afford him the same levels of success as his performance on the court did.
Intrigue surrounding the prospects of the star grew, and in 1995, Jordan issued a press release concerning his future career plans, and a potential return to the NBA.
‘I’m back’, it simply read - swiftly bringing to an end a baseball career that was about as extensive as the entirety of that very press release. Basketball, and normality, could resume.
Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff
Cricket and Boxing
The year is 2005. England have just won the Ashes, after 18 long years of defeat. Freddie Flintoff is named ‘Man of the Series’, reinforcing his status as an accomplished and integral all-rounder within the England Cricket Team. He goes on to captain his country, and - despite suffering from regular injuries - becomes one of the sport’s most iconic players.
Fast-forward 7 years, and Flintoff is making his professional boxing debut against Richard Dawson. He is crowned a winner in the ring, but is labelled a disgrace by the boxing community, who claimed his style was amateur (at best). He throws in the towel, and never fights again, becoming one of the sport’s most forgettable competitors. You win some, you lose some.