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What does it take to be a boxing legend?

Last week I weighed the pros and cons of stepping into the ring with Floyd Mayweather for $75 million, but that was in a world where (a) lamp-dwelling genies exist and (b) we waste our wishes on dumb things like getting beaten up for money instead of just asking for the money outright.

This time, I’m going slightly more realistic: what does it take to be a top-tier boxer? And is it worth having a shot at the title? Obviously Mayweather and McGregor didn’t start out being offered the GDP of a Third World nation. They both worked their way up from Cutty-from-The-Wire-style gyms to international press conferences.

For starters, you’ve got to have the constitution to go all the way. This encompasses a few different things – a jaw that can take the hits, the stamina to keep fighting after your body wants to give up, the discipline to run further and faster than Forrest Gump as part of your daily training, the coordination to work a skipping rope better than a Year 3 schoolgirl with a headful of rhymes, and the self-discipline not to slap every loudmouth prick who picks you at the local on your one cheat day.

Compare this to CEO life, where all you have to do is balance business nous, high-level diplomacy skills, on-a-pin decision-making, comprehensive knowledge of your organisation and customer base, tactical disavowal of rogue employees releasing internal memos on biological suitability for given occupations, and how to wear a suit. (Of course, you sometimes have to wear a suit when you’re a boxer, too.)

But even if you ditch the boardroom for the bout, like Mundine switching from WIN Stadium to wins against – let’s see, Antwun Echols – you’re not necessarily bound for a Scrooge McDuck level of existence.

According to former super-middleweight champion Carl Froch, most boxers are done by their late 30s, and only three per cent of all professionals can live off their in-ring earnings once they retire.

That’s a very different scenario to climbing the corporate ladder and getting stuck on a lower rung than you expected as you slide into retirement, disgruntled and backbiting against your immediate manager, who doesn’t know shinola and is only here because of his dad, oh I could tell you some stories, believe me.

Even assuming you have the skill and determination to make money from the sweet science, and are lucky enough to avoid a career-ending injury for long enough to earn a decent payday, it’s still odds-on you’ll be out of the ring by 40 – and those skills aren’t exactly transferrable to other fields.

To put it another way, you might see some ex-boxers in commentating positions, investing their winnings wisely and/or slinging fat-knocking grills, but most professional pugilists never saw a fraction of $75–100 million in their lives. Which means that no matter which one of them climbs out of the ring victorious on August 26, both Mayweather and McGregor have already proved themselves beyond exceptional.

1 Comment

  1. The Roach

    I like the interest in the boxing. however, has author even set foot in boxing gym?
    If no, id rather read article about topic from someone who has training.
    No dis, but nice try

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