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Following Tyson Fury's recent wrestling debut for WWE in Saudi Arabia, we have been taking a look back at other sports stars who crossed over into the world of professional wrestling.
Floyd Mayweather Jr
Widely considered the best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet, Mayweather raised some eyebrows when he turned up in WWE in 2008. ‘Money’ jumped a guard rail and attacked ‘Big Show’ to set up a massive WrestleMania showdown with the seven-foot wrestler. Witness by over 74,000 fans in Orlando, Mayweather ‘won’ the match with the aid of ‘brass knuckles’ but that would not be his last appearance in WWE. The boxer also appeared on RAW the following year, helping MVP and Mark Henry beat Big Show and Chris Jericho in a tag team match.
With his great defensive play, trademark multi-coloured hair and controversial antics Rodman was one of the biggest stars in basketball during the 90s. The five-time NBA champion’s flamboyant personality meant he was tailor-made for professional wrestling and between 1997 and 1999 he made numerous appearances for World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Rodman joined the hugely popular New World Order (nWo) faction and teamed up with the legendary Hulk Hogan for a couple of tag team matches – one of which featured another NBA star in Karl Malone. In 199 he took part in his first singles match, taking on another wrestling legend, ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage.
McMichael first made his name in the NFL, winning the Super Bowl as part of a 1985 Chicago Bears team that many consider to be the greatest team of all time. After retiring from the game he joined WCW as a colour commentator on Monday Nitro, but his time behind the desk was brought to an end by a storyline that called for him to step into the ring. McMichael teamed up with NFL star Kevin Greene to take on Ric Flair and Arn Anderson at the 1996 Great American Bash, and ‘Mongo’ shocked the world by turning on Greene and joining the famed ‘Four Horseman’ stable. From there he embarked on a singles career and even won the US Heavyweight Championship before quitting the company in 1999.
OK, so Lesnar did become a star in professional wrestling when he burst onto the WWE scene back in 2002, but it is fair to say the 37-year-old has also become a legitimate star in sport too. Having failed to get an NFL career off the ground he headed to the Ultimate Fighting Championship and in only his third pro MMA bout he won the UFC heavyweight title form Randy Couture. However, illness wrecked his MMA career and Lesnar made a return to WWE in 2012.
Try winning an Olympic gold medal with a “broken freakin’ neck”. Well, that is what Kurt Angle did when he represented the United States in freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Games. In 1998 he signed a developmental deal with the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) and looked to follow in the footsteps of many amateur wrestlers that have gone on to become stars in the pro game. After struggling to adapt early on Angle finally got the call-up to the main roster in 1999, and he has gone on to become one of the biggest stars in the industry.