For these athletes, sometimes, two is better than one
Lead photo by Valery Hache/AFP
Last year, UFC champion Conor McGregor veered away from the octagon for a bit to face (and only to lose against) the undefeated boxing champ Floyd Mayweather. But the MMA striker-turned-boxer isn’t the first athlete to test their mettle in other sports. Here are some of the most notable athletes who transitioned from one sport to another:
Michael Jordan (basketball to baseball)
The greatest basketball player of all time just came off winning his third consecutive championship title in 1993 with the Chicago Bulls when he revealed that he just lost his love for the game. (Yes, it’s weird). He then signed a contract with another team in another sport. Jordan donned the baseball uniform of the Chicago White Sox and joined a minor league affiliate Birmingham Barons where he played 127 games. Earlier that year, Jordan’s father was murdered, urging him to switch to baseball just to fulfill his father’s dream. Two years later, Jordan returned to the hard court and won another three consecutive titles with the Bulls.
Brock Lesnar (WWE to football to MMA)
When Lesnar made his debut in the WWE, the bruiser immediately made his impact felt by dominating the Royal Rumble and becoming the youngest King of the Ring. Years later, Lesnar went on to play football in the NFL in 2004. After his stint with the Vikings, Lesnar switched to UFC to pursue MMA. He won by a couple of knockouts and bagged a heavyweight championship title.
Danny Ainge (baseball to basketball)
Before Ainge became one of the most remarkable players to wear the Boston Celtics uniform, he used to play baseball for the Toronto Blue Jay where he was drafted in 1977. During his baseball years, Ainge played third base and outfield positions with two home runs and a batting average of 0.220. Four years later, he played in the NBA and became a two-time NBA champion.
Deion Sanders (baseball and football)
Sanders is by far the only athlete to ever play in both the World Series and Super Bowl. The two-sport athlete was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1988 and by the Atlanta Falcons in 1989. Because of his immense speed, Sanders was able to perform well in both baseball and football, making a total of 186 stolen bases and scoring a touchdown in six different ways. In 1992, Sanders lost the World Series with the Atlanta Braves. However, Sanders bagged two Super Bowl titles with the San Francisco 49ers in 1994 and with the Dallas Cowboys in 1995.
Usain Bolt (sprinting to soccer)
Bolt’s outstanding career as the fastest man in the world has ended, but his sports career is far from over. Bolt is now fulfilling his longtime dream to play soccer. Last August, the sprinter started to train with the Central Coast Mariners of Australia’s A-League—although without a guaranteed contract. “It has been my dream to play professional football, and I know it will involve a lot of hard work. I always say that ‘anything is possible, don’t think limits’ and I look forward to the challenge,” Bolt said in a statement.