Many know Manchester United and English football sensation Wayne Rooney for his sublime exploits within the beautiful game, but not many realise the multi-talented Scouser could have ended up as an elite level protagonist within the boxing ring.
We all saw that now infamous video last year of where Rooney appeared to be knocked out in a skit boxing match with former United team-mate Phil Bardsley. But if you dig a little deeper into Rooney’s past, you’ll see that boxing was a sport very much synonymous with his youth and upbringing.
Boxing and football have always been true working class sports that anyone can enjoy and participate in, and Rooney coming from a renowned fight city like Liverpool, indulged in both as a youngster.
At the age of 14 he actually fell out of love with playing football for a period of time, and was quite the aspiring amateur fighter.
If it wasn’t for Everton’s former boss Colin Harvey, he might very well have stuck with the sweet science as the story goes, as Harvey persuaded him to choose football and the rest as they say, is history.
It is little wonder however that Rooney took to the sport of boxing at a young age, due to the advanced physical and mental gifts he possessed.
You only had to look at him when he was sixteen to see how physically advanced he was for his age in comparison to other young footballers at Everton.
The broad shoulders, powerful build, fierce determination and pursuit of success would have inevitably transferred well to the noble art, should he have pursued it with the same vigour he did for football.
Back in 2008 Rooney said in an interview with the Mirror, “I think my boxing training was beneficial in my development as a footballer, especially breaking through to the Premier League at such a young age.
“I needed that extra bit of strength that the boxing training had given me. It made it easier to play than it might have been and it’s helped me with the way my game is now.”
It is intriguing to see how the two sports complement each other from a professional training standpoint and as Wayne’s remarks above attest to, how both games can often have very positive implications on one another.
Wayne Rooney’s training routine is known to be one of legend – a complete athletic workout for the modern day sportsman.
But it’s also common knowledge that he employs various aspects of boxing training from time to time into this schedule.
This obviously has been good for his football over the years and besides helping him from a strength point of view, you’d have to imagine it has been equally beneficial in terms of attaining and maintaining optimal levels of stamina.
Rooney is a big bloke physically anyway, one would think that regular boxing exercise as part of his overall training regime more than likely helps him keep his weight down too, allowing him to also stay physically mobile in his role at United.
It’s a wonder he hasn’t had a type of charity boxing contest outside of the Bardsley skit last year, given his love for and past history in the sport.
Wayne Rooney’s always been a massive fight fan himself to boot. Many will remember him carrying out the world championship belts of former Manchester boxing hero Ricky Hatton on his way to the ring before many of his big fights.
So next time you see United’s charismatic talisman celebrating with a shadow boxing display similar to what he did last season in a 3-0 win over Spurs, just remember, he could very well have ended up a champion boxer in another life.
Niall Doran is the founder and editor of Boxing News and Views that also contributes to About.com. He’s a marketing and journalism graduate from Ireland but above all else, a passionate, lifelong fight fan.