Depending on which sport you follow, you may know Sonny Bill Williams from rugby league as the man who scored 168 points out of 118 games in his long career in the National Rugby League, and the person who became the youngest player to ever play for the New Zealand national rugby league team.
Or perhaps maybe you know him from rugby union as one of the 21 players in the All Black’s history to ever win a World Cup title twice in their careers – at the same time winning an incredible 48 out of 53 international test matches. Let’s not forget he’s also come third with New Zealand in the 2015-16 Rugby Sevens World Cup and represented them in the 2016 Olympics.
Despite all this though, many now know him as the heavyweight boxer who has won seven out of seven matches with three by knockout, and in his short boxing career, someone who has a WBA heavyweight title under his belt.
A Career forged from Troubled Times
SBW retired from all rugby codes in March 2021, only to return to boxing in June after a six-year absence. He then went on to win in a nail-biting unanimous point decision over Waikato Falefehi at 57-56, taking his seven-win streak to eight.
This is doubly impressive considering SBW only got into boxing as a way to pay off his $1 million debt to get out of his contract with league side Canterbury Bulldogs, so he could sign for union team Toulon in 2008.
“It started off through necessity because I had to pay bills but it lit a fire inside me that I could never put out and it accumulated in me thinking I would try and win that belt. I did it and it was awesome.”
Although rugby is an aggressive contact sport, he still felt like a fish out of water when entering the world of boxing:
“Winning the New Zealand heavyweight title belt was amazing. I didn’t grow up boxing. It was so unfamiliar for me.”
Looking to the Future
Now retired from rugby, SBW has his sights set on prolonging his boxing career:
“It would be a dream come true to fight against that type of calibre of fighter [Tyson Fury]. I am an avid boxing fan. I watch their training and see what they do and love boxing.”
In the meantime, rumours have it SBW’s next bout will be against either Barry Hall or Paul Gallen – the latter proposal being particularly interesting as Gallen comes from rugby league himself.
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