Back then it was only boxers that dreamed of glory after a successful amateur career. Boxing at its peak was one of the most popular sports in the World and has produced World renowned legends like Muhammed Ali, Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard amongst others. We particularly have seen the lucrative side of boxing with bouts that have generated hundreds of millions of dollars for the athletes involved.
Origin of Potential
Floyd Mayweather was multiple times the highest paid athlete in the World during his active years and remains one of the richest sportsmen the World has ever known. Given, not all boxers make a lucrative career off the sport, but the mere fact that there was the potential to aspire from depending on state grants and stipends from an amateur career into getting set for life in a couple of professional fights has been sufficient motivation.
We have witnessed several people who have made successful transitions from amateur boxing into the professional stage where fighters have made both fame and fortune. The likes of Anthony Joshua, the Klitschko brothers, Clarissa Shields, amongst a host of others were both successful amateur boxers and went on to win World Titles.
It is funny when we imagine that there are other combat sports in the World that have previously not been utilized or made a lucrative profession. Other sports like judo, Karate and Taekwaendo have not found the same audience or platform to excel at a global stage. There may be some organizations outside of the amateur stage that offer these sports opportunities but they are neither popular nor attractive.
Mixed martial arts predates the UFC in some ways but it is very difficult to talk about MMA without the UFC. We have seen an explosion in popularity of the sport because of the UFC. As a result of this success, other promotions have also found minor success giving birth to an industry that is providing livelihoods to hundreds of thousands of people.
Due to its wide variety of fighting techniques involved, MMA has afforded the opportunity for elite athletes in various combat sports to make a lucrative career. Consider the fact that elite wrestlers like Kamaru Usman and Khabib Nurumangendov, or karate and striking specialists like Israel Adesanya would probably not have had the opportunity to be superstars otherwise. Back then most kickboxers became boxers just for a shot at a lucrative career. The story is quickly changing.
There is an interesting trend we're observing these days which appears be a declining interest in boxing while the UFC continues to gain popularity. They may not be unrelated. I feel the UFC is already outperforming boxing in terms of performance, quality of matches and excitement. Many UFC cards are stacked from top to bottom while most times in boxing, only the main event sells the show.
While the UFC still has a way to go when it comes to going mainstream, the unique blend of talents it is able to attract from a variety of combat sports will no doubt appeal to an action loving audience bent on seeing what styles make the best fights.