David Haye Retires

Let’s put aside the question of whether this is a real retirement or not. Let’s take him at his word.

Professional athletes have a strange fate. The most successful are the most tough mentally: they train harder, smarter and longer than their equally (or more highly) talented peers.

I actually believe success in any walk of life depends on experience and sustained mental strength. Sports, business, science, family life, friendship: it all takes work and intelligence and effort.

I say this because in all things except sports, you get to use your experience and knowledge and constantly improve for as long as you choose. If success grants you one thing it’s the ability to control your fate. The most successful keep at it right up until and beyond where social norms tell you you should stop.

In sports, though, you work at something from childhood and, just as you’re beginning to reach true mental and intellectual maturity, your physical abilities begin their decline. As an athlete, you have dedicated your LIFE to this activity and just as start to get it, you have to stop it.

They probably feel the same as they did when they were 20. How could those feelings be wrong?! This must be unimaginably frustrating.

Maybe you become a coach. Maybe you go get an MBA. Who knows. But the allure of un-retirement is immense. In contact sports like boxing there is a powerful disincentive, though. Here’s David Haye:

I didn’t want my speech to become any more slurred than it was when I first entered the ring, and was keen not to one day look like an extra from Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ video.

This happens to a lot of boxers. This happens to even more football and hockey players, because those sports employ more people. Concussions destroy lives.

I think that boxers should retire before 30. I think that guys like Floyd Mayweather Jr. got into their 30s with relatively little physical punishment because of technique built on talent. Talent fades, though, and Floyd’s going to start getting hit.

These people train their minds to push their bodies beyond where the limits ‘should be’. This is a skill that begets extraordinary success and wealth.

A more valuable skill, for the sake of their lives, is turning it off.

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