Wrestling and boxing have been intertwined for years. Boxers like Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson have made multiple appearances in WWE, usually in guest spots or as enforcers.
However, some boxers have fought in actual wrestling matches. These have been normal matches, no dq matches or even special rules matches, all which will be detailed below.
Here are some of the most significant wrestling matches featuring boxers in wrestling rings.
*NOTE* This article will not be discussing AEW’s Anthony Ogogo. Even though he is famous for his Bronze Medal in the Olympics for boxing, he has since retired from the sport in a bid to become a professional wrestler.
Click here to read our rundown of every Anthony Ogogo match ranked from worst to best.
Muhammad Ali was one of the biggest stars in the history of sport, let alone boxing. The American former World Heavyweight Champion rose to fame as the Olympic Boxing champion in 1960, and went on to become one of the greatest boxers of all time.
While Muhammad Ali made an appearance at the first Wrestlemania, he did not wrestle at the event. However, he did take on legendary Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki in boxer vs wrestling match. (Antonio Inoki was WWF Champion however, but WWE refuse to acknowledge that reign).
Billed “The War of the Worlds”, the match took the biggest stars in America and Japan for a super showdown. It took place at the Nippon Budokan arena in Tokyo, and was booked by Inoki to make himself a bigger star in Japan. (You can read more about it in the book “Lion’s Pride: The Turbulent History of New Japan Pro Wrestling“)
The match was fought under special rules, which were similar to modern MMA rules. Due to a rule decided before the match, most of the match consisted of Inoki on his back, kicking at Ali’s legs. All in all, he kicked Ali 107 times without interference from the referee.
The match result was a draw in the end. It went to a points decision, with the referee having the deciding vote. That referee was Gene Lebelle, who is famous for being the originator of the LaBelle lock. The move has been used by Bryan Danielson as a finisher move in WWE and in AEW.
LaBelle marked the fight as a 71-71 draw, thus leaving the match without a winner. Rumours have swirled about the legitimacy of the result, presuming the match was rigged to avoid both men losing and looking bad.
The Saudi Arabia shows in WWE have not come without controversy. Wrestlers like Sami Zayn and ALL WOMEN (for the majority of them) were not allowed to wrestle at these events.
Coupled with awful matches like The Undertaker vs Goldberg (where Goldberg nearly killed the Undertaker), belief in these events was waning with fans.
So naturally, WWE thought it best to fill the card with non-wrestlers. Not only did WWE Crown Jewel 2019 feature a former MMA champion, but a boxing world champion too.
Brock Lesnar defended his WWE Championship against former UFC rival Cain Velasquez. To Velasquez credit, he had a few matches in Mexico, and had a genuine passion for the sport. He had two matches in AAA, teaming with wrestlers including AEW’s Cody Rhodes and Brian Cage.
The Gypsy King vs Choo Choo Man
However, Braun Strowman was given a match against boxing great Tyson Fury. Fury has shown himself to be one of the best boxers on the planet in recent years. He recently defeated Deonte Wilder, for the second time out of their three bouts.
However, his trip to Saudi Arabia signalled his first foray into the world of Professional Wrestling. Tyson Fury was announced to appear at WWE Crown Jewel 2019. It was then revealed he was to wrestle a match, against Greatest Royal Rumble winner Braun Strowman.
Strowman himself was not the best worker in the world. He played his role of the monster giant very well. But when faced against someone who has never wrestled a match before, and matches him for height (Fury is a legit 6 foot 9) then the odds are really stacked against them.
And you know what? Yes, it was terrible.
But for a wrestler in his first match against one not known for his work rate, the match was impressive. Strowman carried the Gypsy King to a passable 8 minute bout, showcasing his power and making Fury the underdog. He used his punches only twice, once in a lethal combination, and once for the finish.
Tyson Fury hit Strowman with a big punch at the end of the match, knocking him out of the ring. Strowman failed to answer the referees count, as he counted to ten.
Fury was victorious in his one and only wrestling match. Fury beat Deonte Wilder twice since that match, while Strowman would be released two years later. Did this match have any influence on that? Almost certainly not, wrestling is not real.
But still, awful match.
Floyd Mayweather Jr
Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Manny Pacquio was billed as the biggest fight of all time. Well, people are wrong. The biggest fight of all time has to feature the World’s Largest Athlete, the Big Show!
At the 2008 No Way Out, Floyd Mayweather and his 400 strong army of bodyguards sat ringside. At the event, Rey Mysterio took on Edge, in a match for the World Heavyweight Championship. Sadly, Edge won with a spear, leaving Mysterio in a crumbled heap in the ring.
The Big Show ran in, making his surprise return to WWE. Big Show left WWE for two years, and came back looking much lighter.
He went on to mention his 108 pound weight loss, before attacking the diminutive Mexican. Luckily, Mysterio was saved by the undefeated boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Mayweather attacked the Big Show with a flurry of punches, breaking the jaw of the worlds largest athlete. Big Show has since gone on to claim that he was angry at Mayweather for real, chasing him around to try and beat him up for real.
The next night on Raw, the Big Show laid down a challenge for “Money” Mayweather. The pair were to fight at Wrestlemania 24. The rules of the bout would be a No Disqualification match, which means that anything would go between the two.
Mayweather accepted, with a rumoured payoff for the match being an astonishing $20 million. The match was set for Wrestlemania, and was one of the highest profile matches on the card.
The match was fine. As celebrity matches go, it certainly was one.
The bulk of the match was the Big Show chasing around Mayweather and members of his irritating entourage. Despite being about one third of the size of the Big Show, Mayweather won his one and only wrestling match. It did require him using brass knuckles to knock out the Big Show, and avenge Rey Mysterio or something I don’t know.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.