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5 Athletes Who Bloomed Late In Their Career

5 Athletes Who Bloomed Late In Their Career

Some athletes were born for greatness. When Tiger Woods was two years old, he was already out-putting Bob Hope on the golf course. When he stepped onto the course as an adult, it was clear that he would make sporting history.

But not everyone is Tiger Woods. Certainly, they were born to play a sport but they took a different trajectory to greatness. For some of the best athletes in history, reaching stardom took thousands of hours of work over years of their life to make it to the big time.

Here are just five athletes who reached greatness late in their career.

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Ken Norton

In 1973, Ken Norton broke Muhammad Ali’s jaw in an epic fight. But Ken Norton had not spent his entire life preparing for that fight. By all accounts, Norton should have been a football player. He received a football scholarship to Truman State after high school but left after two years because of injuries.

Norton began boxing in 1963 when he enlisted in the Marines. He committed to boxing and forged a 24-2 record for himself, capturing three All-Marine Heavyweight titles.

After the leaving the marines, he became a professional boxer. He had a 14-year-long career as a pro boxer and became the heavyweight champion after his 30th birthday.

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R.A. Dickey

Dickey was a first-round pick for the Texas Rangers, but despite his hard work, he was unable to hold on to his starting position on the team. For a decade, he tried to stay afloat as he drifted into Major League Baseball obscurity.

In 2005, Dickey perfected the knuckleball. All of a sudden, he went from a career as a relatively unknown baseball player to becoming a starting pitcher for the Mets at the age of 35. In 2012, he was voted in as an All Star and he was the only pitcher with a knuckleball to receive the NL Cy Young Award.

Anthony Davis

Davis is one of the hottest players in the NBA right now and likely has a long future as a professional basketball player in front of him. But Anthony was not always the top pick for the court, in fact, he struggled to get on the court at all at the high school level.

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Davis stood at 6 feet 2 inches tall until the summer before his junior year of high school. Over those three months, Davis grew a remarkable eight inches and reached 6’10”. By the time he left school, he would be scouted by colleges and the NBA. He committed to play ball for Kentucky. He even joined the American basketball squad for the 2012 Olympic games without having gone pro.

Kurt Warner

Once upon a time, during the 1994 NFL Draft, every professional football team chose to pass on Kurt Warner. So, Warner gave up on his dream briefly and began working at a supermarket. Later, he began playing arena football and he made a serious impression on those around him. Warner signed to the St. Louis Rams in 1998 and he worked his way up from third string over several seasons.

Then, he had a stroke of luck. The Ram’s starting quarterback was injured in the preseason and Warner was called up from the bench to finally become a starting NFL quarterback. The situation has parallels with the fortunes of Brazilian veteran soccer star Denilson, who also saw a late career resurgence. During that season, Warner threw 41 touchdowns, racked up 4,353 yards, and lead the Rams to victory at Super Bowl XXXIV. He was the Super Bowl MVP that year and the NFL MVP.

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All this success came from a man who sat on the bench for the better part of a decade.

Rocky Marciano

Rocky is a storied fighter, probably one of the most famous athletes to come from the sport of boxing. However, Rocky didn’t start training for his first professional fight right out of the gate. In fact, his first pro match didn’t happen until he turned 25.

Rocky was an amateur fighter while he was in the service. When he did go pro, he knocked out his opponents the first 16 times he stepped in the ring. When he retired, he left with 49 wins (43 knockouts) and zero losses. He had the kind of record that inspired major Hollywood films.

A select few athletes walk on the pitch for the first time and awe the crowd. But don’t discount those who don’t shine right away. Some of the greatest sports heroes in modern history were late bloomers.

Featured photo credit: slgckgc via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 18, 2020

15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

  1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
  2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
  3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
  4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
  5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
  6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
  7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
  8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
  9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
  10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
  11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
  12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
  13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
  14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
  15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

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