Mayweather - McGregor: Sporting Crossover Stars

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Hello everyone and welcome to fight week! It’s almost time for the hotly anticipated showdown between two of the biggest names in combat sports history. As the UFC’s Conor McGregor prepares to set foot in the boxing ring for the first time to challenge 49-0 legend Floyd Mayweather, Alistair Sargent looks at other instances where sport stars crossed codes, with varying degrees of success.

LEV YASHIN Plenty people would tell you that Yashin was the greatest goalkeeper in the history of football. Throughout a 20 year career with Dynamo Moscow “The Black Spider” (thus known for his iconic all black kit) won 74 caps for the Soviet Union, appearing in 4 World Cups. Yashin was known for his sharp relexes & imposing stature, winning Olympic gold in 1956 & Euro Championship gold in 1960

In 1963 he became the only goalkeeper to ever win the Ballon d’Or. But Yashin’s shot-stopping exploits weren’t limited to football – he also earned international honours between the posts in ice hockey and bandy (an 11 aside hockey style game played on ice). Yashin won the 1953 Soviet cup playing for Dynamo’s ice hockey team.

SAMMY BYRD A former New York Yankee, Byrd became known as "Babe Ruth's legs" due to his frequent use as a pinch runner towards the end of Ruth's legendary career. Byrd gave up baseball in 1939 to pursue a career in golf, winning 6 PGA tour events and losing out in the final of the 1945 PGA championship, then played as a matchplay event. He twice claimed top 10 finishes in the Masters.

HERSCHEL WALKER A 3 time All-American, Walker was a standout college footballer in the US who represented the Dallas Cowboys, Minessota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants in the NFL in the 1980s and 90s. Upon his retirement he ranked 2nd in NFL history for net yardage (18, 168) and scored a total of 84 touchdowns

Not content with a stand out NFL career, Walker headed off to the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics to compete in the bobsleigh, finishing 7th in the 2 man competition. And with 2 sports under his belt Walker went looking for more competition after retiring from football, taking up a career in MMA, registering 2 wins out of 2 as part of the Strikeforce promotion at the ripe age of 48 and 49.

KATIE TAYLOR The Irish boxing sensation has very quickly turned amateur success in to professional perfection. After being the Irish team flag bearer Taylor won lightweight Olympic gold at London in 2012, and five consecutive world amateur gold medals between 2006 and 2014. After finishing third in the world championships in 2016 Taylor turned pro and has quickly built a 6-0 record

And while she was conquering the boxing world Taylor was also earning international recognition for the Irish ladies football team, collecting 11 caps and registering 2 goals playing as a midfielder of forward between 2006 and 2009. Too good to be true? Taylor’s only career blemish was being sent off against Italy in 2008 after scoring her 2nd international goal in the same game.

GENE CONLEY The only man to win a World Series and an NBA Finals. Conley was both MLB pitcher and NBA forward during a decorated multi-sport career. Having won the 1957 World Series whilst playing for the Milwaukee Braves Conley returned to basketball, where his professional sport career had begun, winning 3 NBA championships in a row from 1959-1961. Conley died earlier this year aged 86.

IAN BOTHAM Cricketing legend "Beefy" racked up 102 Test appearances for England, scoring 5,200 runs at an average of 33.54 and claiming 383 wickets at an average of 28.40. He is an icon in cricket but his sporting talent did not stop there. Between 1978 and 1985 Botham turned out for Yeovil Town and Scunthorpe United, making 11 football league appearances at centre-half for The Iron