THE GOOD, BAD AND UGLY OF ALTERNATIVE SPORTING CAREERS


Alternative sporting careers are big news right now.

First, NFL side New York Jets signed former Saracens rugby star Hayden Smith, then ex Formula One driver Alex Zanardi, won gold in the London 2012 Para-Cycling competition.

Each of these cross-sport career changes seem to have been successful, but on the day that England cricket legend Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff announced he is launching a professional boxing career, we've decided to profile the best and worst of history's multi-sports stars...

FIVE CAREER CHANGES FOR THE GOOD:

5. Adam Gemili - Football to Athletics

Released by Chelsea at the age of 16, this nippy defender signed for League Two Dagenham and Redbridge, but then turned his back on football, instead focussing on sprinting. It turned out to be a great decision as he won the 100m title at this year's World Youth Championships and represented Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics. Now 18, Gemili has his sights set on a sprint medal at the next Games in Brazil in 2014.

4. Joe Gatting - Football to Cricket

The son of former Arsenal midfielder Steve, and nephew of cricket legend Mike, Joe Gatting was torn between careers. He started in his father's sport, making his name as a promising striker at Brighton and Hove Albion, scoring a handful of goals for the first team and representing England at youth level. But he was soon drawn to his uncle's favoured profession - quitting football for cricket and making his first class debut in 2009. Now 24, Gatting is a formidable middle order batsman who appears regularly at the crease for Sussex CCC, boasting a first class batting average of 31.28. He also plays semi-pro football part time in the winter months.  

3. Curtis Woodhouse - Football to Boxing

Woodhouse was a prodigious midfield talent who starred for England under-21s and once cost Birmingham City over a million pounds. But the Sheffield lad fell out of love with the beautiful game after leaving Hull City in 2005, and turned to the ring. Making his professional boxing debut in 2006, Woodhouse has since established himself as a major force in the light welterweight division, fighting for British titles under the nickname 'The Driffield Destroyer.'

2. Esteban Toledo - Boxing to Golf

Like so many products of the tough shacks of Mexicali, Toledo fought his way out of poverty through boxing. He enjoyed a fruitful fight career, harnessing a 21-1 record, but was forced to retire when his appendix burst. Toledo tried to keep fit by running daily through a nearby golf course, and became curious. He took up the game with a set of battered clubs and within three years was playing on the PGA Tour, where he has won in excess of a million dollars to date.

1. Rebecca Romero - Rowing to Track Cycling

Team GB's golden girl won a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games as part of the Skull team in rowing. She changed her sport soon after, returning to the Olympics in 2008 to capture gold in the individual pursuit, having won cycling's World Championship that same year.


FIVE CAREER CHANGES THAT WERE NOT SO GOOD: 

5. Ian Botham - Cricket to Football

During the 1980s, Ian Botham was the world's best all-rounder, but his all round ability should really have stayed within the boundaries of cricket. Instead his winters were spent making questionable appearances for lower league football teams, where what he lacked in genuine footballing skill, he made up for in publicity.

4. Johnnie Morton - American Football to MMA

Morton was a first round NFL draft who enjoyed a sterling career as a wide receiver for the likes of Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs. His subsequent MMA career was not so sterling, however, as THIS VIDEO of his only ever fight proves.

3. Julian Dicks - Football to Golf

Left-back Dicks made his name in the '90s as an uncomprimising, yet immensely talented defender. West Ham's revered hardman then retired at the age of 31 to pursue a pro golf career that would consist of a handful of non-descript appearances on minor tours across Europe. He returned to football with Canvey Island two years on, and later managed Grays Athletic. 

2. Michael Jordan - Basketball to Baseball

The greatest basketball player of all time was asking too much if he thought he could transfer his talents to baseball. But that's what he attempted when, citing a lack of desire for hoops any longer, he signed a minor league batting contract with the Chicago White Sox in 1994. Despite some success, his love for the big bouncy ball was rekindled soon after and he returned to NBA to resume his legendary career until his 2003 retirement.

1. Dwain Chambers - Athletics to American Football

Banned from athletics for doping offences, former European indoor sprint champion Chambers attempted to turn his hand to gridiron, first attending an unsuccessful trial with the San Francisco 49ers and later signing for the Hamburg Sea Devils in NFL Europe. His second career was shortlived, as was his third - an ill-fated rugby league jaunt - and he returned to the track in time to make the 100m final at London 2012.