It’s no secret that Shaq is a big fight fan, but in a recent interview with ESPN, he revealed that MMA training on the side helped him take his fitness to the level superior.
“MMA is the reason I became a champion,” said Shaq (transcribed via MMA Fighting). “I have always played basketball. It was not enough. Because when I was playing basketball, it was more about wrestling. So when I trained MMA with Jon Burke, a friend of mine in Orlando, I came back in the best shape of my life. It was in 2000. Won. Dominated.
“So I’m a creature of habit. Again, won a second championship. Again, won the third championship. I got cute, I walked away from it, lost. I was traded to Miami, I did it again, I won the fourth championship. “
Shaq was first introduced to MMA by former UFC champion and current ONE Championship star Vitor Belfort. He quickly learned to love sport and considers mixed martial artists to be the best conditioned athletes in the sporting world.
“MMA is something that has always kept my heart rate up,” said Shaq. “This is something that interests me a lot. I am a physical guy. I like physicality. You talk about athletes, MMA athletes are probably the best athletes on the planet. The training they go through, the physical stuff they go through, I’ve been to almost every best fight in the UFC, these guys are specimens. I wish I could touch some of those NBA guys I played like that against. So I’m definitely a fan of MMA. ”
Interestingly, Shaq dived his toes into the combat sports competition. Although he never fought, he participated in a wrestling match with UFC Hall of Fame, Forrest Griffin, and was also briefly linked to a showdown with gigantic Korean kickboxing Choi Hong -Man. Apparently Shaq was serious about the call.
“Look, I called Hong-man Choi a long time ago because I never fought anyone my size,” said Shaq. “Since I was 10 years old, I heard the sentence:” Choose someone of your size! “So back then, a few years ago, if he was ready to fight, I would have fought him. . . I just mentioned it. I wanted someone to come back, in fact, I wanted [UFC President] Dana [White] to come back and install it, but nobody ever did. . . I certainly would have tried. “
What do you think of these comments from NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com 04/16/2020.