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Elite Boxers Who Are Vegans
Here’s Why They Decided to Ditch Meat

Rafid Nassir
Published by Rafid Nassir
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: January 22, 2021

Maybe you’ve associated big, strong boxers with a heavy meat-focused diet before, but you’d be surprised how many of these vegan athletes performed at a world champion level on a meat-free diet!

A plant-based diet is sufficient to get fit but can it help in the ring as well? Let’s take a look at some of the most known vegan boxers and see!

1. Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson

The man himself. A boxing legend, famously (or rather infamously) known for biting an ear off of his opponent in a championship match in 1997! But did you know that switching to veganism saved his life?

That’s right, after retiring from boxing, Tyson was at one point in his life doing a lot of drugs, such as cocaine. This affected his health so negatively he could barely breathe.

Not wanting to battle with arthritis and high blood pressure, which he had problems with for years, Tyson switched to a plant-based diet in 2010!

He exclaimed that this decision led to him being in the best condition in his life. He had lost a lot of weight, over 100lbs! Most importantly, it helped him get healthy:

“Becoming a vegan gave me another opportunity to live a healthy life. I was so congested from all the drugs and bad cocaine, I could hardly breathe. High blood pressure, almost dying, arthritis, and once I became a vegan all that stuff diminished [1].”

Staying away from meat products, Tyson kept his healthy figure, which helped him get back into boxing.

Tyson, however, didn't remain vegan. Recently he started eating meat again as he believes it will give him more strength to get back into the ring.

Read More: Mike Tyson Vegan Story: Why He Ditched Meat and Gone Full Vegan 


2. Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua

Yes, former heavyweight champion and British boxing superstar doesn’t eat animal products, as revealed in his documentary “The Calm Before the Storm [2].”

Taking out chicken and fish from his diet, Joshua opted for what he calls a “fresh food” diet.

This is the food that he eats before big competitions, and it includes avocado, rice, falafel, and all sorts of vegetables!

He explained that his breakfast consisted of porridge every morning, which would help him stay motivated and give him enough energy to train.

Joshua has before stated that removing meat from his diet and eating plant-based products will make him an “undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.”

If anything, his numerous awards as a heavyweight fighter prove that eating meat isn’t necessary to be successful in the sport!


3. Bryant Jennings

Bryant Jennings

Another famous heavyweight boxer, Bryant Jennings, has been vegan for several years. While he used to be a vegetarian, he switched to a strict vegan diet in 2015.

His reason to switch to veganism was simple: he was worried about his health, and a lot of food ingredients and additives were damaging it, meat particularly.

This is an interesting subject, as expert James Wilks (elite special forces trainer and martial artist) who talks many athletes states:

“Athletes are in touch with their bodies in a way many ‘regular’ people aren’t. Many of them tell us that they can feel animal foods increasing inflammation and slowing them down.”

Perhaps this is something that a lot of boxers on this list, Jennings included, could relate to.

Jennings has been pretty open about his diet. He has said that he likes to eat a lot of oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly, avocado, quinoa, and a lot of fruits and vegetables.

Interestingly enough, he also makes his own vegan burgers with ingredients such as black beans, chicken peas, quinoa, lentils, flax seeds, and chia seeds.

Jennings said his diet helps keep him young and improves his mental well-being.

Perhaps this is evident in the ring as well, as he currently holds the most wins over the former world champion Siarhei Liakhovich!


4. Melanie Fraunschiel

Melanie Fraunschiel

One of the female examples on this list, Melanie, has trained in karate for ten years and won many medals, after which she switched over to boxing in 2010.

From then on, she has had dozens of fights on record and competed regularly at a high level, becoming a national champion twice and winning a medal in international competitions!

What most don’t know about her, however, is that she has been a vegan since 2014.

Before that, she hadn't eaten meat for a very long time but then decided to take out fish, eggs, and cheese products from her diet as well.

Her reasons for first and foremost, were health-based. Melanie has suffered from constant skin issues and always had problems maintaining an ideal weight.

She has also said that before the vegan switch, her performance was worse. She recognized she needed to change, and through a healthier diet, she got rid of her health problems and lost weight!

Melanie blamed most of her problems on dairy products. She said they would give her pimples, make her sick, and hard to recover after training.

Her diet consists of vegetables and fruits and food with ingredients such as chia seeds, hemp powder, and cacao powder.

This diet helps Melanie’s training schedule, and her body has never felt healthier!

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5. Timothy Bradley

Timothy Bradley

Holder of multiple world champion titles and former professional fighter Timothy Bradley some may not know as a vegan boxer, but he has also been practicing eating healthier since 2008!

While this wasn’t something he would practice all the time (since, in his words, it would annoy his wife), he has followed a strict vegan diet of fruits, vegetables, tofu, nuts, and other vegan ingredients to aid in keeping his body healthy while in the ring!

Bradley is staunch proof that meat isn’t necessary for success in boxing.

He didn’t need meat for his protein intake in building muscles and a healthy body but instead substituted it with plants that built up his energy.

He stated that the vegan diet itself gives him an advantage over other fighters! “An unbelievable feeling,” as he would describe it.

He claimed that eating healthy helped clear his thoughts, and he felt clearer and sharper than ever.

Bradley’s achievements in the ring speak for themselves. He is particularly famous for his trilogy of fights and overall performance against the world champion, Manny Pacquiao!

 


6. Amanda Riester

Amanda Riester

Another female competitor on the list, Riester, is at the same time a successful competitive bodybuilder but also a professional boxer, winning the Chicago Golden Gloves 4 times.

However, her reasons for a vegan diet are completely ethical, and she has been a vegan for longer than anyone on the list - since she was only five!

Riester always had a massive love for animals and nature. As a kid, she turned vegetarian after hearing where meat comes from and later went completely vegan.

She has mentioned that many people are surprised at how she can remain as strong as she is while being on a mostly raw vegan diet!

But to Amanda, healthy eating didn’t only help to stay fit. She is a cancer survivor, and a plant-based diet managed to help her overcome it and stop the cells from growing!

Although her plant based diet is very bodybuilding focused, it’s interesting to note how she remains looking as fit as he does. Amanda says she eats berries, apples, and gets her daily dose of protein from homemade seitan.  It is not uncommon for vegan athletes to cook up their own animal free protein source, like Amanda does.

Amanda prides herself on being an ambassador of a healthy vegan lifestyle and is proof that a plant-based diet is sufficient for both bodybuilding and boxing!


7. Cam Awesome

Cam Awesome

This American heavyweight boxer is known for winning 13 national titles, winning international tournaments multiple times as well as the US Olympic trials.

Cam always liked setting goals and pushing himself - this may be one of the reasons why he took an interest in a vegan diet in the first place.

He says that his trainer taught him the importance of eating healthy and how it can benefit his boxing career. Cam took this seriously and became one of the outspoken supporters of the vegan diet in the world of boxing later on!

However, the story as to how it all started is more interesting.

Cam lost a bet in a fight of Manny Pacquiao versus Timothy Bradley, and the loser of the bet had to be vegan for 28 days. He said that this was unbearable at first, as he lost a lot of weight, but he then came to like it when he realized he was eating "cleaner."

The fruits and veggies felt amazing, and he soon found the foods he needed to eat for the protein boost.

After that, he remained vegan and never looked back.

The results showed themselves as Awesome went on an unbelievable 23-0 winning streak after adopting a plant-based lifestyle!

Interestingly, he didn’t only stick to boxing, and his back-up plan might surprise you. In his free time, Awesome would go on to perform comedy! I guess he really lives up to his name, heh.


Is Meat Necessary for Boxers?

Many boxers and trainers around the world will say that meat should be a part of a boxer’s diet because it contains high amounts of protein.

However, as proven by some examples above, protein can be gained from a number of different sources like tofu, seitan, and various types of peas.

Experts state that for boxers, vegan diets can be very beneficial. They are usually high in fiber, magnesium, vitamins C and E, and nutrients. They can help an athlete stay fit while also remaining healthy.

However, it’s important to note that vegan diets can lack vitamin D and zinc, which is why perhaps athletes like Tyson forgo it.

Strength and energy are essential for athletes, but so are having a balanced diet and taking care of one’s weight.

Veganism has proven to be able to provide all of the benefits listed above, but determination is the most important part. So stay determined if you care about your health!

References:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vc-DeGEXAmM
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvYUv79-Ffo

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