If one athlete deserved a double Athlete CRUSH, it might be Sonny Bill Williams. Not only is Sonny Bill a good-looking rugby star, but he’s also a professional boxer with a physique that’s a piece of art. We’re still talking about the same guy, he’s just twice as accomplished and impressive as your average standout.
On the eve of New Zealand’s first Sevens rugby match at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Sonny Bill Williams will surely be dreaming of gold. After all, the rugby superstar has become quite accustomed to success over his storied career. A winner of the Super Rugby title (2012), the National Rugby League (NRL) trophy (2004 & 2013), and two Rugby World Cups (2011 & 2015) with the All Blacks, Williams has seen glory in every format of rugby in which he has played. To put into context, at the time Williams won both the Super Rugby and NRL flags, only two other men had achieved the same feat. Added on top of his international exploits, and Williams is one of the most accomplished players of his generation. (Click here to read up on Rugby’s fastest player http://www.athletecrush.com/olympic-sports/athlete-crush-carlin-isles-rugby-track-football/)
Individually, the awards continue to flow. In 2013 he was named the best rugby league player in the world at the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) Awards. Although not an award, it was perhaps just as impressive when the NRL banned the shoulder charge leading up to the 2013 season. Williams had been notorious for his aggressive, shoulder-leading hits, and as a result, it is believed that when he signed on with an NRL team before the 2013 season, league officials were persuaded to ban the move to better protect players.
A physically imposing and Skilled player, Williams has made 33 caps for New Zealand’s senior rugby union team, yet 2016 represents his first year as a member of the All Blacks Sevens squad. The 6’4, 240-pound Kiwi is a rare breed, as his successful switch to Sevens will attest. Many rugby standouts have attempted to join the Olympic rugby format, however, Williams will be the only bonafide rugby union or rugby league star in Rio.
As if smashing into opponents on the rugby pitch wasn’t enough, Williams also takes great pleasure in pasting heavyweights in the boxing ring. Because his primary focus has been rugby over the years, Williams has only been in seven fights. Nevertheless, he’s certainly made the most of them by winning all seven – three by KO. In fact, Williams at one point was the New Zealand Professional Boxing Association (NZPBA) Heavyweight and World Boxing Asociation (WBA) International Heavyweight Champion.
Commitments to rugby have made it difficult for him to hold onto his boxing prizes, however, he still maintains a close relationship with the sport, as seen below. Whether fighting another behemoth or simply sparring in the gym, Williams has found that boxing gives him confidence and mental toughness that he can use in rugby. It also provides him a “good way to stay fit in the off-season.” As you may have already guessed, Williams like to stay in shape. His formidable physique and power are traits not often matched, regardless of the sport. A Unique athlete to say the least, Williams has broken all kinds of barriers on his way to becoming a top rugby and boxing star.
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) July 15, 2016
Never one to shy away from a new challenge, Sonny Bill Williams will take the stage in Rio with another lofty goal in mind. He’s already conquered NRL. Same with Super Rugby. Place a check next to international rugby union as well. Even heavyweight boxing he’s done. Next, the world will be watching as Williams aims for glory in rugby Sevens. And if there’s one thing to take away, it’s that Williams is not one to be underestimated. Shoulder charges or not, boxing gloves or without, chances are when all is said and done, he’ll be having the last laugh.
And you can’t mention All Black rugby without including the haka. If this doesn’t pump you up and give you goose bumps, I don’t know what will.
Follow Sonny Bill Williams on Twitter @SonnyBWilliams
Written by Athlete CRUSH Staff
Posted 9 August 2016