25 Awesome Film Roles By Professional Athletes

The career of a professional athlete, regardless the sport, usually has a very brief life compared to other professions. According to science, the average human’s physical prime usually begins to fade from the early to mid-30s, quite a young age by social and biological standards. So what happens when professional athletes have to retire and do something else for a living? Here’s a list of 25 cases where athletes couldn’t stay away from the camera flashes and starlight and pursued an acting career seeking more money and glory.


Wilt Chamberlain, Conan the Destroyer


Do you guys remember the huge black guy in Conan the Destroyer who bit off a chunk of Conan’s ear and probably became the main inspiration for the likes of Mike Tyson and Luis Suárez? In real life the man who portrayed Bombaata was none other than the mighty Wilt Chamberlain. We would literally need pages to write down all his basketball records and accolades but let’s just mention two things about him so you can get the picture: He’s considered the greatest basketball player of all time by many fans and experts, even ahead of Michael Jordan, and he’s also the only player in history to score 100 points in a single NBA game. Did you say anything, Mike? That’s right, I didn’t think so.


Hulk Hogan, Rocky III


Hulk Hogan has been the face of professional wrestling for decades and he’s arguably the most famous wrestler who ever lived. He became a world champion a total of twelve times, including his six reigns as the WWE world heavyweight champion and his six WCW world heavyweight titles. During the ‘80s he was so famous and successful that anything he touched turned to gold. Stallone was fully aware of this and hired him to give the awesome performance that he did as Thunderlips in Rocky III where he literally kicks ass.


Alex Karras, Blazing Saddles


Alex Karras claimed nationwide fame with his role as Mongo in the 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles and also starred in the popular ‘80s TV show Webster. However, he was already famous among football fans for being one of the most dominant, intimidating defensive tackles in the NFL. Before “Mongo” made it big on the big and small screen he played twelve seasons for the Detroit Lions and was part of the 1960s All-Decade NFL team.


Jim Brown, The Dirty Dozen

Ice Station Zebra - Jim Brown

Jim Brown wasn’t just any professional athlete but arguably the greatest American football player of all time. After he smashed multiple NFL records, he transformed into a very successful actor with roles that would make him a star even if he wasn’t already famous on the football field. He starred in such popular films as The Running Man, Any Given Sunday, 100 Rifles (next to the super-hot Raquel Welch), and The Dirty Dozen, which was highly praised by most film critics of the day.


Jack Dempsey, Requiem for a Heavyweight


When the conversation about the greatest heavyweight boxer who ever lived drops on the table the name Jack Dempsey is always in the top 10 along with the names of Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, and, more recently, the Klitschko brothers. Dempsey held the world heavyweight title from 1919 to 1926, became the first undisputed boxing superstar and the first athlete to make over a million dollars. Even though he showed really great acting talent in one of the most iconic boxing-themed films, Requiem for a Heavyweight, he never took acting seriously mainly because he had made enough money from boxing to enjoy a very comfortable life.

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