Boxer who beat Muhammad Ali calls rugby league “crazy” as he speaks to ex-Leeds Rhinos man Stevie Ward

Stevie Ward is one of the toughest players to ever take to a rugby league field.

An 18-year-old kid when he debuted in 2012, he was instantly thrown into the deep end as a young forward tasked with battling with the biggest players in Super League. Yet he made an instant impact becoming the youngest player to win a Grand Final at that time.

That night also sparked the start of his continuing battle with injuries which would characterise his career and toughness.

He would even play in the 2017 Grand Final after dislocating his shoulder a week early.

Sadly, concussion would end his career in 2020 after just one appearance as Leeds skipper in a heart breaking moment for the home town hero one that every rugby league fan was no doubt gutted by.

Ward was since shed more light on concussions and the importance of protecting players whilst demonstrating amazing mental toughness to fight the symptoms for over a year.

Still an advocate for rugby league as well, on his brilliant Mentality Podcast, which is all about mental health he welcomed boxer Larry Holmes to show him some of rugby league’s best moments.

Holmes won 69 of 75 fights losing just 6 and winning 44 via knockout. The heavyweight boxer fought for nearly 30 years retiring at 53. A WBC Heavyweight Champion, he also defeated Muhammad Ali and is a real legend of boxing.

During the podcast, Ward showed an infamous brawl between Great Britain and Australia the last time GB were able to beat the Aussies doing so down under.

The Brawl saw Willie Mason and Jamie Peacock come to blows with Peacock having the last laugh. On this Holmes said: “A wrestling match but they’re throwing punches at the same time.”

But perhaps the best moment was when Ward showed Rob Burrow’s immortal try against St Helens in the 2011 Grand Final which was recently voted the ultimate Grand Final try.

On this Holmes said: “You see him, you pick up the ball and run. A lot of speed, that’s what he needs to get away from them guys, they’ll kill him.”

Overall Holmes’ verdict of the sport was: “It’s crazy.”

This is a reminder of the need to show more people our “crazy” but brilliant game as we could make more and more fans.

This is why the World Cup around the corner is vitally important and is something we should all look forward to.

We should also all look forward to what Ward does next and you can listen to his full podcast here.

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