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Poker With a Punch: Boxer Audley Harrison trades the ring for the World Series of Poker felt

Life as an expert boxer meant loads of time in Las Vegas for British heavyweight Audley Harrison. In 2006, the pugilist was coaching in Sin Metropolis however had no real interest in hitting the slots or leaping in on the craps motion. One thing a bit extra aggressive held his curiosity.

“What’s that room within the again?” Harrison remembers asking.

When somebody informed him it was a poker site, the Olympic gold medalist grew to become intrigued. He signed up for a poker boot camp after which cashed within the second occasion he performed. His thirst for successful within the boxing ring has reworked right into a killer intuition on the poker desk. Two weeks in the past Harrison was amongst these within the first flight of the $400 Colossus on the World Collection of Poker, one among many chasing a bracelet and a giant payday.

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“Now I am at a degree the place I sit right down to win,” he says. “Earlier than I used to be simply making an attempt to money, however now I’ve taken the time to check and study the sport.”

Boxer to Businessman

Coping with adversity has been a lifestyle for Harrison, each within the ring and on the poker desk. He grew up {playing} a number of sports activities together with rugby and soccer, however fell in love with the candy science. Within the 2000 Sydney Olympics, he grew to become the primary British boxer to win a gold medal within the super-heavyweight division after additionally scoring a gold within the 1998 Commonwealth Video games.

“Once I was 9, I had an epiphany that I used to be going to be a well-known sportsman,” he says. “So I feel I used to be chasing this epiphany subconsciously. Within the different sports activities I used to be okay, however wasn’t nice. I discovered boxing at 19, which could be very late. However the first time I walked right into a health club, I knew this was the one.”

At 6 ft, 5 inches, Harrison was an imposing presence within the ring. A professional profession adopted life as an beginner and Harrison grew to become closely concerned with all enterprise points of his profession, working as his personal promoter and supervisor. He signed a £1 million cope with the BBC to broadcast his first 10 skilled fights.

Audley Harrison has gone from knocking males out within the ring to knocking gamers out of WSOP tournaments.

Harrison formally retired from the ring in 2014 with a 31-7 file together with 23 of these wins coming by knockout. Even from these early days within the ring, Harrison at all times had a watch for enterprise and that continued in retirement by way of an opportunity assembly with the girl who’d grow to be his spouse.

The 2 occurred to fulfill whereas Harrison was in Las Vegas courtesy of a visit from his mentor, former heavyweight champion and fellow British boxer Lennox Lewis. The “Pugilist Specialist” flew Harrison to Vegas as a reward for successful a gold medal. He signed with an American coach and the string of occasions finally led to wedding ceremony bells.

His spouse was a star hairstylist and simply occurred to work on the Olympic champion’s hair. They fell in love and had been quickly married. The Harrisons now reside in Calabasas, California, the place the boxer entered an unlikely enterprise – a hair salon. Enterprise has been good and the store simply celebrated 10 years together with his spouse working the day-to-day operations. The Harrisons even not too long ago expanded with a haircare line of shampoos and conditioners.

“I’ve form of taken over that,” he says. “I am scaling it now with my enterprise acumen.”

Wanting again, that journey to Las Vegas could have set a course in movement to save lots of his life, Harrison says, and helped him get away from some damaging influences. Life as a happily-married household man with a profitable enterprise and a love of poker won’t have ever been within the playing cards.

“I might have been again in England, single, most likely women in every single place, horrible,” he says. “I don’t even need to give it some thought. It was the most effective factor that ever occurred to me. I’m actually completely satisfied – to have come from the place I got here from and get my life again on observe.”

Pugilist to Poker Participant

Three-bets and all-in shoves have now changed the times of uppercuts and jabs. Harrison loves the sport and has a aim of successful a WSOP bracelet. With a giant rating on the road within the Colossus, he hoped to maintain his good run of playing cards going. His greatest money got here in 2010 in a $2,000 occasion on the Venetian. A 3rd-place end for $ 90,298 included one fascinating elimination.

“I knocked out Phil Hellmuth,” he says. ”He saved on bloody elevating me each time and I needed to maintain him sincere a few occasions and was capable of take him down.”

Harrison now has $283,288 in reside event winnings and is simply one of many newest athletes to leap in poker after retirement. He jumped proper into the Colossus after a money within the seniors occasion. As a father, husband, and businessman, Harrison cannot get away to Vegas all summer time however plans to pop in for a couple of occasions right here and there. In June, he was happy to see a few of his poker research put to good use on the WSOP.

“I’ve realized so many alternative methods that I didn’t know earlier than,” he says. “And I put all of it to good use and it held up and was working.”

As a daily on the poker scene again in California, Harrison has a bunch of poker professionals he bounces concepts and methods off. He’s a daily on the Commerce and Bike, however life as a father with two kids closely concerned in sports activities doesn’t go away the 50-year-old as a lot time for enjoying playing cards as he’d like. His son is also concerned in jiu-jitsu, however Harrison mixes in just a little boxing coaching with him as nicely.

In 2019, Harrison’s two aggressive passions merged as he skilled Antonio Esfandiari for his boxing match towards actor and comic Kevin Hart. Esfandiari got here out on high and Harrison is now an undefeated 1-0 as a coach. He’s hoping that success carries over to the poker desk now.

“I desire a WSOP bracelet and I feel I’m adequate to get it,” he says. “That’s what I’m centered on this yr. I positively have it in me. After which I’ll really feel glad with my poker journey.”

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