Eric Esch is a combat sports folk hero. Better known by his nickname ‘Butterbean,’ he’s one of the biggest men ever to set foot in a boxing ring. Weighing an enormous 425 pounds, he was unsurprisingly mostly a super-heavyweight. He even won the IBO title. Furthermore, he had a fantastic knockout record.
Butterbean won 51 straight matches before falling to Billy Zumbrun and Larry Holmes in 2001. Undeterred, he also competed in kickboxing and MMA. His combined fight record is 97–24–5 with 67 knockouts and 10 submissions. That’s a lot of violence for one man.
During his time as a Patriot, Wilfork was one of the best nose tackles in the NFL. A two-time Super Bowl Champion, Wilfork was also a five-time Pro Bowler. He spent 11 years with New England before ending his career following two seasons with the Houston Texans.
Wilfork’s weight was always a topic of curiosity. He was listed at 325 pounds, but the reality is that he was probably more than that. In college he went as high as 340 pounds, so who knows how heavy he really was? But it made him no less effective a player and he proved his skills over and over.
Ortiz’s nickname should be a giveaway. ‘Big Papi’ was certainly large, but it definitely wasn’t to his detriment. A three-time World Series champion, Ortiz was also a ten-time All-Star. This is despite weighing in at a chunky 240 pounds. But that doesn’t matter so much in baseball.
‘Papi’ helped the Red Sox end their curse in 2004. Among designated hitters, he is the all-time leader in MLB history for home runs (485), RBIs (1,569), and hits. However, an alleged failed drug test in 2003 still hangs on his shoulders.
The first-ever Mexican heavyweight boxing champion, Andy Ruiz stunned the world by knocking out Anthony Joshua in Madison Square Garden. The contrast between the two men was stark. Britain’s Joshua was tall with an Adonis-like frame, while Ruiz more resembled a flour dumpling.
However, his penchant for partying and food cost him. In their contracted rematch, Ruiz came in 20 pounds heavier. In short, he was no longer a wrecking ball of destruction and couldn’t get past Joshua’s jab. To sum it up, he ate and drank away his titles. What a shame it was.
The Argentinian soccer legend was his nation’s biggest star. Two World Cup wins will ensure you’re a legend forever. Maradona was the face of those victories, providing magical moments like that goal against England. But he also had to face his demons at various points as well.
Maradona suffered from cocaine addiction throughout the nineties. Not only did this cause his weight to balloon but he went into cardiac arrest twice. In 2004, he underwent a gastric bypass to help him shed some of the excess pounds he was carrying. To sum up, it was literally a case of life or death for him.
Wells was tremendous during his days with the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. This was despite packing a paunch that any hibernating bear would be proud of. One of baseball’s best left-handed pitchers, he walked around at a larger-than-life 250 pounds. But check out these accolades.
A three-time All-Star, he was also a two-time World Series champion. Furthermore, ‘Boomer’ pitched the 15th perfect game in MLB history. Wells didn’t even get his career as a starting pitcher going until he was 30 years old. But he still managed to play until he was 44.
One fact about ‘Shaq’ is that he was never a fitness freak. His natural talents, power, and athleticism combined to make him a true force of nature. Other players have to hit the gym like a maniac for the same results but he just had it. That’s why he was a 15-time All-Star and four-time NBA Champion.
But it’s also a fact that as you get older your metabolism slows down. O’Neal’s waistline widened in later years as he didn’t commit to keeping trim. This definitely hindered him during his stints with the Cavs, Suns, and Celtics. He was a long way off his best days as a Laker.
At the age of 42, Colon was the oldest player to hit their first-ever home run. Nicknamed ‘Big Sexy,’ his weight has always been visible and fondly observed by fans. But despite this, the Dominican star has always been an effective player in MLB. He holds the record for most career wins by a Latin American-born pitcher.
A four-time All-Star, Colon also received a Cy Young Award. However, you’ve got to respect him for this because he is not a small man. At 285 pounds, he must be one of the heaviest players of the modern era. The fact that he played for over 20 seasons at the highest level is remarkable.
‘The Hitman’ was one of the most popular boxers in Britain during his prime. The former WBU welterweight champion fought the best of the best and held titles in multiple weight classes. But his weight fluctuated wildly between fight camps, earning him the nickname ‘Ricky Fatton.’
He once even wore a fatsuit out before a fight with Juan Lazcano in a dig at critics. He did love a pint of Guinness and a burger. After his emotional defeats to Floyd Mayweather, Hatton went into depression, ballooning up even further. His struggles would dog him for the remainder of his fighting career.
When your nickname is ‘The Refrigerator’ it’s a sign. In short, Perry was an enormous human being and one of the biggest NFL players ever to set foot on a field. At 335 pounds, opponents did not want this man to collide with them. But he wasn’t a total joke either, playing in the league for 10 years.
Perry was a Super Bowl Champion and a First-team All-American. He was brilliant during his first year with the Chicago Bears but things were very up-and-down after that. It was a struggle to balance out his weight. However, when he did, he was a ferocious opponent.
One of the ‘founding five’ members of the baseball Hall of Fame, Ruth needs no introduction. Some athletes are legends, but he’s immortal. The seven-time World Series champion achieved 714 home runs. However, it can’t be denied that he also packed on the pounds in the latter years of his career.
The press targeted him mercilessly because of his hard-partying ways. But to be fair, he drank like a soldier. At his heaviest, he weighed a hefty 254 pounds. By the end of his career, he lost the ability to run or field the ball. However, it didn’t matter because he was already an icon.
A key player in the Seattle Supersonic’s legendary 1995-96 team, Kemp helped push Michael Jordan’s Bulls to the limit. He was a six-time NBA All-Star and a three-time All-NBA Second Team member. Kemp spent 14 seasons in the NBA, playing for four different teams.
But even he didn’t have it easy. When Kemp moved to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he battled extreme weight problems. During the 1998-99 season, he reportedly showed up to a training camp weighing 280 pounds. However, GM Wayne Embry revealed he was actually 315 pounds.
Legendary right fielder Gwynn spent 20 seasons in MLB with the San Diego Padres. A 15-time All-Star, the Hall of Famer also had seven Silver Slugger Awards and five Gold Glove Awards. He had one of the best swings the game has ever seen. But he also carried a bit of extra timber around his waist.
However, Gwynn himself made light of this. He used to say that he had a body built like Betty Crocker. The Padres listed him at 225 pounds. But let’s be real, this 5’11” superstar definitely was heavier than that. At the end of the day though it didn’t hold him back from having a tremendous career and becoming a true legend.
There was a time when Harding was America’s darling. The figure skater shattered the glass ceiling when she became a national champion and the first woman to pull off a Triple Axel in competition. But she’s notorious for her rivalry with Nancy Kerrigan. It effectively squashed her skating career.
Harding decided to become a professional boxer and packed on the pounds. Gone was the slim, elegant girl. Suddenly she was a beefy woman able to take a punch. The transformation was a wild one as her life went downhill. The movie ‘I Tonya’ immortalizes her story.
He’s one of the most charismatic athletes on the planet right now, but Fury has had to overcome some incredible struggles. Fury suffered from depression and went down the dark path of drugs and alcohol. Then he ballooned up to an astounding 400 pounds. “The Gypsy King” was a long way from his athletic prime.
However, he was able to rebound and burn off the weight to fight Deontay Wilder. Love him or hate him, Fury managed to overcome his demons to compete again. Standing at 6’9″ and weighing 250 pounds, the WBC champion is a fierce competitor and the best heavyweight in the world right now.
One of the greatest soccer players of all time, Brazil’s Ronaldo won the World Cup in 2002. The former Real Madrid and Barcelona man was a powerhouse in his prime. Every team he played for considered him a talisman as he scored goal after goal. Unfortunately, his own body let him down in the end.
In the latter years of his career injuries decimated him. But he didn’t help himself. In sum, partying definitely cost him another season of top-level soccer. Now he’s got the unfortunate moniker ‘Fat Ronaldo’ to differentiate him from his Portuguese counterpart. In short, he’s unrecognizable since packing on the pounds.