10-02-2007, 01:11 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
| | Shaq gets in shape through 'ultimate fighting'
MIAMI, Oct 1 (Reuters) -- At seven foot one, Shaquille O'Neal is an intimidating enough opponent on the basketball court but the Miami Heat center has been testing his athleticism in one of the most violent of sports -- Ultimate Fighting. |
Questioned on Monday how he had spent his time during the NBA off-season, O'Neal said he had been in the caged ring taking on challengers in the combination of boxing, martial arts and wrestling.
"I've been doing a lot of fighting, a lot of swimming, a lot of hunting and a lot of school work and a lot of reading," O'Neal told reporters at the Heat's pre-training camp media day.
Asked what he meant by fighting, O'Neal said: "UFC fighting, Ultimate Fighting, yeah, I'm serious.
"Every day. You have headgear and so on, it is basically like boxing with wrestling rules. I'm a fan of the sport. I started doing it and then some guys challenged me," added O'Neal who is reported to earn around $20 million a year with the Heat.
The professional Ultimate Fighting Championship was once banned in several states but after changing it's rules it has become increasingly popular in the U.S, pulling in large pay-per-view audiences and filling venues across the country.
The player's unorthodox off-season looks to have delivered some results for his team -- Heat coach Pat Riley says O'Neal is heading into the pre-season games in "real good condition".
O'Neal explains that as largely the result of an extended break due to the Heat's failure to make the play-offs.
"This was the first time I had time to get ready. In my career I've always played late through a season and I've just had 15 or 20 days just to reset my body.
"But when you are playing into June and then back in September there really is no time to get ready, this year I've had a lot of time to get ready," he said.
O'Neal was less willing to talk about how he is coping with his divorce from his wife Shaunie.
"That is something that I won't discuss now and I won't discuss 10 years from now. I won't ever discuss it," he said.
"If I ever have a bad game or bad couple of games, I won't blame it on that. This is something that I obviously have to deal with and I'm going to deal with it the best way possible," he said.