Shaquille O’Neal. From Keith Allison on Flickr.
All kind of personalities seem to involve themselves with the martial arts these days. How many celebrities and professional athletes do you hear about training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Muay Thai on a monthly basis? Quite a few, right?
One of those people is Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O’Neal. Yes, I mean Shaq:
It seems that everywhere, people are catching on to the benefits of learning mixed martial arts. Everyone includes basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal, who is spending his off-season training at Jonathan Burke’s Gracie Gym in Orlando.
O’Neal, who is listed at 7’2” and 325 lbs., goes by his old nickname at the gym, Diesel. He’s been training with Burke for 10 years, where he does the full gamut of MMA, boxing, jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai and wrestling. Cagewriter spoke with Burke who said that O’Neal is in great shape, and loves the nature of the training.
“We can work drills 20 times through, and he works his tail off on everything,” Burke said. “He has way more talent with this stuff than people would imagine.”
Unfortunately for Shaq, the UFC’s heavyweight limit peaks at 265 lbs. So does that of every other notable organization in North America. So if he decides to fight, what avenue should he follow? Something tells me if he’s serious, he’ll be a star in Japan soon enough if he isn’t already. Either that or the super heavyweight division will have to be making a surprise comeback in the ‘States.