Top 20 Boxers With Higher Education Degree (With Videos)

Professional boxing is one of the millions of ways to make money. Boxers strive to become world champions, get large payouts, retire on time and ensure their futures. It’s a big risk to rely only on boxing. If you fail, you could lose your health and not make enough money.

Boxers, like many other athletes, have to worry about their future and look for alternative income sources. Higher education is one of the second ways to make money after their career in boxing is over. Not all boxers are highly educated.

For many, this point becomes critical after they retire. They lose their main income source but do not have the savings and skills to be able to grow in other areas. In the history of boxing, several famous world champions skillfully combined boxing in the ring, winning titles, and studying in higher education institutions.

James Smith

James Smith, nicknamed Bonecrusher, the ex-WBA world heavyweight champion, began his boxing career at the age of 24. Before his career in boxing, James was in the U.S. Army. Also, he worked as a prison guard and graduated from two top educational institutions.

It was James Sprunt College in Kenansville, North Carolina with a law degree and the University of North Carolina in Raleigh with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. In 1986, Smith became the first world heavyweight champion with higher education.

In March 1987, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Smith had his biggest fight, in which he became famous, but of course thanks to his famous opponent Mike Tyson. Smith was more defensive and passive, losing round after round. The match went on in this dull way.

In the final 12 round, ten seconds before the end of the fight, Smith shocked Mike with a right punch. But there wasn’t enough time to make a score and Smith lost to Tyson on points. And with this result, he became the third man out of five that went the whole distance of 12 rounds with Tyson.

Since finishing his career, James has used his experience and done several philanthropic projects. Currently, the former champion is working on the creation of the Boxing Hall of Fame in the state of South Carolina.

Juan Diaz

Juan Diaz, also known as Baby Bull, is an ex-world champion in 3 top versions of the lightweight division (WBO, IBF, WBA). He was born in 1983 in Houston, Texas. Baby Bull had his debut in pro boxing in 2000, where he defeated Rafael Ortiz by TKO.

On April 8, 2006, Diaz met in the ring against Miguel Angel Cotto. This fight between these two undefeated fighters was for the WBA lightweight title. That night Diaz defeated Cotto in the 12th round by unanimous decision and this was his 3rd title defense.

The Mexican American successfully invested his money earned in the ring into a trucking business and his radio studio. Juan invested not only in business but also in his education. He graduated from the elite University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth in 2017.

During his amateur career, Diaz graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Houston Downtown. Diaz’s career was 16 years from 2000 to 2016. During that time, he had 46 bouts in which he won 42 and 21 of them by knockout. Baby Bull had only 4 losses with only one TKO loss.

Juan Manuel Marquez

The legendary nine-time ex-world champion in four weight categories. Marquez is one of the best boxers of the 21st century. He and his brother Rafael rose from the bottom and achieved incredible results in the professional ring.

Along with his boxing career, Juan Manuel graduated from college with an accounting degree. He worked in his profession until 2004. Marquez switched completely to boxing when he won the title for the first time.

In 1999, Juan Manuel aka El Dinamita became a mandatory challenger for the WBO featherweight title. On September 11, 1999, Marquez lost to Freddie Norwood, the WBA world champion, by unanimous decision. The judges’ decision was highly controversial as both fighters were knocked down.

But El Dinamita dominated most parts of the fight. On February 1, 2003, Marquez defeated Manuel Medina by TKO in round 7 and became the vacant IBF featherweight titleholder. The world champion title opened the way for El Denamita to the big fights.

On November 1, 2003, Juan Manuel defeated Derrick Gainer and won an additional WBA title. On May 8, 2004, Marquez had his first WBA and IBF title defense. His opponent was Manny Pacquiao. This fight was the beginning of the trilogy between these boxers.

This trilogy ended in 2011 after El Dinamita’s victory. Also, Juan Manuel faced Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a non-title fight, where he lost by unanimous decision. During his career, El Dinamita had 64 fights, 56 of which he won, 40 of them by KO. Marquez has never lost by KO or TKO.

Vernon Forrest

Vernon Forrest was born on January 12, 1971, in Augusta, Georgia. The ex-world champion in two weight divisions (IBF, WBC) was famous for his good deeds outside the ring. The boxer, nicknamed “The Viper”, was actively engaged in charity and spent his money to help sick children.

From 1985 to 1990 Vernon took part in 17 different national tournaments, winning 13 of them. He was twice ranked as the most talented boxer in the state of Georgia. In 1990 Forrest became a bronze medalist in the Golden Gloves National Tournament and made the U.S. Adult National Team.

For his achievements in the amateur ring, Vernon got a good scholarship from the U.S. government. He fought 240 fights, losing only 15. Forrest moved to Michigan. He was allowed to close the gaps in his education.

He graduated from high school by correspondence and earned a degree in business administration and parenting. In 1997, Vernon founded Destiny’s Child, which assists mentally retarded teenagers by offering them housing, food, and 24-hour care from trained specialists.

Vernon was tragically killed in 2009 when he tried to stop robbers who robbed him and tried to escape.

Freddie Little

Freddie Little was born in 1936 in Picayune, Mississippi. The undisputed champion of the late 60s and early 70s. Former WBC and WBA super welterweight world champion. Freddie became the first professional world champion boxer with higher education.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Dillard University (New Orleans, Louisiana) in 1961. He made his professional boxing debut in 1957 knocking out Joe Muscato in the first round. In 1969 Little won the vacant WBO lightweight title by decision against Stanley Hayward.

He defended the belt twice before losing it to Carmelo Bossi in 1970 by decision. During his career, he had 58 bouts, 51 of which he won, 31 of them by knockout. In 1972 he finished his career.

Orlando Canizales

Former IBF bantamweight world champion. Orlando is one of the best boxers in the bantamweight division. Orlando Canizales was born November 25, 1965, in Laredo, Texas. Orlando and his older brother Gaby graduated with honors from high school. The boys studied at Texas International University in Laredo.

On July 9, 1988, Canizales knocked out Kelvin Seabrooks in the 15th round and won the IBF bantamweight title. In this way, Orlando joined his brother Gaby, who also held the bantamweight division titles (WBA in 1986, WBO in 1991). Orlando had 16 consecutive IBF title defenses.

Also, he was ranked pound for pound for several years. He defeated such fighters as Kelvin Seabrooks, Billy Hardy (twice), Ray Muniz, Samuel Duran, and Clarence Adams. In 1990, in his fourth title defense, Canizales defeated Paul Gonzalez in the second round.

Since retiring from boxing, Orlando has used his huge experience to train beginner boxers. He and his brother Gaby are proud members of the city of Laredo. The Canizales brothers have opened several boxing gyms where amateur boxers are trained.

In 2009, Orlando was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He has never lost prematurely, has only been knocked down twice, and has had 16 title defenses

Gaby Canizales

Former WBO and WBA bantamweight world champion. The older brother of Orlando Canizales. Gaby, like Orlando, graduated from Texas International University in Laredo. Gaby Canizales was born on May 1, 1960, in Laredo, Texas.

He started boxing at the local boxing gym and made his professional debut in May 1979. Then he defeated his opponent by knocking him out in the first round. During the next four years, he had many successful fights. Also, became a champion of the United States Boxing Association, losing only once.

In March 1986, Canizales fought for the WBA world title (it was his second try to win the title). This time he boxed much better and knocked down his opponent Richie Sandoval five times. He won by technical knockout in the seventh round.

In March 1991, Gaby Canizales boxed against Miguel Lora and won in this fight the vacant WBO world champion belt. At the first defense in June of the same year, he lost the title, losing on points to British boxer Duke McKenzie.

Soon Canizales decided to end his career as a boxer. He fought a total of 57 fights at the professional level, won 48 times and 36 of them by knockout. In the city of Laredo, there is a boxing hall and a community center named after the Canizalez brothers.

Carlos Palomino

Former WBC welterweight world champion. Carlos proved himself to be a talented man in several opposed ways. It was boxing, army, acting career, and business. After his military career, Palomino graduated with honors from the top-ranked Orange Coast College in California.

Carlos Palomino, also known as King, was born on August 10, 1949 in San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. In 1959 the family of the future champion moved to the USA. King made his pro debut in 1972. In two years of his professional career, Carlos had 11 fights of which he won 10 and had one draw.

In 1976, he got the opportunity to fight for the title, so he faced John Stracey in the ring, where he beat him by TKO. After that, Carlos defended the belt four times and then lost the title. In 1979 he finished his career, but 16 years later in 1997, he came back to boxing. He had 4 more successful fights and only in the last fight did he lose on points and decided to finish his career forever.

Carlos retired in 1998. During this time he had 38 fights of which he won 31, including 19 by KO. In 2004 Carlos was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Vitali Klitschko

He is a three-time ex-world heavyweight champion. Vitaliy has 4 higher educations in pedagogical, physical education, and management spheres: Hryhorii Skovoroda University in Pereiaslav (1995), defended his dissertation “Methods of determination of boxers’ abilities in the system of multistage sport selection” (National University of Ukraine on Physical Education, February 2000).

Graduated from National Academy for Public Administration under the President of Ukraine. He received his master’s degree in “Management of social development” at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.

Vitali Klitschko, aka Dr. Ironfist, was born on July 19, 1971 in Belovodskoye, Kyrgyzstan. He is the older brother of Wladimir Klitschko and the former holder of the WBO, and WBC world heavyweight boxing titles. Vitali made his pro debut in 1996, where he knocked out Tony Bradham.

Till 2000 he had 27 fights, almost all of them won by KO or TKO, only then did he get his first defeat from Chris Byrd. His next and last loss was to Lennox Lewis in 2003 in Las Vegas, in the fight for the WBO and IBO titles.

During his career, Klitschko had 47 fights, from which he won 45, including 41 by KO. He finished his career in 2012.

Wladimir Klitschko

King of the heavyweight division. For 10 years Vladimir has ruled the heavyweight division. Vladimir is a Ph.D. candidate in physical education and sports and also has higher pedagogical education. Wladimir Klitschko, nicknamed Dr. Steelhammer, was born March 25, 1976, in Zhangiztobe, Kazakhstan.

Wladimir is a Ukrainian professional boxer, competing in the heavyweight division. He became the World Champion in the WBO, IBF, IBO, and WBA versions. Also in 1996, he won the Olympic Games in the weight category over 200 lbs.

Wladimir is the younger brother of boxer and politician Vitali Klitschko. His professional debut also took place in 1996, at the same time as his brother Vitaly. During his career, Klitschko has beaten a lot of top heavyweights.

Throughout his career, Wladimir fought 69 fights, 64 of which he won, including 53 of them by knockout. He finished his career in 2017 after a loss to Anthony Joshua. After finishing his career as a boxer, Wladimir Klitschko began lecturing at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Wladimir created and leads a course called CAS Change&Innovation Management.

Nathan Cleverly

The former WBO light heavyweight champion is one of the most educated boxers in Britain. Boxing didn’t stop Nathan from graduating with honors from the top-ranked Cardiff University. He has a mathematics degree. Cleverly received his degree in July 2010 and won the WBO light heavyweight belt in December.

Nathan Cleverly, nicknamed Clev, was born on February 17, 1987, in Caerphilly, Wales, United Kingdom. Nathan made his professional ring debut in July 2005, at light heavyweight, where he beat Ernie Smith on points. In 2008, Clev won the Commonwealth light-heavy title.

In 2009, Nathan knocked out Danny McIntosh and became the British Champion. In 2010 he won the European EBU title. Also, in 2010 he beat Nadjib Mohammedi and won the WBO Interim title. Already in 2011 Cleverly was defeated by TKO by Aleksy Kuziemski and became a WBO light heavyweight champion.

After that, he had 4 more successful title defenses. In 2014 he moved up to the cruiserweight division beating Alejandro Emilio Valori and winning the WBA title. Back in the light heavyweight division he defeated Juergen Braehmer and became WBA champion again.

But the next year he lost the title and decided to finish his career. Nathan had 34 fights during his career, winning 30 of them, including 16 by KO.

Marco Antonio Barrera

A former world champion in three weight classes and one of the best boxers in Mexican history. Marco Antonio comes from a wealthy family. The young man was well educated: he graduated from the University of Mexico in Mexico City with a law degree. Marco Antonio skillfully mixed education and the high-level pro boxing competition.

Marco Antonio Barrera, also known as Baby Faced Assassin, was born on January 17, 1974, in Iztacalco, Mexico. In their amateur carrier, Barrera had 65 fights, 61 of which he won. In 1989 he made his pro debut. During the first 6 years of his professional career, Barrera was gaining experience and improved his rating.

In 1994 he moved to the super bantamweight division. Marco became a WBO mandatory challenger thanks to his win over former world champion Eddie Cook. On March 31, 1995, Barrera defeated Daniel Jimenez and won the vacant WBO super bantamweight title.

Thus began his long journey as a world champion. He had eight title defenses. In 2002, Baby Faced Assassin won the WBC featherweight title, and in 2004 the WBC super featherweight title. In 2005, Marco Antonio also won the IBF belt.

During his career, he had 75 fights, 67 of which he won, 44 of them by KO. Marco Antonio Barrera finished his career in 2011.

Armando Muniz

Muniz never held major titles, but he fought four times for the world title against the strongest fighters of his time. Armando was successful in the amateur ring and achieved great results in the professionals. After his career finished, he became a businessman. Muniz has a college degree in pedagogy (Spanish language teaching).

Armando Muniz nicknamed El Hombre (The Man) was born May 3, 1946, in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico. In 1968, he participated in the Olympic Games in Mexico City. In 1970, Armando made his professional boxing debut, where he defeated his opponent by TKO.

In 1978, The Man once again tried to win the WBC welter title but lost by unanimous decision. This was his last attempt. After that, he had one more fight and finished his career. During his career, Armando had 59 fights, in 44 of them he won, 30 of them by knockout.

Chazz Witherspoon

After graduating from Paulsboro High School, he was offered a choice of two athletic scholarships. But Chazz proved that he valued brains as much as muscles. So he was admitted to Pennsylvania’s St. Joseph’s University, where he became a pharmacy marketer.

Chazz Witherspoon, nicknamed The Gentleman, was born September 16, 1981, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As an amateur boxer, he won the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves state championship twice. In 2004, The Gentleman made his pro debut by knocking out James Daniels.

After that, he went on a 23-fight undefeated streak. In 2008, he tried to win the WBC title but lost by disqualification. Also in 2012, Chazz tried to win the World Boxing Organization NABO Heavy Title, but also unsuccessfully.

In 2019, after losing to Oleksandr Usyk, he ended his career. Between 2004 and 2019 he had 42 fights in which he won 38 and 29 of them by knockout.

John Duplessis

John Duplessis nicknamed Super D was predicted to be the future Ray Leonard. But he could not win the world champion title, losing to the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez. On the other hand, Duplessis got two university degrees, one in psychology and the other in social work.

For his work with disabled children and drug addicts, he has been honored with several awards and prizes. Super D made his pro boxing debut in 1984 by knocking out Willie Covington. John had 27 successful fights until 1988 when he got his first loss against Louie Lomeli by unanimous decision.

After this loss, he had another 9-fight winning streak. In 1991 he fought the undefeated Chavez for the IBF and WBC super lightweight titles, and as you know, he lost. The year 1995, John Duplessis finished his career. During his career he fought 43 bouts, winning 40 of them and 26 of them by KO.

Oleksandr Gvozdyk

Ukrainian boxer. Bronze medalist of the Olympics. Champion of the Universiade. WBC world light-heavyweight champion. Graduated from Kharkiv H.S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University and later from Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University. Thus, he took care of the moment when his sports career is over and a new stage in his life begins.

Oleksandr Gvozdyk, nicknamed The Nail, was born on April 15, 1987, in Kharkiv, Ukraine. In 2012 he won the bronze medal at the Olympic Games in London. In 2014, Gvozdyk made his pro debut and defeated Mike Montoya by knockout.

After 16 wins in 2018, Gvozdyk faced Adonis Stevenson and won the WBC light-heavy title by knockout. After that, he defended his belt in 2019 by defeating Doudou Ngumbu by TKO. Also in 2019, he lost his fight against Artur Beterbiev for WBC and IBF light heavy titles and finished his career.

Gvozdyk had a total of 18 fights where he won 17 of them and 14 of them by knockout.

Audley Harrison

A British professional boxer who competes in the super-heavyweight division. The 2000 Olympic champion in the super-heavyweight group (over 200 lbs). Back in 1999, he graduated with honors from Brunel University of London, one of the top 50 universities in the world, with a bachelor’s degree in sports science and leisure management. And later he graduated with an honorary master’s degree from that university.

Audley Harrison was born on October 26, 1971, in Park Royal, London, United Kingdom. Harrison was very successful in amateur boxing. He made his pro debut in 2001, beating Mike Middleton by TKO. He fought at home and in America. In 2004, Harrison won the WBF world-heavy title.

After that, he defended the belt twice, but his career went downhill from there. He lost and won intermittently and never had the chance to compete for any of the bigger titles. Harrison had 38 fights during his career where he won 31 of them, 23 of them by knockout.

He finished his career in 2013 with a TKO loss to Deontay Wilder.

DaVarryl Williamson

He is an American professional boxer who competed in the super heavyweight division. DaVarryl got a full higher education Master of Arts and Administrative Services in 1998 Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan, and a Bachelor of Science in Recreation in 1993 Wayne State College, Wayne, Nebraska.

DaVarryl Williamson aka Touch of Sleep (T.O.S.) was born on July 25, 1968, in Washington, District of Columbia. Williamson put on boxing gloves for the first time at the age of 25. Despite his late start, Devarryl quickly became one of the strongest amateur boxers in the United States.

He won the national heavyweight title three years in a row and twice won the most famous U.S. amateur Golden Gloves tournament. Won silver at the Goodwill Games and competed in the World Championships.

In 2000, Davarryl failed to get a place in Sydney Olympics and turned to professional boxing. He finished his amateur career with 120 wins, 17 losses, and one draw (103 of them winning by KO). In 2004, he fought Wladimir Klitschko and knocked him down in the fourth round but lost by TKO.

In 2005 Williamson lost by split decision to then IBF king at that time, Chris Byrd. He had 35 fights in his career, where he won 27 of them and 23 of them by knockout. He finished his career in 2014.

Oleksandr Usyk

Ukrainian professional boxer who competes in the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions. The undisputed world champion in the cruiserweight division. The WBA Super, WBO, IBF, and IBO heavyweight champion of the world. Usik graduated from Lviv State University of Physical Education.

Also, he decided to get a second higher education and started to study at Kharkiv National University of Internal Affairs. Usyk was born on January 17, 1987, in Shypyntsi, Ukraine. As an amateur boxer, Usyk twice participated in the Olympics. The first time was in 2008 in Beijing and in 2012 in London, where he won the gold medal. In 2013 he became a professional boxer.

His first fight took place in November 2013, when the Ukrainian boxer knocked out Mexican champion Felipe Romero. In 2016 he won the WBO title by beating Krzysztof Glowacki. In the semi-final of the World Boxing Super Series, Usyk faced Mairis Briedis and took his WBC belt.

In 2018 he defeated Murat Gassiyev by unanimous decision and became the undisputed world cruiserweight champion. Won the unique Mohammed Ali Cup and 4 championship belts: IBF, WBO, WBC, and WBA super.

After receiving all the possible awards in the cruiserweight division, Usyk moved up to the heavyweight division. His debut heavyweight fight was on October 12, 2019, against Chazz Witherspoon. In 2021 there was a fight between Usyk and Anthony Joshua, where Usyk won and became the WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight champion.

Until today, Usyk had 19 fights without defeats and 13 of them were won by knockout.

Calvin Brock

American professional boxer who competed in the heavyweight division. Member of the U.S. National Team at the 2000 Olympics. A top boxer in the mid-2000s. Brock earned a degree in finance at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 1999 and worked as a banker at Bank of America.

Calvin Brock, nicknamed The Boxing Banker, was born on January 22, 1975, in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2001, Calvin made his pro debut and defeated Zibielee Kimbrough by TKO. From there, The Boxing Banker’s winning record was nothing but wins.

Mostly Brock was beating his opponents prematurely. So, after 29 wins, he faced Wladimir Klitschko in the same ring for the IBF and WBO heavyweight titles. This was Wladimir’s first title defense. In that fight, Klitschko knocked out Calvin in the 7th round and the fight was stopped.

Brock had 33 fights in his career, winning 31 of them and 23 of them by knockout. He finished his career in 2007, after a loss to Eddie Chambers.


The above-mentioned world champions have skillfully combined high-level boxing, winning titles, and studying in higher education. Their examples are significant. Boxers with a college degree are the kind of people who insure themselves and take care of their future.

Higher education did not only do any harm but helped the boxers to reach greater heights in the professional ring. They had peace of mind about their future and could fully focus on building their athletic careers

Gregori Povolotski

I have been practicing martial arts since 2007. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a huge passion for combat sports, especially Muay Thai and boxing. Helping people on their martial arts journey is what drives me to keep training and learn new things. Read More About Me

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