12 Celebrities Who Once Were Successful Athletes

3 years ago

We know them as talented actors and TV show stars, but as it turns out, they have impressive sports careers behind them as well. Tommy Lee Jones, Jason Statham, Caitlyn Jenner, and other people in our article were sweating over their athletic achievements, set and broke records, and won medals in the most prestigious competitions before they became famous for their acting.

Here at Bright Side, we’ve looked at the athletic pasts of 12 celebrities and are ready to share some curious sports facts from their biographies with you.

Tommy Lee Jones

In the late 1960s, Tommy Lee Jones played guard on the football team at Harvard College where he studied. On November 23, 1968, he took part in the Yale vs Harvard football game that became part of sports history thanks to a last-moment comeback made by Harvard to end the game in a 29 to 29 tie.

Caitlyn Jenner

Back in the ’70s, Jenner had a very successful career as an athlete (when she identified as Bruce Jenner). Jenner started playing college football for the Graceland Yellowjackets and then switched to train for the decathlon. At the 1976 Olympic Games, Jenner won the gold medal at the men’s decathlon event, achieving 5 personal bests on the first day of the competition.

Jason Statham

Before he became the famous actor we know today, Jason Statham spent much of his time playing sports. As a teenager, he played football for the local grammar school, while at the same time, mastered various diving techniques. For many years, Statham was a member of Britain’s National Swimming Squad, and you can see him competing in a diving competition back in 1990 in this video.

Matthew Fox

When Matthew Fox was playing William “Red” Dawson in We Are Marshall, he knew the subject very well, as he played football at Columbia University where he studied economics.

Stacy Keibler

Stacy Keibler is indeed a multifaceted person. Stacy is an actress, dancer, model, former cheerleader, and retired professional wrestler. She also took part in Dancing with the Stars, where she took third place.

Dean Cain

We know him best for playing the role of Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman, in the TV show, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, but Dean Cain is also a former football player. In the picture below, you can see him taking part in a sporting event to benefit Los Angeles kids at Crossroads School Sports Complex in Santa Monica, USA in 2004.

Dwayne Johnson

Dwayne Johnson wasfootball player for the University of Miami’s football team and won a national championship in 1991. He also professionally wrestled for 8 years before starting his acting career.

Gina Carano

Gina Carano is well-known for her roles in Fast & Furious 6, Deadpool, and other popular movies, but she is also a fitness model and former mixed martial artist. Carano trained in Muay Thai, took part in competitive MMA fighting, and was named fifth on 2008’s list of “Top 10 Influential Women.”

Mark Harmon

Before his acting career, Mark Harmon played college football and was quite successful at it, playing for different teams. He received the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award in 1973, the Second-team Academic All-America in 1973, and was introduced in the Pierce College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010. In the picture below, you can see Harmon taking part in a Battle of the Network Stars sports event in 1981.

Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris is a world-famous martial artist. During his career, he won many martial arts championships and even created a discipline of his own called “Chun Kuk Do.” Norris also boasts a black belt in Tang Soo Do, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Judo.

Uzo Aduba

We know her best for playing the role of Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren in Orange Is the New Black, but it turns out that Uzo Aduba was also good at sports and competed in track and field for Boston University where she studied. The picture below shows Aduba taking part in the 2015 Boston Marathon to support the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Without him, our list would surely not be complete. Apart from being a world-famous actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger is known as a key figure in the history of bodybuilding. At the beginning of his bodybuilding career, Schwarzenegger also took part in several Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting competitions. In 1970, Schwarzenegger won the Mr. Olympia competition at the age of 23 and became the youngest Mr. Olympia ever — and he still holds the record to this day.

Had you ever heard anything about the athletic pasts of these actors before you read our article? What sports do you play? What do you like most about playing these sports?


I think Dwayne Johnson is still really well known for his wrestling days
Whenever I see a picture of somones feet in that position (like Statham) mine just cramp up so hard, it looks super uncomfortable

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