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The best rags-to-riches stories: Athletes edition

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The Middle East is a region with a hotbed for sports and a burning passion for the best ones around. Soccer is arguably the most popular, and countries such as Iran, Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia are full of ardent soccer fans. It is not just a beautiful game that attracts a loyal regional following. 

Other, newer sports are also beginning to make their mark – with the NFL being a great example. The increased global media exposure it has seen over recent years has enabled it to pick up new fans worldwide. The NFL is also a great sport to bet on, and this also helps make it appealing to many people in the Middle East. Remember to find the latest NFL point spreads if you plan to wager on this league. 

As well as the range of sports to follow, the action they deliver, and the extra spice betting brings to games, the athletes draw fans in. There is something so satisfying about delving into the backstory of your favorite sportsperson and discovering more about them. Many of the top sportspeople in history have had a rags-to-riches journey – but what are the best examples of this? 

LeBron James 

Regarding athletes with inspiring rags to riches stories, NBA superstar LeBron James is hard to beat. Although he might be worth mega money now and widely considered one of the greatest NBA players, life was not always so kind to him. Undoubtedly, he had a strict upbringing which would have crushed lesser people’s dreams of playing top-level sports. 

Initially, this involved living in a ramshackle house on a dirt road with four generations of his family. After this, he spent much of his younger life moving regularly from one apartment to another and living in poverty. However, James never gave up on his basketball dreams and got his big break in the 2003 NBA Draft. Since then, he has won multiple titles and amassed around $1 billion net worth.  

Diego Maradona 

While Ons Jabeur’s tennis journey makes for great reading, the story of soccer star Diego Maradona is a real rags-to-riches tale. This now departed Argentinian wizard was blessed with sublime dribbling, agility, pace, and a superb passing range. He is also a sportsperson who came from a strict background as a child and overcame enormous odds to make it. 

Maradona was one of six children in an impoverished family. This saw his father having to work from 4 am each day just to put food on the table. Although they never had much, young Diego showed football talent, and this was an escape from his rough upbringing. After starting at Argentinos Juniors, he went to substantial European clubs like Barcelona and Napoli. He also starred on the world stage for his country and won a World Cup medal in 1986. 

Mike Tyson 

Mike Tyson is not only the classic rage-to-riches story in sport – he is the classic rags-to-riches back-to-rags and then riches again tale! Young Tyson grew up on the very mean streets of New York and was surrounded by crime, drugs, violence, and poverty daily. After getting into numerous troubles with the police in his youth, Tyson seemed beyond help – but boxing was his savior. 

After coming under the expert guidance of Cus D’Amato and Kevin Rooney, he became one of the most ferocious fighters in sports history. This included an iconic win against Trevor Berbick in 1986 to become the youngest champion in heavyweight history. His meteoric rise continued and saw him amass a considerable fortune. 

He also enjoyed the finer things like flash cars, fancy clothes, and big houses. Although he spent much of his money in later years and endured a period where he was down on his luck, recent years have seen him on top form again as a boxing pundit/celebrity. 

Sport offers a way out for young athletes 

The above are just a few examples of famous athletes who have used sport to turn their life around and escape a tough upbringing. Looking around pro sports in the Middle East and globally, there are many similar tales. This is because sports are open to everyone, and you can excel in them, regardless of your background or wealth. As a result, they offer the ideal way for people to create a better life for themselves.

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