World champion heavyweight boxer: Going vegan made me stronger than I've ever been

David Haye vegan

"I think," says David Haye, "that I'm now fitter than I've ever been. I punch harder than ever. I'm more determined. I'm faster..."

David Haye, the former two time world champion heavyweight boxer, is making a comeback after more than three years away from the ring - completely powered by plants.

In 2014 Haye sustained a serious shoulder injury which caused doctors to advise him to retire from boxing. But instead of retiring, Haye chose instead to have full reconstructive surgery on his shoulder, a procedure that required months of rehabilitation. He was bedridden for some period and researched training methods and wellbeing techniques that would give him the edge.

Haye tells the Telegraph: 

"I knew how many athletes have had these sorts of injuries and just not come back. When people get injured it's very easy to get sad, but that lets off these crappy stress hormones in your brain that don't assist at all in your recovery. Whenever I felt negative I tricked my brain into finding the good things in that situation, using it as a chance to develop."

The biggest lifestyle change Haye made was his diet, deciding towards the end of 2014 to entirely remove all animal products from his diet. He's now keen to promote the vegan diet as not just a viable path for professional athletes, but the most effective diet too.

And you'll be glad to know Haye isn't just vegan for the health benefits. "I watched a TV documentary about how animals are farmed, killed and prepared for us to eat", he explained.

"I saw all those cows and pigs and realised I couldn’t be a part of it any more. It was horrible. I did some research to make sure I could still obtain enough protein to fight and, once satisfied that I could, I stopped. I’ll never go back."

"A lot of the meat that people eat has been genetically modified, or if it hasn't then the food the animal's been fed has been. That's tough for a human being to process, so cutting it out made me feel immediately better and stronger than ever. Not only my weight, either – I used to get eczema but don't any more; used to get dandruff, now I don't. Everyone should try it for one or two days a week." [Editors note: 7 days a week is better!]

Rather than whey protein powder an unwanted by-product from milk production – Haye prefers plant-based protein sources like split pea, quinoa and brown rice. To those questioning how a vegan could be so strong, he points to the animal kingdom.

"What's the closest relative to a human?" he asks. "The ape. They're 20 times stronger than man but they're predominantly vegan. The only difference is they eat so much more than we do. We wouldn't be able to process all those plants, but you can if you have vegan protein shakes."

So how's his boxing going now? In January, after 3 years of recovery, Haye returned to the ring at 16st 3lb 5oz (227lb) stronger and heavier than ever before and knocked out his opponent (Australian De Mori) with an overhand right in just 124 seconds. It was clear that the Hayemaker was back in business.

Haye's next fight (marketed as "Haye Day 2") will take place on 21st May 2016 at The O2 in London. Haye's pursuit of reclaiming and unifying the heavyweight world titles is in progress. His opponent is Swiss fighter Arnold Gjergjaj, and the fight will be available to watch for free on the UK TV channel 'Dave'.

All the best for the next fight David - we hope it goes well. Thank you for being a vocal advocate against animal cruelty, and demonstrating to people you don't need meat or diary to be healthy or perform at the highest levels of sport.

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