SPORTS

Sepp Blatter resignation: Recalling 7 shocking sports retirements

06/02/2015 10:25 EDT | Updated 06/02/2016 05:59 EDT
Just four days after being elected to a fifth term as FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, in the midst of a corruption scandal, announced he would resign from his post once a successor is found. Here are seven sudden retirements that stunned the sports world.

Rocky Marciano - Boxing

The undefeated heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Rocky Marciano went out on top in 1956 at the age of 32, a few months after knocking out Archie Moore in his sixth title defence. The hard-charging Marciano, from Brockton, Massachusetts, was known for his relentless punishing style and iron jaw. At five-foot-11, 190 pounds he compiled the greatest knockout percentage of any professional boxer, 87.75 per cent, knocking out 43 of 49 opponents.

Marciano won his first pro fight in 1947 and defeated former world heavyweight champion Joe Louis in 1951. A year later he won the heavyweight title with a 13th round knockout of Jersey Joe Walcott. 

Jim Brown - Football

Named the greatest pro football player ever by The Sporting News in 2002, Jim Brown led the National Football League in rushing eight times. He played for the Cleveland Browns from 1957-65 and scored 100 touchdowns in his first 93 games. He set the NFL record for rushing with 1,863 yards in 1963, a mark that still stands as the best ever by a Cleveland player. When he called it quits in 1965 Brown held the career rushing yardage record with 12,312 yards.

But at the age of 29 Brown followed his yearning for an acting career which began in 1964 with a role in the film Rio Conchos. By 1967 Brown had a major role in The Dirty Dozen and played a lead role in dozens of films all the way through 2014's The Draft.

Johan Cruyff - Soccer

The star of the Netherlands football team that went to the 1974 World Cup Final championship match (a 2-1 loss to Germany), Johan Cruyff won the Golden Ball as the most valuable player of the tournament. He scored 33 goals in only 48 international matches for the Dutch before suddenly announcing his retirement from international competition shortly before the team was headed to Argentina for the 1978 World Cup.

At first Cruyff, who helped the Netherlands qualify for the 1978 competition, was said to have withdrawn from the team because he was against the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina at the time. However, later it was revealed that Cruyff's family was involved in a kidnapping attempt in Barcelona the previous year and that he didn't want the strain of being away from them.

Bjorn Borg - Tennis

The Swedish player with ice water in his veins, Bjorn Borg won 11 Grand Slam tournaments in the late 70's and early 80's, dominating at the French Open (six wins) and Wimbledon (five consecutive titles), with his last major triumph coming at Roland Garros in 1981. After losing to John McEnroe in the 1981 U.S. Open final, Borg knew he was at the end of the line, despite 64 career titles.

He hardly played in 1982 and announced his retirement in January, 1983. Bjorn was just 26.

Michael Jordan - Basketball 

There have been three retirements by Michael Jordan, the first, in 1993, was a stunner. A five-time National Basketball Association MVP, Jordan was coming off the Chicago Bulls' three-peat of the NBA title earlier that year. Jordan said he lacked any desire to compete and cited the murder of his father the year before as a reason to quit. He also said his father's wish was for him to play professional baseball and Jordan played in the Southern League, under manager Terry Francona, but proved not to be a superstar with a .202 average, including just three home runs and 51 RBIs.

Jordan returned to the Bulls for another three-peat from 1996-98, retired for a second time and then played for the Washington Wizards before finally retiring for good.

Kirby Puckett - Baseball

A 10-time all-star outfielder, Kirby Puckett was the heart of two World Series championship teams with the Minnesota Twins in 1987 and 1991. The six-time Silver Slugger award winner led the American League in hitting in 1989 with a .337 average.

In spring training in Florida in 1996, Puckett, 36, woke up one March morning and couldn't see out of his right eye. Diagnosed with glaucoma, he endured three surgeries but announced his retirement in July of that year. 

Lorena Ochora - Golf

The world's top golfer for three years from 2007-2010, Lorena Ochoa, the first Mexican to rise to number one in the Ladies Professional Golf Association rankings, walked away from the pro tour in May, 2010 at the age of 28.

A winner of 27 tour events including major championships in 2007 and 2008, Ochoa said she had realized her dreams of playing 10 years on the tour and reaching No. 1 status.

The Guadalajara native hosts the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in support of her foundation which operates a school in Guadalajara for 250 under-privileged children.

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