Cricketer to cage-fighter
During his cricketing career with Surrey and England, Adam Hollioake faced up to some of the fiercest fast bowlers the game has ever seen.
Now, he's taking on a whole new breed of opponent, but one equally intent on inflicting physical damage.
Four years after hanging up his cricket spikes for good, the former England one-day captain is embarking on a career as a professional boxer and cage-fighter in Queensland, Australia.
Having already fought once as a boxer - knocking his opponent out in the fourth round on Friday - Hollioake will make his Mixed Martial Arts debut (the official name for cage-fighting) in the Days of Glory promotion on 5 May.
"I think a lot of people think 'why are you doing this?'" says Hollioake. "But there's nothing stranger that the fact that it's something that I love.
"I hate golf, which is what most cricketers play, so I've got to try to find something as a pastime that works for me."
Adam Hollioake played four Tests and 35 one-day internationals for England before retiring in 2004. Photo: Getty
Hollioake, 40, has always had a passion for fighting sports, and had boxing lessons as a teenager, but the path to an unlikely career change began in 2010 when a broken ankle led him to fall out of shape.
"During the next four or five months I stacked on 15-20 kilos and although I tried going on diets the weight wasn't coming off," he recalls.
"My wife said to me 'you need a challenge'. She said I'm not vain enough to care about my appearance but I have a massive ego and hate losing so I needed to challenge myself into doing something to keep the weight off.
"So I got talking to a guy who does Jiu-Jitsu and is also a boxing coach. He said 'had I considered having a professional fight?'
"Another friend of mine is involved in the Mixed Martial Arts scene here on the Gold Coast. He said it wouldn't be hard for me to put it all together and fight as a pro."
Months of training and sparring followed, with Hollioake regularly rising at 5.30am to begin his strength and conditioning work.
"The training is really hard, but short," says Hollioake. "It's not like a 10km jog, where you feel comfortable the whole way through. In this, you blast yourself for 15 minutes, training at 100%. Stuff that is so intense that it makes you throw up.
"I've always been an impatient person. That's why I struggled in Test matches and preferred the 50-over stuff. And then when Twenty20 came along, I was like 'now we're talking!'"
Despite the training being a far cry from a gentle afternoon net session, Hollioake says cage-fighting and cricket have more similarities than may initially meet the eye.
"In fighting, as in cricket, if someone has the upper had on you it becomes a bit more daunting and you have to dig deep," he says.
"But if you are feeling confident in yourself and you are facing a fast bowler you are not physically scared and you just back your ability."
After captaining Surrey to three county championship titles and playing in four Tests and 34 one-day internationals, Hollioake retired in 2004 and moved back to Australia, the country of his birth.
He immersed himself in charity and media work and set up a property development business.
The recession hit his business hard, however, and Hollioake made the headlines last year when the collapse of his company led to him being declared bankrupt by a Brisbane court.
Nine months on and Hollioake says he is starting to get his finances back in order, although he insists the move into fighting is not financially motivated.
"I only got paid $1,000 Aussie (£647) for my first boxing fight which is probably about a week's food bill for me and my three kids," he says.
"I'm just trying to get myself back on my feet. I've got a little bit of property, some promotional products and some phone applications based on training which I'm about to launch.
"As for the fighting, I don't know where it's going to go. I might win and never want to fight again or I might lose and want to carry on fighting for the rest of my life.
"I'm not thinking any further ahead than tomorrow because I might wake up tomorrow and think I don't want to fight any more."