He won't end up as David Haye's next opponent, but it's fair to say Formula One legend Michael Schumacher has provided the former world heavyweight champion with plenty of inspiration ahead of his planned comeback on June 29 in Manchester.
The two sporting juggernauts met in Dubai this week and, thanks to Skydive Dubai, were able to jump out of a plane together and live to tell the tale.
“We both turned up at Skydive Dubai completely unannounced and I couldn't believe my luck when I saw Michael Schumacher getting ready to jump,” said Haye. “It's not every day you randomly bump into one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all-time. And Michael Schumacher is pretty much the Muhammad Ali of his sport.
“I have followed his career for years and sometimes even imagined being him when cruising the roads of south London in my younger days. So, to get the chance to meet him, totally out of the blue, has really made the whole trip worthwhile.”
The 32-year-old Haye has been training in Dubai for the best part of two weeks and has used the trip to kick-start a lengthy training camp ahead of his return to the ring this summer. Yet his much-anticipated comeback has nothing on Schumacher, the former seven-time Formula One world champion who, in 2010, shocked the world by returning to his sport at 41 years of age.
“In his prime, Michael was as good as anyone in Formula One history,” said Haye, “but what I admire just as much as his world title wins was his willingness to give it another go in his forties, when he was removed from his prime years. That showed a lot of guts and conviction on his part. It also showed he could still hang in a new era of racing, one that had benefitted from many technological advancements. Most competitors would have been fearful of coming back at that age, as it may have tarnished their legacy, but not Michael.
“Personally speaking, I don't want to wait until I'm in my forties to launch a comeback. I feel as fit and fresh as I've ever felt right now, and, in heavyweight terms, I'm still young at 32. My peak athletic years are ahead of me and I'm keen to maximise my potential during that time. No good can come from sitting on the shelf when you know you can still do it better than everyone else.”