He was forced to retire at 25 due to injury, the ex-AFL star turned to driving forklifts.
Now Clay Smith is making a comeback to top-level sport – as a professional boxer.
The 30-year-old will fight boxer Matthew Ereog at the Team Ellis Pretender to Contender event in Melbourne on December 9.
During his seven-year tenure with the Bulldogs from 2012 to 2018, Smith competed at a weight of 85kg.
He is set to compete against Erceg (0-1) at a catchweight of 80kg, but his future goal is to move into the super middleweight category, which has a weight limit of 76kg.
Former AFL star Clay Smith is making a comeback to top-level sport – as a professional boxer at the Team Ellis Pretender to Contender boxing match on December 9. (Pictured left with Matthew Ereog right)
Smith’s ultimate achievement in sports came during a match in front of 99,981 spectators at the MCG in the 2016 final (pictured)
‘I’ve decided to turn pro and I’ll see where it goes,’ Smith said ahead of the fight.
‘In the boxing ring, you can’t really stuff up. In a game of footy, you can make a mistake and you or your teammate makes up for it, but in boxing it’s just you in there and every mistake is magnified.
‘If you make one error, you can get knocked out and it’s all over.
‘When I was at the Bulldogs, we had a boxing coach who took us once a week, so I always enjoyed it.
‘I have always loved the competitive side to footy and the harder edge to it. Boxing was another way I could train.
‘I had to give up footy at an earlier age than I would have liked and I needed to keep my competitive juices flowing, so I turned to boxing.’
The match will also see Mitch Leek (right) fight Lachlan Higgins (left)
Tommy Fitzgerald (right) will jump in the ring against Jitti Thobwan (left)
Smith’s ultimate achievement in sports came during a match in front of 99,981 spectators at the MCG in the 2016 final.
He scored a goal and managed 13 disposals while collaborating closely with his team members from the Bulldogs.
The match will also see Mitch Leek fight Lachlan Higgins.
Tommy Fitzgerald will jump in the ring against Jitti Thobwan.
Those who can’t make it to Melbourne can stream the match live at Teamellis.tv.
Those who can’t make it to Melbourne can stream the match live at Teamellis.tv