PuraPhy 20 is a ranked list of individuals who fit in different categories who—right now—wield significant influence in the world of hemp oil/CBD be it with consumers, businesses, governmental officials, regulatory agencies or others. PuraPhy believes that to hold genuine power is to have the ability to persuade and influence wide swaths of relevant stakeholders. PuraPhy 20’s categories will include celebrities, politicians, athletes, scientists, influencers and more.
PuraPhy 20 list below ranks some of the biggest athletes on the planet based on just how influential they are in shaping public opinion about the use of hemp oil/CBD and how it impacts both the exploding industry as well as the sports and pop cultural zeitgeist in the US. From Evander Holyfield to Rob Gronkowski and from Megan Rapinoe to Alex Rodriguez, the roster of superstar jocks who use and love hemp oil/CBD is as eclectic as one might expect.
BY RICHARD PÉREZ-FERIA
**The PuraPhy 20 is meant to illustrate the individual’s public statements about hemp oil/CBD and in no way states or implies any medical benefits from such use.
1. EVANDER HOLYFIELD
Internationally known as the former heavyweight champion of the world, the boxing living legend has come on strong to try to take the title of most influential athlete in the increasingly crowded and competitive hemp oil/CBD space. More than just endorsing a product, Holyfield is a full partner in Resin Sports, a fairly new online retailer, selling exclusively products with hemp oil/CBD, including the company’s Real Deal CBD. “While I’m grateful for the successes that I’ve had in my boxing career, I have to admit that I put my body through a lot of challenges along the way. From the results I’ve seen, I know that our Real Deal CBD will help a lot of people,” Holyfield said. From boxing icon to CBD business magnate, Evander Holyfield wants to knock you out.
2. MEGAN RAPINOE
Unquestionably, Megan Rapinoe is an absolute superstar. With her career-making performance during the FIFA Women’s World Cup—FIFA named her Women’s Player Of The Year, the first American since Carli Lloyd three years earlier—Rapinoe has firmly established herself as the soccer player most American girls admire. Now, she’s a CBD star, too. Rapinoe has joined her twin sister, Rachael, co-founder at Mendi, a hemp oil/CBD brand that promote their hemp-derived products for athletes to help with their recovery. Megan serves as a sponsored Mendi athlete and its brand ambassador. Known as a disruptor for causes she believes in off the pitch, Rapinoe asked why she’s backing a company in an industry often ostracized by professional sport leagues. “Mendi’s mission really stuck with me,” Rapinoe said. “The desire to serve the athletes and be our trusted brand, but also their commitment to a healthier lifestyle, and changing the status quo around pain management and sports.”
3. ALEX RODRIGUEZ
A-Rod is a hard-working hustler. From his other worldly baseball career culminating as yet another New York Yankees legend to his myriad entrepreneurial ventures in the sporting and business realms, you can feel the man’s ambition. And he aims high, to be the best (that drive must translate to his personal life, too, since he’s engaged to talent powerhouse and world-class beauty Jennifer Lopez). Enter CBD. As an initial investor, along with Rob Gronkowski, in Ice Shaker, a company founded by Gronk’s brother, Chris Gronkowski, A-Rod whet his appetite for further exploration into the hemp oil/CBD industry. Rodriguez, joined by fellow financial partners Kate Hudson, Scooter Braun and Coca-Cola, is an investor in Dirty Lemon owner Iris Nova. Though Iris Nova has discontinued its popular CBD-infused bottled water, Rodriguez, Coca-Cola and others remain convinced that because of changes to US regulations that will assuredly legalize industrial hemp, CBD drinks and other CBD investments remain sound.
4. ROB GRONKOWSKI
Probably the most overt athlete promoting hemp oil/CBD is the legendary tight end for perennial Super Bowl champs, New England Patriots (and now Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ standout), Rob Gronkowski. Seriously, Gronk is all in for CBD. He’s signed an unprecedented—and heavily promoted—endorsement deal with Abacus Health Products under its CBDMEDIC label. Gronk says the pain relief hemp-derived products changed his life. “I wish I had been able to use CBDMEDIC while I was playing,” Gronkowski said. “It would have made a huge difference in my pain management during my career and I know it can help many others who are looking for safe, pill-free solutions to managing pain.” Gronk is also co-owner, along with his brother Chris, of Ice Shaker, an innovative alternative to individual blenders.
5. MIKE TYSON
Is it possible that some day, in our lifetime, Mike Tyson, heavyweight champion of the world and unequivocally arguably the universe’s most famous living boxer, will be known more as the owner of Tyson Ranch, a company the superstar describes as a licensing and branding enterprise, with a goal of making cannabis universally understood. In short, Tyson Ranch isn’t only the highly anticipated 420(!)-acre cannabis resort, it’s Ground Zero for the iconic boxer’s booming cannabis empire under the banner Tyson Holistic Holdings. The boxer is also selling a line of CBD-enhanced beverages known as DWiiNK. (The beverages are infused with 10mg of CBD and are available in four flavors, including unflavored water). In case there remains any question about how Tyson feels about CBD, the boxing legend told Joey Diaz’s podcast, “Yeah, I think CBD is the miracle oil,” before detailing his favorite CBD tinctures, gummies and ointments. Photo by Glenn Francis
6. BUBBA WATSON
One of the most exciting golfers to watch in the world—his two victories at The Masters were as entertaining as they were impressive—Bubba Watson is also the golf world’s most famous advocate for CBD products. Watson’s working with cbdMD and their line of products. “I’ve personally felt the benefits of cbdMD’s products,” the two-time Green Jacket holder said. “cbdMD is the safest on the market and I’m proud to partner with them to help millions feel better.” That’s pretty much a hole-in-one as far as endorsements go. Photo courtesy of Golf.com
7. DAVID WELLS
Way, way back in 2016—actually the same week that Donald Trump upended conventional wisdom by defeating Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College—former New York Yankees’ all-star pitcher endorsed the Greensticks CBD Vaporizer saying, “The vaporizer helped cure me from the demons of the diamond,” referring to repetitive use injuries which plague many players, particularly pitchers, Wells very much included. The longtime star hurler is more than a mere pitchman for the product—he’s an outright activist for the wide-ranging benefits of CBD use. “Currently, if you’re a solider in Israel and you have a head injury in the battlefield, you get CBD on the battlefield,” Wells said. “If you have a heart attack or a stroke and you go to the emergency room in Jerusalem, you get CBD on the way up to the floor. Look, I’m three-and-a-half years painkiller-free. That’s pretty good.”
8. TERRELL DAVIS
The former NFL legend, and Denver Bronco one-man wrecking crew, Terrell Davis is apparently taking the same approach to his latest venture, CBD advocacy. The two-time Super Bowl champion is calling for the NFL to allow players to use CBD. As the co-founder of the CBD-infused sports drink brand Defy, the football great isn’t messing around. “It’s a beautiful thing; it’s worked for me,” Davis said speaking of CBD. “It’s worked for a lot of players. In a few years, hopefully sooner rather than later, CBD will be something that players who are currently playing will be able to use as a measure of taking care of the pain management, the inflammation.”
9. JOHN ISNER
Widely believed to be the first top-tier tennis player to endorse a CBD product, John Isner, the perennial Top 15 American star, has endorsed Defy, the first mainstream CBD beverage targeted at athletes, co-launched by former NFL great Terrell Davis. “I play a sport where taking a single point off can be the difference between winning and losing a match and Defy is a product specifically intended to put me in a position to perform on every single point,” Isner said. Photo by Edwin Martinez
10. TONY HAWK
Professional skateboarding demigod, Tony Hawk, has—you guessed it!—entered the frenzied CBD market with his partnership with Infused MFG, a subsidiary of 1933 Industries. With nearly 15 million fans and followers on social media, Hawk is adamant about the value of CBD-infused products. “We’re excited to be a part of this movement that’s becoming more recognized as a healthy alternative to recovering from the aches and pains that we regularly incur in the action sports world,” Hawk said. Photo by Stig Nygaard
11. NATE DIAZ
Few superstars in the UFC are as polarizing as Nate Diaz, CBD trailblazer. Famously vaping CBD oil during the Conor McGregor post-fight interview way back in 2016, Diaz is nothing if a man who sticks to his belief system. So much so, that he and his brother, and fellow MMA star, Nick Diaz, launched CBD-infused, plant-based nutrition company, Game Up Nutrition, that sells CBD products including hemp oils, hemp flower and CBD Pre-Rolls. There’s no denying two truths about Nate Diaz: 1) He’s as quotable and blunt as any professional athlete in the world; 2) he means what he says; i.e. his first words after reporters asked him what he was vaping after that notorious bout with McGregor: “CBD—it’s good for healing and storing information. You want to use this before and after the fight.” See what we mean?
12. RILEY COTE
Former NHL player, Riley Cote, played four seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers and was mainly known as an enforcer. Upon retiring from the sport, Cote became a widely known cannabis/hemp advocate arguing that cannabis and hemp helps to increase the quality lives of all people. His product line, BodyChek Wellness, features hemp-based personal care products. Cote says his passion is to help individuals discover safe, nontoxic methods for pain management and self-healing. Riley says his company supports balance and recovery for everybody and every body. Clever, no?
13. JAKE PLUMMER
Jumping on the growing number of ex-NFL stars openly advocating for the league to allow CBD use to help players, former Denver Broncos’ quarterback, Jake Plummer, insists that CBD could be a viable, safe alternative to potent painkillers used by so many current football players. Plummer and several partners are raising funds for cannabis and CBD research at several universities. CW Botanicals, another partner the effort, and its CEO, Joel Stanley, recently compared the safety of taking CBD-infused products with that of taking Vitamin C. Plummer has also advocated for Charlotte’s Web CBD, a hemp oil.
14. RYAN VANDENBUSSCHE
After a career that nearly lasted a decade as an enforcer for several NHL teams (most notably the Chicago Blackhawks), Ryan VandenBussche was introduced to CBD after retiring from the sport with more than 20 concussions under his belt. He was so pleased with the results, he’s partnered with Athletes For Care, an organization that aims to teach athletes about CBD. “As athletes, we were given opiates by our team doctors,” VandenBussche said. “Looking back after years gone by, I’m surprised I’m still alive. I believe in all of the healing properties of this [hemp] plant so much that I went out and purchased a 64-acre farm and submitted an application to Health Canada back in 2013.”
15. GRETA GAINES
As one of CBD advocacy organization Athletes For Care “Athlete Ambassadors,” professional snowboarder Greta Gaines ain’t messing around. She’s currently the Co-founder and CEO of Love + Hemp, a CBD beauty company as well as—wait for it!—a Nashville-based country singer. With partner Jodi Banks, Gaines says that Love + Hemp exemplifies a clear ethos: “We believe in the idea that well balanced skin is the key to a healthy glow and that Cannabidiol (CBD) has innate healing qualities for body and mind.”
16. DAVID AHRENS
The long-retired former linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts, David Ahrens has joined the chorus of many former NFL players singing the praises of CBD’s benefits. As part of Athletes For Care, the pro-CBD advocacy group of former professional jocks, Ahrens spent years using opioids to manage his chronic, post-career pain before trying CBD. Ahrens advocates for CBD use because of how much it has helped him. “I don’t need pain meds like I used to,” he said. “Every day there are TV commercials advertising the next best drug, and the second half of the commercial is all about possible side effects. Well, I’ve never heard of a side effect from CBD.”
17. LIZ CARMOUCHE
For mixed martial arts artist Liz Carmouche, hemp-derived products and CBD are way more than a trendy new thing to try, but a critical part of her MMA routine. Known as “Girl-Rilla,” Carmouche became the first openly gay fighter in UFC history and is a spokesperson for HempMeds, a hemp oil/CBD company. “There are still people who are living under a rock, which is the best way that I can phrase it,” Carmouche says of some’s reluctance to embrace CBD as a viable treatment option. “They really just don’t know about the difference between THC and CBD and they don’t know all the benefits. Look, I’m not the person who’s using THC recreationally, and that’s why I’m using CBD. That’s not what CBD is for. I’ll just try and speak out in that way and be a representative the best way I can.”
18. CHRIS CAMOZZI
Mixed martial artist and UFC veteran Chris Camozzi has predictably been suffering from pain and inflammation (given his chosen profession, that’s par for the course). After a severe knee injury, Camozzi discovered CBD to aid in his wellness routine and relief of symptoms. “With CBD you get all the health benefits without the high,” Camozzi said. “CBD works off your brain’s own endocannabinoid system. I’ve got an injury list that makes Suge Knight’s rap sheet look short. I wanted to focus on recovering from my torn MCL, so I tried CBD oil. I healed my knee faster than my docs had ever seen. I was a believer. CBD and blood flow restriction therapy healed me in ways I have never before experienced.”
19. RICK UPCHURCH
The third Denver Bronco to make PuraPhy’s exclusive list of CBD athlete influencers, wide receiver and punt return specialist Rick Upchurch possesses no less than 11 team records including the three most important special teams records: most punt returns (248) punt return yards (5,363) and punt return touchdowns (8). A longtime cannabis user (testing wasn’t as frequent back in the day so he avoided the scrutiny that, say, Ricky Williams couldn’t), Upchurch is also—now this is interesting—the ex-fiancé of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice! He came to using CBD via vaping to cope with the pain and nausea of his chemotherapy treatment after being diagnosed with leukemia. For him, CBD isn’t just an alternative pain-reliever, it’s been instrumental in his recovery. When asked if CBD has been helpful to him, he’s unequivocal: “Without a doubt,” Upchurch said. “Otherwise, I’d be in bad shape, I really would.” Photo by Jeffrey Beall
20. CARSON PALMER
The recently retired three-time Pro Bowl star NFL quarterback has long suffered from chronic neck and back pain. The father of four says he simply couldn’t lift weights because of the pain. During the quarantine for COVID-19, Palmer realized that the CBD products he’s been using to combat his aches and pains each day—he partnered with performance-based CBD sports cream Level Select in 2019—actually worked. “My body started feeling good and it really got me excited to lift again,” Palmer said. “I look forward to getting up every day and doing it now.” The former Bengals, Raiders and Cardinals offensive leader elaborated. “After playing for 15 years, it feels like there’s a headache in my knee 24 hours a day and Level Select was an instant game changer,” Palmer said. “My knee feels great now; it actually made me feel like I’m a better father because I’m more active and can keep up with my younger kids.”