From Cricket Captain to Cage Fighter: A Journey of Leadership and Self-Discovery with Adam Hollioake


As the host of the Courage to Lead Interview Series, I recently had the pleasure of welcoming a special guest from all over the world, Adam Hollioake. A former cricketer and captain of the Surrey cricket team, Adam’s journey of leadership and self-discovery is nothing short of inspiring.

The Unexpected Leader

Adam’s first experience of leadership came unexpectedly when he was asked to captain the Surrey cricket team at the tender age of 21. Despite having no prior leadership experience, Adam accepted the challenge with humility, acknowledging his lack of experience and seeking guidance from his teammates.

Among those who mentored him were cricket legends like Alex Stewart, Graham Thorpe, Saqlain Mushtaq, Azhar Mahmood, and Martin Bicknell. Alex Stewart, in particular, played a pivotal role in helping Adam navigate the responsibilities of captaincy and introduced him to the world of cricket committee meetings.

The Fiery Leader

Adam’s fiery and rebellious streak, which initially made others doubt his leadership potential, became a strength as he learned to manage his emotions and anger. His honesty and openness about his struggles and growth as a leader are commendable.

The Spiritual Leader

In a surprising revelation, Adam shared his newfound religious faith. Despite his background in professional boxing and cage fighting, Adam has become quite religious, attending church a couple of times a week. This unexpected interest in religion, influenced by his mother and a self-help book “The Power of Positive Thinking,” shows Adam’s willingness to explore new ideas and expand his knowledge – a characteristic of a true leader.

The Evolving Leader

Adam’s journey as a leader in cricket was not something he aspired to. His initial focus was on being the best cricketer he could be. However, he gradually evolved into a leader, taking the role seriously. By the age of 24, he was already captaining the England Lions, and by 25, he became the captain of the English cricket team.

The Reflective Leader

Adam’s leadership journey was not without its ups and downs. He recalls leading his team to victory in a cricket tournament where they were the underdogs. However, he also faced a challenging situation where his own position in the team was being questioned. He made decisions based on others’ expectations rather than his own instincts, leading to a loss. This experience taught him the importance of staying true to himself and the pain of regret being worse than the pain of losing.

The Humble Leader

Adam emphasises the importance of humility as a leader. He believes that acknowledging the expertise of others and showing respect for their knowledge creates a positive and productive atmosphere. He also stresses the importance of self-reflection and honesty in understanding oneself.

The Fighter

Adam’s transition from cricket to boxing and MMA came after he retired from cricket at the age of 32. He felt lost and needed to be back in a competitive world. Boxing and cricket both require mental toughness, and through boxing, Adam learned to organise his thinking and manage his emotions during fights.

The Resilient Leader

Adam’s resilience and perseverance have played a significant role in his life. Despite numerous failures in cricket, fighting, and life, he has learned to overcome these challenges and not let them define him. He is currently involved in mental health initiatives, particularly in men’s mental health, and is pursuing a study in sports psychology.

Words of Wisdom

Adam’s advice for someone embarking on a leadership journey is not to take oneself too seriously and not to act as if one knows everything just because they are the leader. He emphasises the importance of humility and accepting advice from the people being led.


Adam’s journey from cricket captain to cage fighter is a testament to his courage, resilience, and leadership. His insights and experiences provide valuable lessons for anyone embarking on a leadership journey. As the host of the Courage to Lead Interview Series, I am grateful for Adam’s openness and honesty, and I look forward to sharing more inspiring stories of leadership in the future.