After a match at WrestleMania 33 The Undertaker a 27 year veteran of the WWE, and a pro wrestler since 1984 symbolically placed his gloves, hat and coat in the centre of the ring and retired.
As one of the top stars in the company for over two decades Calaway had some say in the way he wanted to leave. His last match saw him putting over a younger talent and he went out in the main event of the biggest show of the year. However not all people in the public eye have that luck, and some who have the perfect send off later return and retire again.
The legendary Michael Schumacher retired from Formula One in 2006 at the Brazilian Grand Prix, although he didn’t win and lost out on an eighth world title, he was able to battle back from an early pit stop and left on a high. His return with Mercedes between 2010 and 2012 was more or less forgettable.
Not all sports stars have the luxury of choosing their retirement, sometimes an injury can curtail a promising career. Bill Goldberg, who also retired from Wrestling at WrestleMania 33, was originally a defensive tackle in the NFL but a bad injury scuppered that career, at the suggestion of wrestlers Sting and Lex Luger, himself a former pro football player, Goldberg trained to be a wrestler.
Sometimes people can leave it far too long, low impact sports like Golf, Snooker and Darts have many great players who just don’t know when to quit and who keep playing until they run out of ranking points.
After being crowned Snooker World Champion six times in the 1980s Steve Davis arguably carried for a few years too many before retiring in 2016. He had already forged a parallel career as a commentator and pundit, as well as indulging in his love of music by hosting a radio show. This has led to an unlikely career as a DJ in nightclubs around the UK and an acclaimed appearance at the BLOC festival and a slot at Glastonbury.
Of course many musicians have retired only to then launch a comeback. Frank Sinatra was the first, although at least his retirement in the early 70s was genuine and his comeback in 1981 meant as a one off until he realised how much the public missed him.
Pixies originally called it a day in 1993, the reformed group have been touring since 2004. In fact their second bite of the cherry is now longer than their original run.
Some have said the cycle of retirement and comeback is all to make money, and these days when a singer or group retire it’s just a question of how long till the reunion. One exception would be Mötley Crüe who before embarking on their farewell tour, that ended on NYE 2015, signed a “cessation of touring agreement” that prevents all or any of the members touring as Mötley Crüe ever again.
When it came to the subject of retirement the late David Bowie said “I retired in 1968 when I walked out of my job in an insurance company.” Bowie remained creative and relevant right up to his untimely death in 2016.
Perhaps the message isn’t what you do before you retire, but finding a way to retire and pursue the things you love.