- “The sexiest doctor alive” is putting the stethoscope down to pick up boxing gloves instead.
- Doctor Mike — an internet sensation — competes Saturday on Showtime pay-per-view.
- “The doctor is about to prescribe a KO,” he told Insider. “And you should all tune in.”
“The sexiest doctor alive” is removing his stethoscope to pick up boxing gloves for a pro debut Saturday at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, on Showtime pay-per-view.
Meet Mikhail Varshavski, affectionately known as Doctor Mike — a nickname his school friends gave him when they went to him for diagnoses of their sports injuries.
The nickname has stuck and, despite many “Dr. Mikes” on the internet, the search term is one he now dominates after amassing a 22-million-strong social media following, thanks to an online presence as a local, family physician.
Varshavski is following the Jake Paul playbook, parlaying that popularity into boxing, where he competes against MMA fighter Chris Avila on the same card Paul fights MMA great Anderson Silva.
A fighting doctor might seem like a juxtaposition. “But it’s not where most people think,” he told Insider recently.
“It exists in a place where I, as a doctor, was not wanting to hurt my opponent because I’m so used to healing people. So that was a hurdle I had to get over.”
Over time and practice, Varshavski realized he had to suspend his “do no harm” oath as a physician whenever he steps into the ring.
This is Varshavski’s last chance to be a pro athlete, he said
Varshavski said he had been athletic growing up and was even a keen taekwondo fighter. But learning family medicine became his priority in college.
“This is kind of my last hoorah of trying to be a professional athlete because I’m aging out of that window,” the 32-year-old told us. “Now, being in my prime and being able to be physically fit, smart, sharp, this is my best chance to succeed in a sport I’ve developed a tremendous passion for.”
Boxing “is unlike any other sport,” said Varshavski. “You have to be incredibly body tough, which means strong, well-conditioned, and mentally tough, as you’re in there by yourself.
“You need to learn to count on yourself which is a lot like life because you have to succeed on your own and ride the hard times. Boxing is exactly that. It’s a great reflection of how life is.”
Varshavski, who beat content creator iDubbbz in an exhibition earlier this summer, said he believes he’s succeeding in boxing because of how he lived his life to this point.
He told Insider he came “to the United States very poor” from Russia, and lived off of welfare programs. A young Mikhail got bullied as a kid in New York, he said, as he did not know English at the time.
“I understand what it’s like to struggle with that, and overcoming that has really prepared me for the struggles that exist inside that ring,” he said.
Varshavski, though, said there’s a second juxtaposition when it comes to being a fighting doctor.
“I don’t want to send the wrong message to my patients, or my followers. I’m not encouraging them to become professional fighters, but I want to encourage them to stay fit, be healthy, and to take classes. Hit the heavy bag.”
You can “get into good shape” using boxing, “but you don’t have to get hit in the head to enjoy and celebrate the sport,” he said.
Varshavski is aware of the risks involved when it comes to pro fighting. “What is safe to you is different to what is safe for someone else,” he said. “Only you as an individual can make that decision.
“My patients do all sorts of activities, and I never say not to do it. I simply explain the risks of what happens if they continue doing it. If as cognizant adults they understand those risks, that’s it. That’s where the conversation ends.
“If I’m rock climbing, I need to understand I can slip and fall. Sky diving — the parachute might not open. In boxing, you can get your head rung pretty badly,” he said.
Being told he’s the sexiest doctor alive
Varshavski was finishing his intern year of residency, which he said was the hardest year, when he received an email that he thought was a prank.
People magazine told him he was being considered as the sexiest doctor alive for 2015. “It didn’t make a lot of sense,” he said.
Varshavski felt like a nerd through high school. “Especially as someone who loved science and math,” he said.
Earning that moniker was “random,” he said, however, he’s since leveraged that title “into getting people to pay attention to health, sickness prevention, and avoiding misinformation.”
So, which would mean more to him — winning his pro debut this weekend, or being called the sexiest boxer alive?
“Oh, pro debut all day long! I can’t wait to get that win,” he said. “And put that newspaper clipping hung up on the wall, to share that victory with my friends, family, my medical colleagues, and my patients.
“My patients are even sending me messages on my electronic medical record wishing me luck, which is not what an electronic medical record is for! But I appreciate the good wishes.”
To any of his patients, or followers, he has one final message.
“The doctor is about to prescribe a KO — and you should all tune in.”