Former England and Manchester Utd defender, Rio Ferdinand, has today announced that he will start a career in professional boxing, at the age of 38.
The legendary defender has continuously posted boxing videos on his social media accounts, and has been a huge fan of boxing itself; he was at AJ’s last fight with Wladimir Klitschko, pictured holding all the belts.
He hasn’t been the only ex footballer to attempt boxing, as former Birmingham midfielder, Curtis Woodhouse, had also taken up boxing, and eventually won the British super lightweight championship little over 3 years ago.
On his bold decision to take up the sport, he said:
“I’m doing this because it’s a challenge,”
“I’ve won titles and now I’m aiming for a belt.”
Unlike Woodhouse, Ferdy may face the same outcome as what Freddy Flintoff had. The former cricketer for England decided to try his hand at boxing in 2012, but had only one fight which took place in December 2012. Although he won his only debut fight, he decided to retire.
Ferdinand has stated that it was Betfair who had contacted him and suggested him to start a career in boxing, the operator will also aid him in getting a boxing license from the British Boxing Board of control.
Ferdinand goes on to say:
“When Betfair approached me about the challenge, the chance to prove myself in a new sport was a real draw,”
However, Robert Smith, the British Boxing Board of Control general secretary, had suggested that the board had not yet received an application
He says: “I was completely surprised,”
“We don’t have an application, so there’s nothing to consider. Nor have we had any conversation with anybody regarding this.”
The former defender will be coached by former World super-middleweight champ, Richie Woodhall, who has said:
“In all honesty, I think Rio can definitely box as a professional given time. He has natural power in his right hand, is extremely fit and is very enthusiastic to learn which is encouraging,”
“Style wise, he’s very raw and I’ll have to develop this, which will take time, but he has all the natural ingredients, height and reach advantages over boxers in his weight division and definitely has potential to win a title in the future.”
With all of this, there has been some criticism from Boxing promoter, Barry Hearn, who had suggested that Ferdinand may not even get his license. In a statement to BBC Radio 5 live, he said:
“It’s laughable. I like Rio, don’t get me wrong, but this is an advert for a reality TV show.
“If Tony Bellew, David Haye or Anthony Joshua hit Rio Ferdinand it would probably be prosecutable by the police for using a deadly weapon. He could get himself badly hurt.
“It’s OK if it’s just a bit of fun, making a TV show and making some money. I wish him luck, I hope he enjoys it but be very careful because it’s dangerous.
“He could get badly hurt and no promoter is going to sanction that. He’s being totally naive and underestimating boxing.”
Ferdinand says that he is committed to the challenge of winning a title in boxing, despite having no previous experience or training whatsoever. If he is granted a license, then Ferdy will probably box as a light heavyweight or cruiserweight.