LONDON. – Rio Ferdinand will attempt to become a professional boxer at the age of 38.
The former Manchester United centre-back has always been a big fan of the sport, but has decided to take his love for the discipline a step further. But Ferdinand’s boxing announcement was “surprising” to the British Boxing Board of Control because he hasn’t applied for a licence yet, the organisation claim.
The ex-Manchester United and England football revealed his intention to step into the ring on Monday night but hasn’t yet gone through the necessary procedural steps, according to the BBBofC.
“It was surprising that anybody would announce anything without contacting the governing body,” BBBofC general secretary Robert Smith told Sky Sports. “I have not received an application so there’s nothing to consider. I heard, for the first time, on the radio [on Monday night]. If we receive an application we will consider it, as we have to do. But we’ve had no correspondence from Mr. Ferdinand.”
Asked about former England cricketer Freddie Flintoff’s sole boxing match in 2012, Smith added: “Freddie Flintoff went through a training period for over six months before he even considered applying.”
Ferdinand is nearly 39 years old but, since retiring from football, has frequently posted social media clips of himself in boxing training.
But it now seems Ferdinand will first need to qualify for a British Boxing Board of Control licence, which Betfair is helping him with, before he can really start training and compete for a belt. Speaking about his decision to take up the daunting challenge, Ferdinand said: “When Betfair approached me about the Defender to Contender challenge, the chance to prove myself in a new sport was a real draw.
“Boxing is an amazing sport for the mind and the body. I have always had a passion for it and this challenge is the perfect opportunity to show people what’s possible.
“It’s a challenge I’m not taking lightly, clearly not everyone can become a professional boxer, but with the team of experts Betfair are putting together and the drive I have to succeed, anything is possible.” Speaking to Standard Sport, Ferdinand added: “I’m into keeping fit and one of the big things I have missed since retiring from football in 2015 is the competition, whether it be as a team or as an individual going one-on-one against a striker.
“I just miss that chemical that comes out of you. I have not been able to replace it. This is a great way to get that back. I’m doing this for many reasons. I’m doing this to test myself as a man, as a human being.
Betfair is currently assembling a team of fighters who will help Ferdinand get in tip-top shape ahead of a debut bout, which has yet to be decided. He will be working with former WBC super-middleweight champion turned Team GB trainer, Richie Woodhall, who has already devised him a schedule.
“In all honesty, I think Rio can definitely box as a professional given time,” said Woodhall. – The Mirror.