Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has announced that he will turn to professional boxing in bid to make a mark on the sport.
The 38-year-old Red Devil legend, who made the announcement via Twitter, will follow in the footsteps of retired professional cricketer Freddy Flintoff, but insists that it will not be a one-off event.
“When Betfair approached me about the Defender to Contender challenge, the chance to prove myself in a new sport was a real deal.” Ferdinand said.
“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.”
Ferdinand has already started intensive training with former super-middleweight champion Richie Woodhall ahead of applying for his British Boxing Board of Control license as he plans a series of fights in the next 12 months should he succeed in getting one.
The former Manchester United defender is friends with current boxing world champion Anthony Joshua and has attended a number of his fights including his title-winning bout with Wladimir Klitchko, but according to his esteemed trainer, Ferdinand has some way to go to reach that level.
Woodhall 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 some 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.”