Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has confirmed that he will be swapping boots for gloves by taking on a new challenge in the world of boxing.
The ex-England international has announced that he will be seeking to become a professional in another sporting field at the age of 38, and two years after he retired from the football ranks.
Ferdinand spent close to 20 years at the very highest level during an illustrious playing career which saw him grace the books of West Ham, Leeds, Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers – while winning 81 caps for his country.
He is now moving in a different direction, as part of the ‘Defender to Contender’ project, and is hoping that the support of Betfair will allow him to earn his British Boxing Board of Control licence before stepping into the ring within the paid ranks.
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.”
Ferdinand will be training with former WBC super-middleweight champion Richie Woodhall.
The Olympic boxing trainer 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.”
Betfair will be introducing a number of former and current boxers to Ferdinand at key points throughout his campaign in an effort to help him prepare for specific fights and hone his skill set.