Ferdinand latest to don boxing gloves

Ex-Man  United defender  Rio Ferdinand is now  a professional boxer. His trainer is    Richie Woodhall, who dethroned SA's legend Thulani Malinga as WBC champ  in 1998. /Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Ex-Man United defender Rio Ferdinand is now a professional boxer. His trainer is Richie Woodhall, who dethroned SA's legend Thulani Malinga as WBC champ in 1998. /Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

In a growing trend, successful sports personalities from other codes are becoming real players in boxing.

It started way back with New Zealand rugby ace Sonny Bill Williams, former Sheffield United midfielder Curtis Woodhouse and, just recently, mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor and now former England and Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand.

Ferdinand, 38, launched his boxing career a fortnight ago.

The former football star is trained by Richie Woodhall, who South African fight fans might remember as the man who dethroned Thulani "Sugarboy" Malinga of the WBC super middleweight title in 1998.

Woodhall has already confirmed that Ferdinand's first match would not be longer than four rounds.

The former defender, however, revealed that he was "aiming for a belt".

 

"I am taking this seriously. This is not a joke. Boxing can't be a gimmick. If I take it lightly, I will get hurt," Ferdinand told BBC Sport this week.

The likes of Williams and Woodhouse went far in the fistic sport.

Williams won the New Zealand Professional Boxing Association and World Boxing Association (WBA) International heavyweight belts, while Woodhouse held the British light-welterweight belt. Williams also beat legendary former IBF holder Francois "White Buffalo" Botha for the WBA B-grade belt.

McGregor made his professional debut in a billion-dollar fight against American mega star Floyd "Money" Mayweather in late August.

Ghana national soccer team captain Asamoah Gyan, meanwhile, has become a boxing promoter.

Gyan, who plays for Kayserispor in Turkey, staged his first professional tournament in 2012.

"Retired top Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt also wants to become a boxer. These successful persons in their codes will bring with lots of attention and surely their sponsors will also follow them," said Boxing SA chairwoman Muditambi Ravele.

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