Rio Ferdinand swaps football boots for boxing gloves

Wednesday, 20 September 2017, 12:35:24 AM. The former England star admits it will be a challenge but says it is 'the perfect opportunity to show people what's possible'.

Former England defender Rio Ferdinand has announced he is re-training as a professional boxer.

The 38-year-old said he "always had a passion" for boxing and a new challenge was "the perfect opportunity to show people what's possible".

He revealed on Tuesday: "It's a challenge I'm not taking lightly. Clearly not everyone can become a professional boxer but with the team of experts... and the drive I have to succeed, anything is possible."

rio-ferdinand-swaps-football-boots-for-boxing-gloves photo 1 Video: Rio takes up boxing and challenges Joshua

Ferdinand has enlisted the help of Richie Woodhall, a former WBC super-middleweight champion who has worked with Britain's Olympic team, to make the transformation, with his journey set to be filmed for a documentary.

Woodhall said: "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."

rio-ferdinand-swaps-football-boots-for-boxing-gloves photo 2 Image: Ferdinand pictured playing for Manchester United in 2012

Ferdinand, who has lost his mum and wife to cancer in the last two years, was approached about making the switch by Betfair. The company is helping him qualify for his British Boxing Board of Control licence before he begins training and competing.

The pundit retired from football in 2015 after a season at Queen's Park Rangers, which followed a decorated career that included 12 years at Manchester United and 14 years with England.

Ferdinand is not the only sportsman to seek a surprising change in direction. Click on the cards below to reveal which figures switched from the sports that made them famous.

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Article Rio Ferdinand swaps football boots for boxing gloves compiled by news.sky.com