Betfair Backing Rio Ferdinand to Become a Boxing Champion

Former footballer Rio Ferdinand is bidding to become a professional boxer and British betting operator Betfair is backing the campaign.

Rio Ferdinand boxer.

Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand is fighting to become a boxer with the help of Betfair. (Image:

Despite being a rank novice with zero amateur bouts under his belt, 38-year-old Ferdinand knows what it takes to compete at the highest level in sport. On top this, he’s kept himself in good shape since retiring from football.

Ferdinand Doesn’t Want to be the Class Clown

However, to step in the ring as a pro and ultimately challenge for a title (something he wants to do), takes more than some cardiovascular strength and a bit of willpower. To help him try and at least be competitive, Ferdinand has partnered with Betfair.

Under the scheme “defender to contender,” Betfair has drafted in former WBC super-middleweight champion Richie Woodhall to train Ferdinand. Through a combination of technical work and professional sparring partners, the plan is to move Ferdinand through the ranks in 2018.

Commenting on the challenge to iFL TV, Ferdinand said that he sees it as a physical and mental test, but it’s something he’s keen to do as misses the competition he experienced as a pro footballer.

“I don’t look at this as a circus. I have the utmost respect for boxing and I’m not coming in here to disrespect anybody,” Ferdinand told iFL’s reporter following the announcement of defender to contender.

Another Sports Star Cross the Competitive Divide

If the ex-defender can successfully make it into the ring, he won’t be the first British sports star to make the switch. When his cricket career was over in 2010, Andrew Flintoff decided to test his mettle and step into the ring.

After doing the necessary training to obtain a British Boxing Board of Control (BBBOC) licence, Flintoff fought American Richard Dawson at heavyweight in 2012. Despite hitting the canvass in the second of four scheduled rounds, the cricket legend rebounded to win on points.

While many boxing purists branded the fight a disgrace, it brought some much-needed attention to boxing which has suffered a decline in popularity since the rise of mixed martial arts (MMA).

Whether Ferdinand’s professional debut will prove any better remains to be scene, but it’s clear the challenge will at least give Betfair plenty of marketing opportunities over the coming months.

Share Now: