Former Manchester United and England player Rio Ferdinand. Photo: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
Former Manchester United and England player Rio Ferdinand. Photo: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
Ferdinand with Anthony Joshua, after the heavyweight's world title victory over Wladimir Klitschko. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Couldridge
Ferdinand with Anthony Joshua, after the heavyweight's world title victory over Wladimir Klitschko. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Couldridge

LONDON - Rio Ferdinand is expected to announce today that he intends to become a boxer and will be seeking a boxing licence. The former Manchester United and England defender is to make the surprise announcement at 8am, with a press conference to follow just after midday confirming his intentions.

Ferdinand is friends with world champion heavyweight and super-heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua, and close associates of the ex-footballer say he has been spending increasing amounts of time in the gym since the devastating death of his wife, Rebecca Ellison, two years ago.

Rio, 38, leans heavily on personal trainer Mel Deane to keep him in pristine shape since retiring from football, but won’t be the first ex-player to head into the ring.

Curtis Woodhouse, formerly of Sheffield United, also took up boxing after leaving football. Former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff also took the same path, even winning a professional fight against American boxer Richard Dawson in 2012.

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