Andrew Flintoff and Sonny Bill Williams among sports stars to switch to the ring as Rio Ferdinand launches boxing career

Ferdinand is following in the footsteps of Flintoff and SBW among others, as the former United defender launches boxing career

James Piercy
by James Piercy
19th September 2017

article:19th September 2017

Via Rio Ferdinand's official Twitter handle
Via Rio Ferdinand's official Twitter handle

Rio Ferdinand took the sporting world by surprise on Tuesday by announcing his attempt at a professional boxing career. The former Manchester United and England defender has included boxing as part of his fitness regime for a few years, and is now set to go one step further.

Here’s a look at five other stars who made a switch to boxing after excelling in other sports.


ANTHONY MUNDINE

Given he is the son of a former boxer, Mundine’s move into the ring was largely unexpected. Having conquered the NRL, he stepped into the ring in 2000 and has amassed an impressive 47-8 record and held the WBA super middleweight title for five years between 2003 and 2008 as well as the IBO middleweight strap. His most famous victory was over former pound-for-pound king ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley in 2013.

Anthony Mundine defeated "Sugar" Shane Mosley in 2013.

Anthony Mundine defeated “Sugar” Shane Mosley in 2013.

SONNY BILL WILLIAMS

Rugby’s man of many talents made his pro debut in 2009, beating Garry Gurr via TKO. The two-time World Cup winner has gone to win a further six bouts at heavyweight, with two knockouts. Williams has claimed boxing has made him a “mentally tougher” sportsman as he’s managed to balance both his sporting loves.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 31: Sonny Bill Williams throws a left at Chauncy Welliver during their heavyweight bout during the Footy Show Fight Night at Allphones Arena on January 31, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Sonny Bill Williams balanced a rugby career and professional boxing for four years.

QUADE COOPER

Following in the bootsteps of Sonny Bill Williams, Cooper fought on the undercard of his friend in 2013 beating Barry Dunnett at cruiserweight via a first round knockout. The mercurial fly-half now boasts a 3-0 record having despatched Aussies Warren Tresidder and Jack McInnes, although has received criticism for the quality of his opponents who have either been no-hopers or washed-up veterans.

Quade Cooper also made the switch from rugby to boxing.

Quade Cooper also made the switch from rugby to boxing.

ANDREW FLINTOFF

The former England all-rounder enjoyed success in his one and only bout – beating American Richard Dawson after being knocked down in the second round – but it was branded it a “a circus” and “laughing stock”. Flintoff’s celebrity status ensured his fight received considerably more publicity than other, more seasoned, British fighters.

Flintoff is the most recent high-profile sportsperson to switch to boxing.

Flintoff is the most recent high-profile sportsperson to switch to boxing.

TONYA HARDING

With her figure skating career in tatters after the attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan in the lead up to the 1994 Winter Olympics, Harding took to the ring in 2002 in a celebrity boxing event before turning pro in 2003 on the undercard of a Mike Tyson fight. Harding lost a split decision against Samantha Browning but fought six more times in the space of just 16 months finishing with a 4-3-0 record as asthma forced her to retire.

Harding had a mildly successful boxing career.

Harding had a mildly successful boxing career.


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