Rio Ferdinand is a Manchester United and soccer legend. He is the last great Red Devil’s captain to have won the UEFA Champions League (2008), an act he shared with his partner, Ryan Giggs. The six-time Premier League champion always proved to have the guts and skills to defeat any challenge coming his way.
But did you know he almost turned into a professional boxer?
Chasing the dream
That’s right, the defender who made Old Trafford shiver with his sublime performances announced on September 2017 that he would switch his soccer shoes for boxing gloves, due to an alliance with Betfair (a betting site).
Rio got help from World Boxing Council super middleweight champion Richie Woodhall and former boxer Duke McKenzie; Both took care of his technical skills, as well as his physical preparation.
Knockout out of the ring
Unfortunately for him, his pro boxing license was not approved. After hearing the news, Ferdinand stated:
“Having been training 4-5 times a week since announcing the aim of achieving a professional boxing license and stepping into the ring, it is with a heavy heart that I am hanging up my gloves on Betfair’s Defender to Contender challenge..”
“To say I’m disappointed by this decision is an understatement. Boxing is a physically tough, demanding and dangerous sport. I always gave it my utmost respect and never underestimated how difficult it would be. I wanted to show people that it’s OK to have a goal and strive to reach it. It’s important to approach everything with success in mind, and to give it all, but sometimes things work against you.”
Rio explained through his Facebook account. At 39 he was supposed to participate in Betfair’s Contender challenge.
Richie Woodhall also spoke after the rejection:
“From the beginning I knew it would be difficult. I told the Betfair guys that the biggest problem would be getting the license. When he started, he was already 38 years old and without any professional boxing experience.
I’m very disappointed. I think he would have been fine, he could have fought as a professional, I have no doubt.
I would have liked that someone from the body in charge of approving the licenses had gone to the gym to see him training, they would have been very surprised.
British Boxing Board of Control Secretary General Robert Smith replied that the body was not involved in the training of the former England team captain.
Smith stated: “We received the application and considered it. All requests are considered on their own merits. He was not rejected based on who he is.
There are many aspects that we take into consideration. He has never had a professional fight and although he has been training in the gym there is a big difference between that and fighting inside the ring. ”
A warrior inside and outside the ring
Rio Ferdinand continued training but now as a hobby. If we think on the main characteristics of the legendary Red Devil, we can realize the similarities he always had with boxers.
He was agile, had tremendous reflexes, monumental ability to adjust his game, he was a ferocious defender but an accurate offensive player when he needed to.
Rio Ferdinand, the legend, the warrior.
Article By Mario Badillo for the WBC / @ n7mariobadillo