IS RIO PUNCHING ABOVE HIS WEIGHT?

By Scott Lewis, Stirling University Student

Rio Ferdinand, regarded as one of England’s greatest ever centre-backs, has won every medal that there is to win at club level.

He made up half of one of the most renowned defensive partnerships to grace the pitch, which was the spine of the great Manchester United team that dominated English football under Sir Alex Ferguson.

A football legend, he’s now experiencing life after football and trying to build as high a reputation as he can for Brand Ferdinand.

Pundit for BT Sport and owner of several business ventures, he’s now embarking on another professional sports adventure; attempting to become a professional boxer.

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It has been publicly documented how much Rio has struggled with not only life after football, but in having to adjust following the tragic death of his wife Rebecca, who lost her fight with cancer at such a young age.

After being approached by Bookmaker Betfair to take on the challenge of becoming a boxer Ferdinand jumped at the opportunity; a new focus, mental and physical fitness and exposure.

Athletes have swapped sports in the past, some for the prestige of becoming a champion in another discipline, others purely for exposure and money.  

New Zealand All Black Sonny Bill Williams swapped the oval ball for the boxing ring before switching back. After becoming a hugely successful rugby player he spent four years boxing professionally, winning all six of his heavyweight bouts before suspending his boxing career to re-focus on rugby.

Conor McGregor, the two-weight world champion of the UFC, recently fought Floyd Mayweather in the biggest pay per view fight in history. This was branded as a farce and many refused to regard it as a proper boxing match, instead, it was viewed as nothing more than a money-making scheme. The event itself unfolded into a competitive bout, with both men walking away with millions.

Whatever the motivation, in most cases a switch in sport guarantees a new-found interest in the athlete, combined with a competitive fix often long forgotten from their professional careers.

And those of us who watch - whether it’s supporting a former idol, or hoping to see them being humiliated in front of millions, respect has to be given to them for their strength and bravery taking on such a task.