LONDON – Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff has insisted his foray into the boxing ring is no novelty and he hopes to build a career in the sport.
The former England international cricketer plans to become a professional boxer, starting with a heavyweight contest in Manchester at the end of November, and has been training with former world champion Barry McGuigan ahead of his debut.
And he said that the bout was not a publicity stunt and he hoped to follow it up with further fights.
“I’ve always been a boxing fan, I think most blokes have,” Flintoff explained.
“I’ve been to fights. I remember watching Barry [McGuigan] and Tyson as I was growing up and then watching the Eubank fights and Benn and Ricky around Manchester.
“I’m under no illusions about the task I’m taking on. Each week it’s getting harder as the training steps up and the sparring partners get better – but I’m loving the challenge of it and I’m enjoying being a sportsman again.
“It’s not a novelty because of all the hard work and effort I’m putting into it, but it would be wrong to get ahead of myself.
“Firstly I’m looking at November 30, which is my first fight and is a massive night. It would be shame to do all this work and leave it there.”
Flintoff is already a world-famous sportsman, scoring 3,845 Test runs for England and taking 226 Test wickets during an illustrious cricket career.
And he hopes his experiences of playing in top-level competition will help him adapt to life in the ring, insisting that November 30 should be seen as a celebration of boxing.
“It’s going to be different,” Flintoff added.
“I’m surprised at how many people want to punch me. I’m getting offered out on Twitter left, right and centre!
“Hopefully some of the experiences I’ve had walking out to bat in front of thousands of people around the world is going to help, but I’m under no illusions. You’ve got someone in the other corner wanting to come out and take your head off, effectively!
“There’s a lot of people passionate about boxing, but I’m one of them. Hopefully we can reach to a wider audience and get the casual boxing fan coming in.
“This is about celebrating boxing and also, at the same time, giving me a chance to have a go at it under amazing tuition.” (Sky)