Dubai: British boxer David Haye proved there is life beyond the boxing ring at the end of last year, charming the British public on the reality television show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here.
On the back of his third-place finish on the programme, which involves celebrities taking part in various trials such as eating bugs for a public vote, the 32-year-old launched a health and fitness DVD and has also reiterated his long-held ambition to become an actor.
But while he is revelling in proving he has the charisma to ensure he doesn’t have to rely solely on his fists for a living, the former world heavyweight and cruiserweight champion has one last goal to fulfil in the ring.
Haye, who was on holiday in Dubai over the festive period, revealed he is “obsessive” about fighting the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight champion, Vitali Klitschko, this year.
A victory over Klitschko would compensate somewhat for the second of Haye’s two career defeats, a points loss to Vitali’s brother, Wladimir, in July 2011.
The amiable Londoner said: “I achieved my goals, which were to become world champion. I’ve got enough money in the bank to be comfortable and I’ve still got my faculties intact. But there is that obsessive thing still there about facing Vitali in the ring. There’s a final chapter to be written. RTL [the terrestrial German broadcaster that screens Klitschko’s fights] want it. They’re trying to do all they can to secure that fight. It’s just down to Vitali. I haven’t heard from him for six months. Hopefully, I’m included in the Klitschko plans at some stage. Once I get a date, I’ll be back in the gym, cracking on with it.”
If the fight Haye craves does go ahead, he insists he is confident of knocking out the veteran Ukrainian.
He continued: “If he doesn’t want to do it [fight], then I’ll survive. But for boxing’s sake, I hope that he wants a good challenge. He’s very aggressive and I’m a great counter-puncher and I think I can knock him out. He’s getting to the age now, at 41, whereby he’s slowed down slightly. But if he doesn’t want to fight, I’m very happy with my resume as a professional heavyweight and cruiserweight.”
Haye, whose last fight was a fifth-round destruction last summer of fellow Briton Dereck Chisora, who was beaten only on points by Klitschko in February 2012, sent a personal message to the Ukrainian on RTL when it turned up at his gym two weeks ago. The TV company has signed a four-year deal with Klitschko and his brother Wladimir (the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, IBO and The Ring Heavyweight champion), and Haye says it is desperate for him to fight Vitali. “They are the Klitschko paymasters,” Haye said. “There’s nobody else in heavyweight division that can give RTL the viewing figures. Vitali’s never had that flagship fight, that one mega-fight that people will always remember him for. The only one people remember is the fight with Lennox Lewis, in which he came off second best. That was ten years ago. Klitschko was stopped after the sixth round with a huge gash over his left eye that required 60 stitches.”
Haye added that he was not interested in fighting anyone else, such as rising British stars Tyson Fury and David Price, viewing fights with them as “a step backwards”.
He is also adamant that, unlike fellow British boxing heroes such as Frank Bruno and Ricky Hatton, who suffered afflictions such as drug abuse and mental illness when they hung up their gloves, he won’t struggle to cope without the adrenaline rush and excitement of boxing when he eventually retires.
“I’ve got plenty of stuff to do, so I won’t get bored,” he said.
For instance, Haye has long harboured an desire to be an actor in action films, following in the footsteps of another British sportsman-turned-thespian, ex-footballer Vinnie Jones.
He said: “It’s [acting] definitely something I want to do once my professional boxer career comes to an end. I want to be the best professional actor I can be. Other sportsmen have done it. I’ve done little bits and pieces of preparation, but not taken any lessons yet, although I’ve got some lined up. I don’t want to mix the two and take acting lessons while I’m training for a fight. Once I’ve finished boxing, I will put my heart and soul into acting.”
In stark contrast to his normal regime of hard toil in the gym, Haye admitted he had enjoyed “spending a couple of weeks in Dubai, relaxing and taking it easy, catching up with friends and shopping in the malls”.
“I’d definitely pick Dubai over the UK at Christmas,” he said. “I was getting phone calls from people back in the UK telling me how miserable it is and how cold they were. I was here a couple of months ago, but prior to that hadn’t been here for ten years. I couldn’t believe it when I came back; there are a lot more buildings and it’s completely different and unrecognisable to the place I visited before.”
He continued: “I needed some downtime after being busy on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. I’m now going to be full on promoting my new DVD.”
With inputs from The Daily Telegraph