London: Having knocked down many an off stump during his time as England cricket captain, Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff hopes to do the same to opponents when he takes to the boxing ring later this year.
Flintoff’s preparations for his debut fight, scheduled for November 30 at the Manchester Arena, are to be televised in a documentary The Gloves Are Off.
The 1.93-metre sportsman, who would box as a heavyweight, has yet to apply to the British Boxing Board of Control for a licence, but is being trained by former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan and the Irishman’s son Shane.
“This is an amazing opportunity to try a sport that I love, to be tutored by a man I respect and admire and, at the age of 34, the chance to become a professional sportsman again,” Flintoff was quoted as saying by British media.
“It’s a huge challenge — probably the biggest I have ever undertaken, especially in such a short time frame.
“I have a long road ahead and a lot of work in front of me. The stakes are high.”
Flintoff, who until last year had homes in Dubai, played in 79 tests for England as an all-rounder before retiring from cricket in 2010 because of injury.
He transcended sporting fame to become a national treasure by leading England to a famous Ashes victory in 2005 — their first test series win over Australia in almost two decades.
He has made numerous media appearances since on sports panel shows and was a guest commentator during some matches of the 2011 Darts world championship in England.
Robert Smith, the general secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, said obtaining a licence was not a foregone conclusion.
“An application can take three to four weeks or longer depending on the circumstances. He will have to pass medicals and there are measures in place to see whether an applicant can actually box.”
Should Flintoff’s boxing career take off, a fight against another multi-sport titan could be in the offing — All Black World Cup winning rugby player Sonny Bill Williams is the reigning New Zealand heavyweight champion.
Former Sheffield United footballer Curtis Woodhouse made his boxing debut in 2002 and has won 16 of his 20 contests.