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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Rio Ferdinand set to embark on professional boxing career

Rio Ferdinand is looking to step into the ring.

Rio Ferdinand has announced that he plans to become a professional boxer, telling the Evening Standard that he is desperate to get back to competing.

The former Manchester United defender set up a "major news announcement" for Tuesday at which he confirmed he is taking up a new sport at the age of 38.

"I'm into keeping fit and one of the big things I have missed since retiring from football in 2015 is the competition, whether it be as a team or as an individual going one-on-one against a striker," Ferdinand said.

"I just miss that chemical that comes out of you. I have not been able to replace it. This is a great way to get that back. I'm doing this for many reasons. I'm doing this to test myself as a man, as a human being."

The Daily Mail reported the move would be for a "television project rather than as a serious sporting endeavour." Ferdinand will have to apply for a license to box professionally.

Now a football pundit for BT Sport and BBC, Ferdinand has often posted videos of his workouts on social media while also exchanging banter with boxers like Anthony Joshua.

In July, Ferdinand told Men's Health that staying in top shape allowed him to "free his mind" following his wife's death in 2015.

Ferdinand would not be the first English footballer to move to boxing, as former Sheffield United striker Curtis Woodhouse became British light-welterweight champion in 2014. Cricketer Andrew Flintoff won a one-off bout, of modest standard, against American Richard Dawson, having been mentored by Barry McGuigan.

Woodhouse believes that Ferdinand could be trying to rediscover his competitive edge if he takes to the ring.

"When it came up on my Twitter feed that Rio Ferdinand was going to become a professional boxer I thought I'd been hacked,'' he told BBC Radio 5 Live. "It's not something you read every day is it? I was shocked in that aspect.

"One thing that I missed -- I've been retired three years myself -- and one thing I missed and he's probably going through himself at the minute is the competitiveness of being an athlete. That nervousness, that tension.

"Once that's taken away from you it's very, very difficult to replace it, so that's probably what he's chasing to get that competitiveness back in his life.''

Woodhouse also believes it will take Ferdinand a lengthy period of time to get to grips with the technical aspects of boxing.

"The training and everything didn't take me by surprise but I found learning the technical side of the game really difficult,'' he added. "There's a lot of things going on in a boxing ring that you don't realise until you get in there. It takes a long, long time to feel comfortable in the boxing ring.

"Your ego will take a bit of a knock. He's going to have to get used to a few setbacks along the way. He'll definitely struggle with the technical side of the game.''

After playing for United from 2002-14, Ferdinand moved to Queens Park Rangers for one season before announcing his retirement in 2015.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.

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