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Rio Ferdinand turns pro-boxer: Michael Jordan, Andrew Flintoff and others who dabbled in different sports


Former England football captain Rio Ferdinand confirmed Tuesday he will train to become a professional boxer with the ultimate aim of challenging for a title belt.

The 38-year-old former Manchester United star, who retired from football in May 2015, is taking part in online betting firm Betfair's "Defender to Contender" project and will be training with former WBC super-middleweight champion Richie Woodhall.

Ferdinand is not the first sportsperson to take up a different sport. Earlier in 2017, Italian legend Paolo Maldini had received a wildcard to play in the doubles event at the Aspria Tennis Cup in Milan. However, Maldini and his coach and partner Stefano Landonio lost the match 6-1, 6-1 in 42 minutes.

By taking up professional boxing, Ferdinand joins an illustrious list of athletes who have dabbled in different sports with varied success.

1. Michael Jordan 

 Rio Ferdinand turns pro-boxer: Michael Jordan, Andrew Flintoff and others who dabbled in different sports

File Image of Michael Jordan. Reuters

MJ, widely considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time, is also one of the most decorated players in NBA history. However, after the first of his three retirements from the sport, Jordan tried his hand at professional baseball. Rattled by a personal loss, Jordan sent shockwaves all over the world by retiring from professional basketball and chose to sign a minor league baseball contract with Chicago Red Sox in 1994. His baseball sojourn wasn't as celebrated as his basketball career and he quit baseball in 1995 following the Major league baseball strike and returned to basketball for his second stint with the Chicago Bulls.

2. Babe Didrikson Zaharias

The American athlete active from 1931 till her death in 1956 achieved a great deal of success in track and field events, basketball and golf. Babe Didrikson Zaharias won two gold medals in track and field at the 1932 Summer Olympics. She later turned her attention to golf becoming the first woman to compete against men in a PGA tournament. Didrikson was one of the greatest women golfers of that era becoming the fastest golfer to win 10 LPGA tournaments, a record that still stands tall.

3. Andrew Flintoff

England's Andrew Flintoff leaves the field after being caught for 22 during the fifth Ashes cricket test match against Australia at the Oval in London August 22, 2009. REUTERS/Philip Brown (BRITAIN SPORT CRICKET) - RTR27029

File image of England's Andrew Flintoff.  REUTERS

Flintoff, one of the most celebrated and controversial England cricketers, was considered to be the greatest English all-rounder since Sir Ian Botham. His career was plagued with injuries and in 2010, he retired from international cricket. After retirement, Flintoff decided to try his hand at professional boxing in 2012. Though he won his first and only boxing match, he decided to quit professional boxing after receiving harsh criticism over the bout from critics and fans alike.

4. Fred Perry

The British tennis legend, the first person to win the career Grand Slam, ended his tally at eight Grand Slam titles and was the last British player to win a Grand Slam till Andy Murray won the 2012 US Open. The winner of three consecutive Wimbledon titles, he was also the only British player to have won Wimbledon till Murray joined that list 77 years later in 2013. Apart from having a stellar record in tennis, Fred Perry was also an accomplished table tennis player.

Perry won the 1929 Budapest Table Tennis World Championships in addition to the silver and bronze medals he won in the same tournament and in the 1928 World Championships in the doubles and team events.

5. Ellyse Perry

Cricket - England v Australia - Women's Ashes Series 2015 - Third NatWest T20 International - SSE SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff, Wales - 31/8/15 Australia's Ellyse Perry Reuters / Philip Brown Livepic - RTX1QEK9

File image of Australia's Ellyse Perry. REUTERS

The Australian sportstar, part of the present squad in the Women's World Cup, made her debut for both the Australian national cricket and football team at the age of 16. Perry became the first Australian athlete to represent the country in both the cricket and football world cups. She has always been at the centre of a tussle between her football and cricket commitments with many instances where she had to choose between the two out of scheduling conflicts.

With inputs from AFP.

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Updated Date: Sep 19, 2017 16:10:01 IST