Rio Ferdinand swaps boots for boxing gloves

Knockout: After retiring from football, Ferdinand “missed the mental and physical warfare”.

Should we all have more than one big goal in life? Rio Ferdinand aims to win a professional boxing title within 12 months. But some think he has made a “dangerous” decision.

Rio Ferdinand’s reputation was built on crunching tackles and towering headers, not left hooks and uppercuts. However, he’ll soon be learning a whole new defensive technique, after announcing this week that he is to become a professional boxer.

Ferdinand has never boxed before, although he says his chin was “tested by a few size ten football boots”.

Ferdinand is a complete novice at boxing. But his coach, Richie Woodhall, thinks that the former footballer has “natural power” and the “potential” to be a champion. And Rio is boxing to win; he says he is ”aiming for a belt.“

Others are not so sure. Barry Hearn, a boxing promoter, warned that he “could get himself badly hurt”. And footballer turned boxer Curtis Woodhouse even suggested the move could be fatal: “You can die ‘playing’ boxing,” he tweeted.

Ferdinand is not the first retired sportsman to step into the ring. Former England cricket captain Andrew Flintoff won on his professional boxing debut in 2012. Despite leading England to two Ashes wins over Australia, he described his single victorious fight as his “best personal achievement”.

Even more remarkable is the journey of Sarah Storey. She won five gold paralympic medals in swimming, but was forced to quit the sport due to severe ear infections. She then took up cycling and won another nine gold medals, making her the most successful British female paralympian ever. Across cycling and swimming she holds 75 world records.

And it is not just sportspeople who master many trades. Arnold Schwarzenegger combined a bricklaying company, mail-order business, and property investing to become a millionaire at the age of 22 — before accepting his first acting job. Not happy with just being a movie star, he became governor of California in 2003.

We cannot all be elite athletes or Hollywood stars, but some suggest that this multi-career life is becoming more common. A 2016 study found that 38% of American millennials have more than one job. And entrepreneur Greg Waldorf argues that the “gig economy” will lead to people “working multiple jobs at the same time”.

Is it better to have one career ambition, or many?

Jack of all trades

“Pick something and master it,” say some. It is better to be brilliant at one thing than average at many. And the only way to achieve this brilliance is through total dedication. By just committing to one goal, you can achieve something extraordinary.

“We must harness all of our talents,” argue others. From a young age we are taught that we must choose to “be” one thing. But these exceptional people prove that it does not have to be this way. By experiencing new things, you can discover whole regions of yourself you never knew existed.

You Decide

  1. What do you want to be when you grow up?
  2. Is there a perfect job for everyone?


  1. List the five jobs you would most like to do. Compare them with the choices of people sat near you. Are your lists similar or different?
  2. Do some research and find a non-sporting person who succeeded in more than one career. What qualities do you think allowed this person to succeed in multiple fields?

Some People Say...

“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.”

Seth Godin

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
That Ferdinand intends to apply for a professional boxing license which will allow him to compete for British titles. His coach has trained several British Olympic boxers in the past. At Ferdinand’s current weight he will compete in the cruiserweight category. This is intermediate between middleweight and heavyweight, and is also known as light heavyweight.
What do we not know?
Whether the British Boxing Board of Control will grant Ferdinand a license. All boxers granted a license must be capable of boxing to a required standard. If Ferdinand is granted a license we do not know when a fight will be scheduled and who his opponent will be.

Word Watch

Rio Ferdinand
Ferdinand won 81 caps for England and played for West Ham United, Bournemouth, Leeds United, Manchester United, and Queens Park Rangers. He became the most expensive British footballer in 2002 after his £30m transfer to Manchester United.
In boxing the winner of a championship receives a belt. Currently there are four belts which a boxer must win to become the undisputed champion of the world.
Curtis Woodhouse
Played professional football for several British clubs before taking up boxing in 2006.
Series of five cricket “test matches” played between England and Australia since 1882. The term Ashes refers to the unofficial trophy and originated when The Sporting Times in 1882 referred to “the body of English cricket” being cremated after Australia’s first ever test match victory in England.
The Paralympic Games sporting event, held for disabled athletes every four years, in partnership with the Olympic Games.
Study completed by Adobe, an American computer software company. It surveyed over 2,000 people from America, Great Britain, and India.


PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.