Flintoff eyes pro boxing career

Nearly two years after retiring from cricket, former England captain Andrew Flintoff is set to return to professional sport in the boxing ring.

The 34-year-old Flintoff is planning to enter his new sport as a heavyweight and compete in his first fight in Manchester in November, with his preparations documented in a three-episode TV series called ”The Gloves Are Off.”

”It’s a huge challenge — probably the biggest I have ever undertaken, especially in such a short time-frame,” said the 1.93-meter Flintoff, who is yet to be granted a boxing license. ”I have a long road ahead and a lot of work in front of me. The stakes are high.”

Flintoff is being trained by Barry McGuigan, who became world featherweight champion in 1985, and the former Irish boxer’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 said.

His opponent hasn’t yet been identified but a bout has been penciled in for Nov. 30. Applying for a license from the British Boxing Board of Control usually takes up to six weeks.

A larger-than-life allrounder, Flintoff ended his 15-year cricket career in September 2010 during which he became England captain and a national icon after helping his country regain the Ashes from Australia in 2005. His heavy frame made him a dominant pace bowler and a powerful shot-maker, but led to several nagging knee injuries that eventually forced him to cut his career short after 79 tests and 141 one-day internationals.

He has since made appearances in television commentary booths and on panel shows.

Flintoff isn’t the first person to turn to boxing after a career in another sport.

Southern hemisphere rugby players Sonny Bill Williams, who won the World Cup with New Zealand last year, and Anthony Mundine, a former rugby league star in Australia, also took up boxing.