Flintoff’s New Boxing Career Has Olympic Link
Freddie Flintoff is a the hugely popular former England cricketer who was forced to retire early with injury problems. He is now setting out on a career in professional boxing. The decision has caused a minor sensation – but a famous cricketer from an earlier generation was also a boxer – and Olympic champion.
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Freddie Flintoff is big and strong, a natural athlete. He had always been a professional sportsman until injuries forced him out of cricket in 2009. Since then he has discovered he can hardly bear life without some form of sporting action.
The move to professional boxing isn’t so strange. Flintoff has the superb reflexes of a top class cricketer and the physical co-ordination of a batsman who loved playing his shots. The qualities give him a foundation for a boxing career, his strong physique completes the picture.
But that is only the beginning. Flintoff’s boxing mentor, former world champion Barry McGuigan, says he has been delighted to find that Flintoff also has natural boxing talents. “He can land a great right hand for a start and his movement is good.” Flintoff also proved he could take a punch too when he was on the receiving end in some fierce sparring.
So the stage is set for Flintoff’s debut on November 30th, even though he hasn’t got the licence he needs yet. The British Boxing Board of Control have to be satisfied he has the ability to start a professional career but McGuigan does not see a problem.
The project is an intriguing one because all of boxing is crying out for a big personality to emerge and give the sport a higher profile. The Klitschko brothers have settled over professional boxing like a dark, grey cloud for too long. A bit of relief, sparkle and charisma is called for.
Not that Flintoff is anywhere near that level of course. Nobody knows how he will cope when he is finally inside the ropes. Former world champion Frank Bruno once mockingly told a beaten opponent after a rough, brutal fight, “This isn’t cricket old boy.” Freddy will find out for himself just how very different boxing is from the gentleman’s sport and a quiet afternoon at Lords.
If he needs inspiration he should look back to the 1908 Olympics in Britain. A leading England cricketer, Johnny Douglas was said to be the fittest player of his day and he entered the Olympics as a boxer. He finished up winning Gold in the middleweight division.
Flintoff, or Fred as he is known after The Flintstones TV cartoon, knows he has a lot of work to do. Early in his career he was known as the Fat Slogger because of his attacking batting style – and weight problems.
Now it will have to be lean, mean Freddie if he is to make the grade.