Cricket legend Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff paid a visit to Monkstown Amateur Boxing Club this week where he was put through his paces in the ring by local heavyweight Steven Ward - a Commonwealth Games silver medallist.
Flintoff, under the watchful eye of boxing great Barry McGuigan, is undergoing a strict training regime in a bid to take part in a professional boxing fight which is to be screened on Sky. The former England all-rounder aims go toe-to-toe with a pro opponent in Manchester in front of thousands of fans.
The 34-year-old sporting icon trained at the Cashel Drive venue over two days last week, before travelling back to England. Paul Johnston, coach at Monkstown ABC, described Flintoff’s visit as a coup for the club.
“Sky are making a programme with Freddie and he has been training with Barry McGuigan and his son Shane. Barry works with Carl Frampton and with his fight at the Odyssey last Saturday, he (Barry) contacted me to ask if Steven would spar with Freddie for a few days.
“Steven has been preparing for championships in October with me and we were only too happy to have Freddie come up to Monkstown. He is shaping up well in his training.
“It’s a real coup for the club and he enjoyed it that much that he actually wants to come back over to us again. He thought our facilities were the best he’d trained in.”
Ward, who won silver in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, tweeted: “just done a few rounds with @flintoff11 .. he’s coming on well!! big man hits hard.”
Added Johnston: “Steven really enjoyed sparring with him and part of the bargain was that Andrew followed him on Twitter!
“We also had some of the younger members of the club there as well as participants of the BoxClever programme we run with Monkstown Community School. Both Barry and Freddie were impressed with the scheme.”
Flintoff’s four-month training programme will be documented in two hour-long episodes on Sky 1 HD ahead his big fight. The bout itself will be broadcast on BoxNation with a follow-up episode also scheduled.
Freddie Flintoff told Sky 1’s website: “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 be a professional sportsman again. It’s a huge challenge - probably the biggest I have ever undertaken, especially in such a short time-frame. I have a long road ahead and a lot of work in front of me. The stakes are high.”
Report by John Gillespie | Twitter: @Times_Sport