Betfair Offers New Take on Sponsorship Deals with Rio Ferdinand Boxing Challenge

Online poker and betting site Betfair has entered the world of sports star endorsements with a bang thanks a new deal with former soccer star Rio Ferdinand.

Rio Ferdinand

Former England soccer star Rio Ferdinand is training to become a professional boxer as part of the new deal with Betfair. (Image:Илья Хохлов)

Following the recent trend of recruiting celebs and professional athletes to promote the virtues of online betting, Betfair is now working with ex-Manchester United and England defender Ferdinand.

Much like PokerStars and partypoker have done in recent years, Betfair will be using Ferdinand’s profile in Europe to bolster its brand image and, moreover, emphasis the competitive aspect of poker and betting.

A Different Deal for Ferdinand

What’s different about Betfair’s deal with Ferdinand, however, is that it has a slightly harder hitting angle those used by other sites. Following the same “challenge” format used to turn former Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton into a professional jockey, Betfair is aiming to transform Ferdinand into a boxer.

Despite having no amateur bouts to his name, the soccer player will train with former champion Richie Woodhall under the banner “defender to contender.” Boxing is currently going through a mini-revival thanks to the recent Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather and Gennady Golovkin vs. Canelo Alvarez fights.

Tapping into this surge of interest in the noble art, Betfair will provide all the support Ferdinand needs to step in the ring as a professional and, potentially, challenge for a title.

It’s the Age of Sports Star Sponsorships

Although it’s a longshot, Betfair’s move is not only in line current zeitgeist but something that’s becoming the standard MO of online operators.

At present, PokerStars is working with Jamaican sprinter and the fastest man to ever live, Usain Bolt while partypoker has former super-middleweight boxing champion Carl Froch as an ambassador.

The desire to attract casual fans and exploit new social media networks is behind this recent wave of endorsements and Betfair’s initiative certainly puts a different spin on the concept.

But as much as this is a PR exercise for the betting operators, it will also be a personal journey for Ferdinand. Boxing is a dangerous occupation and in a press conference held by Betfair, the sportsman admitted he faces a tough challenge.

However, also insisted that he wasn’t doing this out of disrespect for boxing, but as a way to satisfy the competitive urges he no longer has an outlet for since he retired from professional soccer. Love it or hate it, the news has caught the attention of sports fans, but whether it proves to be a knockout move or a fatal blow for both parties remains to be seen.

Written by
Daniel Smyth
Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.


Salavat Kozhakhmetov wrote...

A good deal spent Betfair,with regards to this article thanks to the author it was very interesting to read as I love this sport,as for Rio Ferdinand nobody knows what pushed him to become a boxer,the death of his Wife,Mother,nobody knows,but certainly not the money that drives them,as it is in football earned a lot of money,most are now young boxers go first to capitalize on this sport,not otherwise,as for his future in Boxing I’m not sure that he would become a world champion in Boxing according to the basic version(WBA,WBC,IBF,WBO)so much competition and yet a Rio weight around 192 lbs,those weights the guys are very serious and will get injured most likely,Yes, Rio is very developed physically for football helped him and he has laid the base this but this may not be enough,considering that the guys there have dedicated their lives to Boxing,a boxer in a year or two will not,and I hope that Rio will hold a couple of fights and no more will not be affected,because professional Boxing is very dangerous,just wish Rio good luck in his endeavors and I hope everything will end well!

Catalonian wrote...

good idea ) i think

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