Lions stepping into the ring

Three former British & Irish Lions will step into the boxing ring for the first time in Dubai in May to help raise money for the 'BackOnYourBike' charity. [more]

Lions stepping into the ring

Three former British & Irish Lions will step into the boxing ring for the first time in Dubai in May to help raise money for the ‘BackOnYourBike’ charity.

The 2005 tour team mates Gareth Thomas, Shane Byrne and Shane Williams will be joined by former Great Britain rugby league star Sean Long and ex-Welsh women’s international Non Evans in representing the northern hemisphere against a star studded southern hemisphere team.

Former New Zealand outside half Carlos Spencer is joined by current Samoa and Ospreys scrum half Kahn Fotuali’i, Samoan World Cup record holder Brain ‘The Chiropractor’ Lima and the Springbok trio of Chester Williams, Conrad Jantjes and Bolla Conradie. Huriana Manuel is the female representative from the south.

For Williams at kleast it is a return to his youth, when he was a gymnast and boxer as well as a rugby player at school. He admits to loving being back in the ring and has recruited the same coach who helped another former Lion, Colin Charivs, prepare for his recetn foray into the ring to fight Samoan legend Freddie Tuilagi in anotehr charity bout.

"I used to box at school and had two fights. I won them both and so I'm taking a 20+ year undefeated record with me into my next fight," said Williams.

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"I've really enjoyed the training, although getting used to being punched in the face and body again is not the easiest of things to get used to. Hopefully, I can let my footwork keep me out of trouble on fight night.

"This opporutnity came about because someone wrote that I had boxed before. So when the call came I could hardly back down – and it is for a very good cause.

"I think I'll be fit enough, I hope I'm strong enough and I'm just praying they don't put me in with my old Ospreys team mate Kahn Fotulai'i."

The black tie event will see the seven international rugby legends and four local rugby heroes climb through the ropes to slug it out in five men’s bouts and two women’s at the Fighting Chance event.

After 14 weeks of training the rugby personalities will enter the boxing ring for the first time in a battle for pride, honour and ultimately to determine which hemisphere is best.

BackOnYourBike is a fundraising effort for Richard Holland who was injured in a cycling accident in Dubai on 11 October 2012. Whilst training for an Ironman Race, avid cyclist and triathlete Rich was hit from behind by a car and sustained multiple life-threatening injuries, including a severe injury to his brain stem.

After three months, he is still unable to move his body and requires intensive medical supervision to care for him round the clock. BackOnYourBike was set up to help Rich’s family raise funds for his recovery, neuro-rehabilitation and funds to support him for the rest of his life.

Organiser John Mamea-Wilson first heard Rich’s story through social media after being made aware of it by mutual friends. He contacted Rich’s sister Pippa and met her at the hospital to discuss the boxing fundraising evening, of which the family were very receptive. John is hoping to raise AED500,000 from the Fighting Chance night.

Colin Charvis and Matt Perry, two more former Lions tourists, recently entered the ring in London to take part in another charity fight night. Charvis beat Samoan international Freddie Tuilagi in a heavyweight bout, while Perry was beaten by Martin Offiah.

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