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All Blacks great Keven Mealamu set to embark on new sporting career

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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All Blacks legend Keven Mealamu is reportedly set for a shock switch of sports, seven years after his retirement as a professional rugby player.

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After 132 tests in an international career spanning 2002 to 2015, during which time he won two World Cups, Mealamu is eyeing a move into professional boxing.

Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, Mealamu revealed his intention to pursue a career in the ring, which will begin when he takes on former NRL star Wairangi Koopu in July’s celebrity Fight for Life event.

“I’d love the opportunity to go further and do the sport really well – I’m willing to put in the time and work to make sure I learn my craft,” the 43-year-old, who is a Blues veteran of more than 160 matches, said.

“I would be very excited at that opportunity, but coming from a sporting background, I realise I’ve got to take care of what is in front of me first, which is Fight for Life.

“I don’t want to jump too far ahead and make predictions before I’ve even jumped in the ring.”

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Facing Goliath | Italy vs All Blacks | RugbyPass Original

Since his retirement from rugby, Mealamu has embarked on business ventures – he owns a gym in South Auckland – and has moved into local body politics, having been elected onto the Papakura Local Board in 2019.

He also holds a role as a director of Auckland Rugby, but told the Herald that he is eager to undertake the challenges that come with being a professional sportsman, something he hasn’t faced since his rugby retirement in 2015.

“What excites me about boxing is the challenge of getting myself ready for the unknown,” Mealamu said.

“As a professional rugby player, there is a challenge every week and you get yourself up for that.

“It probably looks a bit different when you retire and I think’s that’s the exciting bit of having this boxing challenge. The goal is really clear, you can see what you are working towards, and if you put the work in you will be ready.”

Backed by trainer and former NRL star Monty Betham, as well as promoter Dean Lonergan, Mealamu isn’t the only former All Black to move into the boxing ring in recent times.

Last month, it was confirmed that Sonny Bill Williams, Mealamu’s former All Blacks teammate, would return to the ring to take on ex-AFL star Barry Hall in a fight scheduled to take place in Sydney next month.

Since that announcement, Williams has relocated to the United Kingdom to train alongside world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and fellow Kiwi fighters Jospeh Parker and David Nyika.

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