Former All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams has called time on his rugby career in order to focus on becoming a champion boxer.
Williams, who won two rugby union World Cups for New Zealand in 2011 and 2015, has dabbled in boxing since a first professional bout in 2009 but he plans to get more serious about it after building a gym in southern Sydney.
The 35-year-old played his last game of rugby league with the Sydney Roosters in October in the semi-final loss to the Canberra Raiders in the 2020 NRL playoffs.
He was contracted to play in the 2021 season with Toronto Wolfpack, but the deal fell through after the Canadian team was denied readmission to the mainly England-based Super League.
Australian media have reported Williams will remain in a mentoring role at the Roosters but he says his playing days are over.
The new journey begins ❤️✊🏽🥊 pic.twitter.com/fo63TlIWd5
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) March 4, 2021
‘I spoke to my manager, I said: “I’m keen to get back into the ring, I’ve got a couple of years, I’m 35”,’ Williams told the Nine Network.
‘I spoke to the wife first and she had blank eyes but, like usual, she supported me. I want to know how I will go in six months instead of six weeks.’
The last of Williams’s seven professional fights was a convincing points-decision win against American journeyman Chauncy Welliver in 2015.