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Lennox Lewis backs Frank Maloney's gender reassignment, although boxer admits he 'thought it was a wind up'

The former World Heavyweight Champion shows his support for his long-term manager

Lennox Lewis has backed Frank Maloney’s decision to undergo gender reassignment.

The boxing promoter announced yesterday (10 August) that she has been living as a woman called Kellie for a year.

“I was just as shocked as anyone at the news about my former promoter and my initial thought was that it was a wind up,” Lewis wrote on his Facebook page. "The great thing about life, and boxing, is that, day to day, you never know what to expect.

“This world we live in isn't always cut and dried or black and white, and coming from the boxing fraternity, I can only imagine what a difficult decision this must be for Kellie (formerly Frank Maloney).”

Maloney worked as Lewis’ manager between 1989 and 2001, helping him become Britain’s first World Heavyweight Champion in 1993 for nearly a century.

“However, having taken some time to read Kellie's statements, I understand better what she, and others in similar situations, are going through,” Lewis continued. “I think that ALL people should be allowed to live their lives in a way that brings them harmony and inner peace.”

“I respect Kellie's decision and say that if this is what brings about true happiness in her life, than so be it. #LiveAndLetLive”

Other boxers whom Maloney had worked with also showed their support, including Alex Arthur and Tony Jeffries.

Maloney has already secretly undergone hormone therapy, hair removal electrolysis, voice coaching and specialist counselling. She described “the feeling of wanting to be like and dress like a woman” as having “always been there”, but never felt comfortable to tell her boxing colleagues.

“I have never been able to tell anyone in boxing,” she said

“Can you imagine me walking into a boxing hall dressed as a woman and putting an event on?

“I can imagine what they would scream at me. But if I had been in the theatre or arts world nobody would blink an eye about this transition.”

The 61-year-old – who has been married twice and has three children – retired from boxing last year, telling a press conference that she had “fallen out of love” with the sport. She now says she withdrew from boxing because she wanted “to transition “in a positive and private way”.

“I was born in the wrong body and I have always known I was a woman,” she told The Mirror.

“I can’t keep living in the shadows; that is why I am doing what I am today. Living with the burden any longer would have killed me.”