Flintoff reveals how he was nearly floored by an eating disorder
Andrew Flintoff was bullied at school and developed an eating disorder as he battled weight issues during his Test cricket career. These were the shock themes to emerge from a documentary to be broadcast in the run-up to his professional boxing debut at the end of the month.
At a private screening in London yesterday of From Lord's to the Ring the first episode of which is to be shown on Sky1 next week, Flintoff reveals a vulnerable side that is in part driving the compulsion to box professionally.
Flintoff takes on a novice American heavyweight in a four-round contest in Manchester on 30 November. Under the guidance of Barry McGuigan and his son, Shane, a professional trainer and fitness coach, Flintoff has shed more than 11 kilos (24lb) by conventional means. However, the 34-year-old confessed to self-induced vomiting to keep his weight down as a cricketer.
"I would stick my fingers down my throat to make myself sick," Flintoff said. "Even after I had gone to good restaurants I would do it. I ended up losing about 15kg [33lb]. It became a very difficult habit to shake myself out of."
Flintoff also spoke about his school days in Preston, where he was a victim of persistent bullying, and how his immersion in boxing has helped him process the anger and resentment related to that experience. "I had a very rough time at school. I wanted to play cricket and I frequently got knocked around because of it. I really wanted to retaliate but for some reason I couldn't make myself. So now I want to put that side of my life to bed a little bit.
"I have no qualms about talking about it. It happened a while ago now. I suppose if anyone is feeling like that it is all right to talk about it. Maybe me speaking about it helps people who have been through it to feel that it's OK to speak about it, too."
Flintoff's flirtation with boxing has attracted a mixed response. "Car crash TV" was the description used by promoter Frank Warren. The other boxing promoter, Frank Maloney, was even more scathing, claiming Flintoff is turning boxing into a joke.
To balance the argument there is an authenticity about Flintoff's approach and attitude that is best exemplified by the evolving contours of his nose, which has been significantly disfigured.
He has sympathy with his detractors but believes his association with the sport is positive. "I can understand people wanting to defend their sport. I would feel the same about cricket," Flintoff said.
"Our intention is not to cheapen the sport, but to show it for what it is, how hard it is and to celebrate it. Ultimately I'm a boxing fan."
Latest in Sport
Michael Schumacher: Ferrari president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo admits he is still in shock over accident
Jose Mourinho claims Cristiano Ronaldo and his Real Madrid team-mates spend too much time looking in the mirror
Is this the cutest pitch invasion ever? Brazil squad embrace young South African fan in heartwarming scenes after friendly match
QPR financial results: Rangers face £50m fine in top flight of debtors
World Cup 2014: Sam Wallace picks his England squad - is there a place for Andy Carroll, and who wins the battle between Luke Shaw and Ashley Cole?
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Channel 4 announces two-hour TV show to be broadcast 'Live from Space' later this month
- 4 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition
- 5 Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...
£40k to £50k pa OTE £80k: Charter Selection: My client, a leading profitable a...
£46,141 to £51,816: Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland: The PPS i...