Rio Ferdinand has been refused a boxing licence which means he cannot make his debut in the ring.

The 39-year-old retired soccer star revealed in September last year that he was switching sports in a partnership with bookmaker Betfair but, less than seven months after he made his announcement, he's been forced to hang up his gloves and leave his dream for now after the British Boxing Board of Control refused his licence.

Taking to his Instagram account, Rio said: ''Having been training 4-5 times a week since announcing the aim of achieving a professional boxing licence and stepping into the ring, it is with a heavy heart that I am hanging up my gloves on @betfair #DefendertoContender challenge.

''Despite having never felt better physically or mentally, After notifying the British Boxing Board of Control of my intention to apply for a licence, I have received confirmation that they would not be reviewing my application at this point in time.

''To say I'm disappointed by this decision is an understatement. To not be given the chance to demonstrate my ability to the BBBoC through the standard assessment afforded to others is hard to take, not only for me, but also to @richie_woodhall, @meldeane12 and the countless others who have dedicated their time to my boxing development over the past five months. [sic]''

Ferdinand - who was a defender for Manchester United and West Ham an played 81 times for England - retired from soccer in 2015 and has since gone on to become a regular pundit on 'BT Sport'.

And then last year he raised eyebrows when he arranged a press conference to announce that he was going to go into boxing and would compete at cruiserweight or light heavyweight level to prove that anything is possible.

He said: ''Boxing is an amazing sport for the mind and the body.

''I have always had a passion for it and this challenge is the perfect opportunity to show people what's possible. It's a challenge I'm not taking lightly, clearly not everyone can become a professional boxer, but with the team of experts Betfair are putting together and the drive I have to succeed, anything is possible.''