Ex-Sunderland football favourite Julio Arca is set to switch sports later this year when he takes part in a charity boxing match.
The well-liked former midfielder – who now plays in Northern League Division Two, for South Shields – will pull on the boxing gloves at an event at the Rainton Meadows Arena, in Houghton-le-Spring, on Saturday, May 7.
He will compete for three rounds against Mark Solan in aid of the The Solan Connor Fawcett Family Cancer Trust, while the boxing show itself will raise funds for a host of other good causes.
The bout between Arca and Solan will top the bill in an event put together by promoter Daryll Hall, who is also a team-mate of Arca’s at South Shields. Hall will also train Arca.
Argentinean Arca, 35 – who also played for Middlesbrough in his professional football days – is hoping his presence will help to raise vital funds.
He said: “Daryll approached me and asked if I would be interested in doing a boxing charity event.
“At first, I was unsure, but he offered me the chance to train with him, and the guy I’m going to fight is someone that I know.
“We’re going to fight and we want to put on a good show, although we won’t be going crazy.
“Hopefully, myself being there will attract more people to come to the show and they’ll want to see a former Premier League footballer giving it a go in the ring.
“The main thing is that we raise plenty of money for these good causes.”
I’ve probably had one fight in my life! It’s exciting for me, and I’m looking forward to the trainingJulio Arca
Among the other good causes which will benefit from the night are St Teresa’s Hospice, in Darlington, and St Cuthbert’s Hospice, in Durham.
Arca is nervous yet excited ahead of his first foray into the ring. He will train at Eclipse Fitness & Personal Training, in Sedgefield, and Roker Rough House Gym, in Sunderland.
He added: “I’ve probably had one fight in my life! I’ve always liked boxing as a sport, though, and I’ve become more interested in it over the last few years.
“It’s exciting for me, and I’m looking forward to the training.
“I’m sure it will be tough, and I’ll probably be a bit nervous when I get in the ring, but it will be good.
“We’re doing it for a good cause, and I’ll just do my best.
“It will be good for my fitness, as well. I won’t be training as hard as professional boxers, but I’ll need to prepare right and I will put a lot of work in.
“I need to learn the basics before jumping in the ring.”
The Arca bout will be one of 12 on the bill, and it is hoped that thousands of pounds will be raised.
Hall said: “I’ve done events like this before and raised about £6,000, but I’m hoping we’ll smash that this time.
“With Julio, it started as a joke. He came up to me in a football training session and said he wanted to do a bit of boxing.
“He just wanted to do a bit of boxing training for his fitness.
“I offered to train him, and then I got thinking that it would be good to include him on a show like this.
“To get Julio on the show is massive for the charities, and we can’t thank him enough for agreeing to take part.”
Tickets for the event – doors will open at 6.30pm – are set to go on sale in the coming weeks, priced at £30 for seats on a table of 10 with waiter service, and £25 for standard standing tickets.
For more information, including on tickets, visit ‘Daryll Hall Promotions’ on Facebook at www.facebook.com/boxingnights
Donations can also be made at crowdfunding.justgiving.com/Team-Solan-1