By Hannah Raven, courtesy of The Daily Star
British promotional legend Frank Maloney will undergo a sex change to become a woman, he has sensationally revealed.
The 61-year-old father-of-three, who led Lennox Lewis to become world heavyweight champion, has been living as a woman called "Kellie" in preparation for the operation.
The twice-married Londoner says he has always known he was a woman and recalls being jealous of girls in the school playground.
"I was born in the wrong body and I have always known I was a woman," says Kellie. "I can't keep living in the shadows."
Frank became a household name after Lewis's 1992 victory - the first Brit to take the title in almost 20 years.
But away from the ring, Maloney was desperately trying to manage his own internal fight.
He took the brave decision to tell the world his secret because he says living with the burden any longer would have killed him.
To have the operation on the NHS, patients must live as the opposite sex for a minimum of two years.
Kellie is more than a year into the transition period, during which she has undergone laser hair removal, speech and hormone therapy, and special counselling.
"The feeling of wanting to be like and dress like a woman has always been there," she revealed.
She says it was a constant urge not to tell anyone in the boxing world.
"Can you imagine me walking into a boxing hall dressed as a woman and putting an event on?" she said. "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."
Celebrities, including football presenter Stan Collymore, have spoken out on social media this morning in support of the decision.
"I wish Frank Maloney, now Kellie all the very best. Being who he wants to be after 61 years. Nobody deserves to begrudge him happiness," tweeted Collymore.
Maloney quit boxing in October last year, claiming to have 'fallen out of love' with the sport.
But now he admits he had to get away from the sporting world and face his inner demons.
For a year prior to quitting, Maloney lived as a recluse, battling the overwhelming desire to become a woman.
Depressed, he would call helplines in America for counselling, and was drinking heavily.
"My life was spiralling out of control," said Kellie.
After retirement Maloney disappeared - his Facebook, Twitter and website pages were taken down to allow him to transition in private.
"The suicide rates from the pressure on a transexual woman are very high and I didn't want to get caught up in it," she explained.
"The boxing world can think whatever they want about me now."
Kellie hopes people will accept her decision and be open minded.
She says she is not looking for a sexual partner and expects to live the rest of her life single.
"I don't understand it. Therefore I can't expect anyone else to understand it," she said.
Maloney broke the news to his wife in 2012 and she kept it a secret ever since.
"She swore she would never tell anyone and to this day she hasn't," said Kellie.
"We are very good friends now. She is very supportive and loyal to me. She was very upset and sad but we knew there was no going back."
Kellie hopes she can now help others going through the same battle.
Tags: British Boxing