Former WBA world heavyweight champion David Haye has become the first active boxer to enter the ITV1 reality series ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!,’ seen on ITV1 in the UK. ‘The Hayemaker’ touched down in the Australian jungle this past weekend after signing up for the challenge just months after vanquishing the threat of bitter rival Derek Chisora in the boxing ring. “I’ve been asked to do reality television shows many times in the past, but have always turned them down without a second thought,” said the 32-year-old. “This time round it was different, though. I had nothing planned for November and it all seemed to make sense. When I asked friends and family they all thought it would be interesting to see me taken out of my comfort zone and to see me squirm in the jungle for a few weeks. They didn’t think I would be able to hack life without the luxuries my sport has afforded me over the years. This presented a challenge, and it was one I decided to accept. I’ve always been somebody eager to test myself and prove people wrong, and I figure that if I stick it out in the jungle for the duration, many people will be surprised.”
It is this challenge element, as well as an empty calendar, that prompted Haye to agree to spending nearly a month in the jungle. Moreover, the format – and the idea of revealing the man behind the game face – also intrigued a boxer accustomed to triumphing in foreign territory.
“I’ve always been a very private person over the years and have never had any intention of letting my guard down, so this is the public’s first real opportunity to see the real me,” he admitted. “I can’t be certain how people will take to me, but this is the chance to find out. And, in that sense, it’s a really interesting experiment.
“I’ve spent most of my life competing in an individual sport, so, admittedly, have never been much of a team player. The whole idea of mucking in and working as a team is something new to me and it is something I will have to get to grips with. But rather than scare me, the idea excites me. I’m a very competitive person and I don’t like to lose, no matter what’s at stake.”
And while, ultimately, Haye’s legacy won’t be defined by his placing on a reality television show, he remains a natural competitor and is therefore gunning for the title of ‘King of the Jungle’.
“I can’t control whether people on the outside like me or not, or whether they choose to vote for me, but I can control how well I do in the challenges, and that is something I plan on doing,” he said. “I’ve tested myself for years in the ring, often against boxers bigger than myself, so very few tasks tend to scare me. I definitely won’t be side-stepping any Bushtucker Trials in the jungle, or fainting if chosen to do one. I’ll take each trial in my stride and do my very best.”