THERE will be more than a few former opponents with wry smiles on their faces at the thought of Paul Hoffmann preparing to face a barrage of blows to the head.

The Aussie who would go on to enter Cricket Scotland’s Hall of Fame after seven stellar seasons with the Saltires was an intimidating fast bowler who was not afraid to send batters ducking for cover to try to evade his menacing short-pitched bouncers that would whizz past their ears at a startling velocity.

Hoffmann’s involvement in cricket these days stretches to his presidential duties at Uddingston CC and a new-found enthusiasm for umpiring, meaning batters across the country can sleep easier at night.

Instead, the 51 year-old has turned his attention to another childhood passion in boxing for his latest sporting adventure. Brought up by his father in Rockhampton, Queensland to appreciate the pugilistic greats, the East Kilbride secondary school teacher will step into the ring for the first time tonight in a white collar event at the Normandy Hotel in Renfrew.

Under the moniker of The Thunder from Down Under, he will do so for two reasons. One is to raise funds for Cancer Research UK in memory of two aunts back in Australia who sadly succumbed to the disease over the past decade.

The other is simply to scratch a 40-year itch and experience for himself just what his heroes put themselves through every time they pulled on the gloves.

“I’ve always been a huge boxing fan ever since I was a boy,” he reveals. “My dad was really into it and I went to boxing classes as a teenager for a couple of years.

“My sporting idol growing up was the former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes. I always tried to imitate him when my dad and I used to have sparring sessions in our living room back home.

“I realise I’m too old to take up boxing as an amateur but I decided to try white collar boxing which also allows me to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.

“It’s just a chance for me to get into the ring and take part in my favourite sport so it’s a tick box of something I’ve always wanted to do.

“Whether not I win will depend on who I’m matched with but I’m looking forward to it. Win or lose, I’m just grateful for the chance to have my first bout in a proper ring.

“I’ve been doing some light-contact sparring in training but on the night it will be pretty full-on I imagine.”

The plan for the moment is for this to be a one-off but will see how he fares on the night before deciding whether to head for immediate retirement.

“It’s three rounds which doesn’t seem too long but whenever I’ve been sparring it does seem to go on forever!” he admits.

“It will probably be a one-off although my wife pointed out that I’ve bought boxing shoes and trunks with my name on it so I should maybe stick with it and join a boxing club.

“I’ll maybe keep going along for the fitness but I’m not as keen about getting punched in the face every week.

“I’ve asked my wife not to come along on the night. I wouldn’t want her to get upset if I got knocked-out – or to get in the ring and start hand-bagging my opponent!”

Cricket remains his other sporting passion. He was naturally delighted to see Australia win the recent T20 World Cup and for his adopted country to make a positive impression with their early performances.

“Scotland did really well in the first round and took a big scalp in Bangladesh,” added Hoffmann who wore the blue and white in the 2007 50-over World Cup. “And in the game against Oman, there was a lot riding on that and they showed they could handle the pressure to reach the Super 12s.

“It was a tough schedule for them after that as just a couple of days later they had to fly to Dubai and get ready to face Afghanistan.

“So the team probably struggled a bit after the euphoria of qualifying. They didn’t have the time to regroup and mentally get ready for the next round of games.

“It’s always going to be difficult when you’re not playing regularly against the top nations but they’ve qualified for the T20 World Cup in Australia next year so that’s something to work towards.

“I was speaking to Dougie Lockhart of Cricket Scotland recently and he said they’ve got a number of tournaments arranged before then and are potentially looking to get a top-tier side over here for a game or two next summer.

“So it looks like they’re going to have quite a few games next year ahead of the World Cup and that’s the best preparation they can have.”

Paul’s Just Giving page for Cancer Research can be found at: