Frank Maloney, the former boxing promoter who guided Lenox Lewis to the world heavyweight title, has revealed that he is living as a woman called Kellie, and is going to undergo a sex change.

"I was born in the wrong body and have always known I was a woman. I can't keep living in the shadows, that is why I am doing what I am today. Living with the burden any longer would have killed me," Maloney, 61, told the Sunday Mirror.

The promoter, who guided Lewis to the 1993 title, retired from boxing last year and has been working with the transgender organisation TG Pals.

Frank Maloney, who has announced he is now living as a woman named Kellie.
Frank Maloney, who has announced he is now living as a woman named Kellie.

The twice married father-of-three said that he had been living as a woman for a year, and had begun hormone therapy ahead of the operation.

She said that she had not told anyone in the sport of her intentions, and it would have been impossible to have worked in the macho world of boxing as a woman.

"I made the decision a long time ago but I retired from boxing because of my profile. I thought that what I wanted to do was to transition in a positive and private way. I closed my websites down, took my Facebook down and my Twitter account so that I could transition peacefully. The suicide rates from the pressure on a transsexual woman are very high and I didn't want to get caught up in it.

"I hope society will be open minded. I know I could have done my job in boxing as a female."

Kelly's friends and former colleagues expressed their surprise and support on Twitter.

As well as a career in boxing, Maloney has run as a Ukip candidate, first for Barking in the 2010 general election, and in the London mayoral election in 2004.