RALPH Rimmer has always relished a challenge.

Whether at work or at play the 38-year-old McAlpine Stadium supremo has never given anything less than 100%.

Yet next month he faces arguably his toughest challenge yet.

And it's away from the cut and thrust of his busy working life as managing director of Kirklees Stadium Development, chief executive of the Huddersfield Giants and a director of Huddersfield Town.

Mr Rimmer is to step into the ring for a full-contact kick-boxing bout!

He is to go head-to-head for three two-minute rounds.

At 6ft 4in tall and 18-stone he is a man not to be messed with - but he admits the bout on May 22 in Buxton could be the toughest challenge of his life.

"I've faced a fair amount of challenges over the years, some good and some bad," said the father-of-two.

"But the more I think about it, the more this latest one sends an extra shiver down my spine.

"There's no way I'm going to back out of it now, I've put in too much work for that.

"But I know that of all the challenges I've undertaken this could prove my toughest."

There can be no disputing that Mr Rimmer has faced some demanding assignments over the years.

As a youngster, he was a talented amateur rugby league second-row forward.

He was an England Student international and played the occasional game for Barrow's second team when they were in the old First Division. Knee injuries forced an early retirement for the game.

But he soon realised he missed the discipline and demands of playing sport, and was determined to do something about it.

"It wasn't long before I was desperate to test myself out again," he added.

"That culminated in my appearance in the Manchester Marathon in October, 1998, when I completed the course in four hours, six minutes," he said.

"That challenge had been successfully completed, and it was time to move on to something else.

"It was then I decided to take up martial arts.

"Under the tuition of Tony Sykes at the Black Belt Academy in Linthwaite, I've now made it as a black belt in karate after four-and-a-half years."

So, what next?

"It had to be a full-contact bout, and that's now what I'm working towards," he said.

Tony Sykes believes his man will give an excellent account of himself in the ring.

Mr Sykes is a very experienced martial arts coach, having spent 25 years as a fighter and 15 as a coach.

He said: "It's going to be tough whoever he fights. He'll probably be up against someone who is in their mid-20s and would like a career out of it.

"I'm confident Ralph will do very well," said the former world karate silver medalist. "He's very fit and dedicated.

"I'm happy to back my man. If I wasn't, I wouldn't let him do it."