In 2002 Gervais took part in a charity boxing match against entrepreneur Grant Bovey - known largely by the public due to his relationship with TV personality Anthea Turner. On his Saturday afternoon Radio show on Xfm London, Gervais and partners Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington had discussions on both Ricky's attitude towards boxing and training in general, as well as his likelihood of victory against Bovey. Initially, writing partner Stephen Merchant had questions as to why Gervais was participating in the event, due to his dislike of slight pain and his inexperience with fitness in general.
According to Merchant, the majority of Gervais' effort was solely involved in his attire and moniker for the large event. Originally, Gervais jokingly told a BBC official that he would like to be named "Ricky the Gippo Gervais", in full knowledge of its position in the sphere of Political Correctness. He was only later, unsurprisingly denied the use of this name after further research. Other names supplied by Gervais were "Ricky Balboa Gervais", "Ricky Marciano Gervais" -- both being questioned by his trainer, who suggested "Ricky Martin". This name was also to be supplied to the backing track "California" by Snoop Dogg, but this was later changed to Mama Said Knock You Out by LL Cool J.
In the weeks before the event was scheduled to take place, both Merchant and Pilkington voiced their doubts as to his fitness due to illness which he had sustained weeks before the event, somewhat comedically by stating that both they, and Gervais' family had written up a petition to the BBC stating "please do not allow this man to box".
Gervais was trained for the three-round contest by famous boxing trainer brothers Frank and Eugene Maloney, at their Fight Factory gymnasium. It was the second televised charity boxing match, the first being Bob Mortimer against Les Dennis, for Comic Relief. The fight was televised by BBC, and Gervais managed to come out on top by a split decision verdict. Turner later claimed the only reason Gervais was awarded victory was because of his relationship with the BBC. Gervais later said that the experience was the 'most difficult thing' he had ever done. He donated his £5,000 prize money to the training of a Macmillan nurse.