It’s the start of a new journey for Sandy Ryan this weekend as she makes her professional debut on the first Fight Camp show of the summer, but she is not quite finished with old adventure yet.
Ryan is in Essex ahead of her bout against Kirstie Bavington, but the 27-year-old from Derby would probably rather be in Tokyo right now. For years Ryan, who won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast in 2018, was seen as one of Great Britain’s leading Olympic medal hope. In the end she did not even get the chance to qualify. Her place at the European qualifiers went to Rosie Eccles and, after she failed to qualify, she hoped to get the GB place at the final world qualifier. That event was scrapped.
But Ryan is not the type to brood over bad luck for too long and has been providing what support she can to her former team-mates in Tokyo. They are doing well. Karriss Artingstall is already guaranteed at least a bronze medal, while Lauren price will do the same if she wins early on Saturday morning.
“I am up every morning watching them and I’ve been on the phone to Karriss and Lauren,” Ryan said. “I have travelled the world with them for many years, so I’m there with them at heart. I’ve been watching the ones live that I can and I watch back the others. Rest is important close to my fight and they understand that.
“Karriss is capable of going all the way, I’ve said it from the start. Years ago, I said she was going to go to the Olympics.
“Watching them is not bittersweet, but it is what it is. I am just happy to see my team-mates out there winning medals and performing. That is the sort of person I am.
“They are people I travelled the world with, who I lived with in Sheffield. It is an exciting week, isn’t it? I’ve got my pro debut and I am watching my ex-team-mates in the Olympic Games.”
For Ryan, she now has her sights set on success as a professional. Elite amateurs have traditionally found the step across easier in women’s boxing than me, largely because they have had the ability to be full-time boxers before they turned professional, and competition tends to be much stronger.
“When I knew there wasn’t going to be a second qualifier, I had to get my head around it. I was heartbroken, upset, but I switched my attention to the pros,” Ryan said. “If you believe you are going to get to the top and are a top athlete, there are going to be setbacks along the way, and you have to be able to deal with them. That was one of my setbacks and I overcome it and here we are.
“If you watch elite amateurs, they are much better than half of the pros. I’m not saying it, it’s true. If you watch the top pros, their boxing ability, their ring IQ, everything is better. There is so much talent and after these Olympics, a lot will turn over.
“I have been a full-time athlete for nearly nine years, so boxing is my life. I put everything into it and I am going to be very hard to beat. Boxing is my life.”
Even though she has yet to box professionally, Ryan has no problem putting pressure on herself with ambitions well beyond simply winning a world title.
“I want to be up there,” she said. “If people talk about women’s boxing and mention Katie Taylor, I want them to be mentioning my name too.”