AFTER nine years on the GB squad, it’s a great pity that Sandy Ryan’s quest for an Olympic place this year ended not in a contest but with an administrative decision.
Ryan had been training, focusing and working towards selection for the final World qualification event, that had been due to take place later this year. But the coronavirus pandemic has thrown the Olympics and their qualifiers into such disarray that the Boxing Task Force had to push back the suspended European qualification to June and cancel the World qualifier. It meant that Sandy, who was not selected for the European qualifier last year and has been kept out of competition by a shoulder injury, saw her hopes for Tokyo extinguished at the stroke of a pen.
Ryan perhaps is hardened to disappointment. Last year she saw her Welsh rival Rosie Eccles chosen for the first Olympic qualifier. Rosie lost at that tournament in London, raising the possibility of that second chance for Ryan, optimism that would be dashed last month. “It was very hard, very upsetting. At the time [when Eccles was selected] my shoulder wasn’t great, it wasn’t stable. In a way I could see why that decision was made. I tried to get my shoulder going again but it just come to the point it went again in sparring and it was that bad,” Ryan said. “I was very upset and sad at the time but I’ve learned how to be stronger with my emotions. Whatever happens, happens.
“I’ll look forward and I’ll move forward.
“That’s the way I’m looking at life at the minute.”
She can look to the future. Ryan has signed with STN Sports, the management company that negotiated Callum Smith’s recent fight with Canelo Alvarez and represents 2024 Olympic super-heavyweight hope Delicious Orie, among others.
Her shoulder has been operated on, she is back to full fitness and raring to fight once again. “The last time I boxed was the end of 2019 [at the World championships], the last time I was in the ring. I’m ready. I’m ready to start. As mad as it sounds I’m ready to start punching people in the face,” she said. “We’re always in camp. I’ve had the longest time off I’ve had in nine years. So it has given my body a good rest. Now I just feel I’m ready to go now.
“I’m very motivated at the minute because I know it’s all exciting what’s going to happen in my boxing career.”
Ryan was a gifted amateur, a World championships silver and European bronze medallist. She also won the Commonwealth Games on one foot in 2018. “I had a stress reaction in my right foot, I had to get that taped up every time we fought, that was crazy. But I got through it,” she says.
But the natural step now would be for Ryan to turn professional. There the welterweight can be expected to come into her own.
She follows in the footsteps of older brother Dave, a successful pro who won the Commonwealth title and last fought against Josh Taylor in 2016. They have a following in their Derby hometown and her brother will provide another guiding hand. “It’s going to be good to have him in my corner and by my side throughout my professional career because he’s been there and done it. So I know he’s going to want the best for me and it’s going to help me a lot,” Sandy said. But she adds, “I need to bring some world titles back to Derby for sure.”
“I know that the people around me are going to be guiding me the right way,” she continued. “It is very exciting. I believe that’s where the best me is going to come out, when I am pro, so I am excited and a lot of people will see that.
“I’ll be ready. I’ll be excited for it all.”