Hannah Rankin fights for the Super Welterweight Commonwealth Title at the Paisley Lagoon on the MTK Evolution show on Saturday 7th April. This is the first time the female Commonwealth title will be fought for in the UK.
When we caught up, Hannah admitted she was excited to be fighting for the title as well as breaking down her opponent Julie Tshabalala very well.
“I’m very excited to be fighting for the Commonwealth and really proud that it’s going to be at home up in Scotland as well, it’s a little chance to make history. Julie has been 3 times South African champ and also fought for the World title against Christina Hammer the Middleweight champion who is one of my main sparring partners so we will also be able to get some inside info there. She is a little bit shorter than me with quite a high guard so we are going to work on boxing and moving for the first part of the fight. She has got a big overhand right so I’m going move around and box for the first 4 rounds and then start working on the inside later on, that’s the plan anyway”
Trained by Noel Callan and managed by Derek “Sweet D” Williams Hannah explained how the chance to box on the MTK shows came about.
“The reason I’m on the MTK show is that when I’m home I train out of the MTK gym in Glasgow. My manager Derek and Gary Jacobs know each other really well so they get me working with Gary when I’m up and it all came from there. Boxing on the recent MTK show was one of the best shows I’ve been on so it’s really good. As it was my first one in Scotland I was the most nervous I’ve ever been. Normally I can stay quite calm and collected about it but as my whole family and extended family were all there and some of them have never seen me box before I was a little bit nervous. It went fine though and the next time it won’t be just as bad”
Discussing training camps, Hannah opened up as to the quality of the sparring she gets and how helpful team GB have been to her.
“I am always looking to get the chance to have different sparring partners; I never came through the amateur system so I’m often up at team GB in Sheffield or working with the elite ABA girls because I’m never going to be fighting them for the Olympic things or their own competitive stuff. It’s great for me and I’m quite open to working with everybody. Noel is of the opinion that as I’m essentially learning on the job and I don’t have the amateur experience that we need to get the best sparring and that’s why we are really willing to travel and we have some great sponsors who help out with the cost of travelling which is great and I’m very lucky in that respect”
“I got an introduction to Team GB as I used to spar with Kelly Morgan before she retired, she used to go up with Richard Farnan and he is now part of my corner team. They have a whole little world up there but once you have been and proven your worth you get asked back so it’s nice. The best thing about it is that they are super technical and really fast for 4 rounds as that what’s they are trained to do. It’s great for me as I can do 4 rounds with one and then 4 rounds with another when I’m prepping for a fight so I’ve always got someone fresh coming in”
“I’m also going out to Berlin to train with Klara Svennson, she is the no 2 ranked Welterweight in the world and Christina (Hammer) will come and join us so we can all get some sparring there. I’m Christina’s main sparring partner for the lead up to her American fight so we have done a lot of rounds. It’s always really good sparring as she is technically brilliant, she is a great person to learn from but I always try to bring something new each time I go out there to keep her on her toes”
Hannah has fought at the York Hall where she won the International Challenge belt, how did she feel about not just boxing but headlining such an iconic venue?
“It was an amazing experience to headline somewhere like the York Hall, I couldn’t believe it as I wasn’t meant to be headlining but I had a massive crowd there for me as it was right after my debateable loss in Norway and I got a standing ovation at the end. It was quite cool to be headlining somewhere like that and I love boxing at York Hall, it has so much history and is my favourite place so far”
Having worked with a host of big names, I was keen to know who Hannah admired in the game.
Christina Hammer and Mikaela Lauren, I see them as role models for myself, Mikaela is 5 times world champ and Christina is the current world champion and holds herself as the champ. She is a great person to be around and learn about what it takes to be a champion and I really respect that. I’ve also sparred Chantelle Cameron and she is going to be a great female to have in our history and a great world champion, she’s a great boxer and a great person to work with”
“In the male game I love GGG and Josh Kelly and I think he will be a great talent. From previous it would be Joe Calzaghe as I liked his I can do anything attitude towards it all and Sugar Ray Leonard. One of my absolute favourites is Kevin Mitchell and I’m working to try and copy his lead uppercuts at the moment”
Hannah always looks strong at the weigh-in for a fight and she explained a bit more about her trainer Noel.
“What people don’t know is that first and foremost Noel was a strength and conditioning coach, that’s where his speciality lies. He is very knowledgeable in that area and very good at getting my body right to have me fit and strong for a fight. He is also a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu which is great for me as when I’m learning to do my inside work we have some good techniques to get out of a clinch and work rather than wasting time. I noticed in the Okolie V Chamberlain match that there was a lot of clinching and they didn’t really know how to get out of it so that’s something I got from Noel and it’s really helpful”
Without looking past the Commonwealth fight Hannah also mapped out what she would ideally like to happen going forward.
“Derek (Williams) won the Commonwealth title and the European title so I would like to follow in his footsteps and go for the European as well. He is a big inspiration to me and one of the main reasons I started to box so I would be really proud to say I won those. If I do win the Commonwealth it does put me quite high up the rankings for various things so there could be potential to fight for other titles maybe even a World title eventually but for me, it would be the European. There are no other titles before European and Commonwealth, there is the International Challenge belt but there are no British or southern area titles in woman’s boxing at the moment. We don’t have domestic titles and that’s something I hope the board will eventually invest in once we have a few more women involved in boxing.”
As we came to the end of our chat it was the age-old question of a prediction, how did Hannah see the fight going?
“I feel I win this fight and win it well, I think it’s going to be a tough fight and I don’t expect an early knockout so I do think it might go the distance. She’s tough and she’s fought some tough opponents, she is very skillful and is currently ranked above me so it’s a credible opponent. I feel you have to have tough fights if there is a title on the line as you don’t want it to become a mockery and put woman’s boxing back, we want it to be taken seriously. Winning the Commonwealth would open so many doors for my career which is important with me not having a promoter so I’m going to take this chance”
Hannah would like to thank the following sponsors who help greatly in her preparation for fights.
Science in Sports, Secret Slots, Southpaw Jab, JFB Sports, Ammo, iGot DOMS, David Marshall London.
Anyone interested in sponsoring Hannah or looking for tickets can contact her or her trainer Noel Callan on Facebook and Twitter @boxinnbassooning or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the latest in boxing & combat equipment see www.A1FightGear.com.