Hannah Rankin: “In boxing, you are the business, and you need to be able to promote yourself.”

Hannah Rankin: “In boxing, you are the business, and you need to be able to promote yourself.”

By Jack Rainbow

“If you’re in Taekwondo, Thai boxing or kickboxing, men and women are treated the same. But when it comes to boxing there’s still this premise that women shouldn’t be in there”

When speaking about how to improve women boxing with Hannah Rankin, one thing that became apparent was her disdain for the two-minute round system:

“I just feel that women’s boxing is being held back by the fact we don’t have the chance between a Commonwealth title and a world title. There need to be more levels in the sport. There’s an argument that we don’t do what the guys do so you can’t be paid like the guys, which is infuriating. If they don’t want to give us three-minute rounds, they should do twelve, two-minute rounds for world title fights. Girls can fight for European titles and then can be put up for world titles even if they’re not at that level.

Safety was a paramount reason for this opinion, through the two-minute system prolonging fights:

“Three-minute rounds are safer. The two-minute rounds create such a fast pace and mean someone can be outclassed but be able to survive, only to have a minute to recover. Whereas if it was three-minute rounds, it would probably be stopped earlier as the opponent would have more time to work within earlier rounds. It’s frustrating as you have the girls in the Olympics doing three-minute rounds, so imagine doing that for a four or eight-year cycle and then going into a two-minute round. It’s frustrating for me, selfishly, too as a three-minute round would be better for me! People do enjoy the fast pace of women’s fighting, as there aren’t lulls as we don’t have time to chill, so my compromise was if you enjoy two-minute rounds at least give us twelve rounds for world titles.”

Hannah’s passion for women’s boxing and its potential was infectious. Whilst celebrating the increased number of professional women coming through, she also bemoaned how structural issues saw many fighters rushed into high-level fights, problems which are less prevalent in male boxing:

“Yes, more girls are coming to the game, but you have a lot of top-level fighters, but no middle ground. It’s all very strange to me. It does have to be addressed in some way or another. There is a big gap between the top and the bottom, which means half-decent people are pushed up to fight the top fighters, as there just aren’t the numbers. It stifles progress, and means some women fighters are rushed.”

Hannah also spoke at length about the lack of respect given to journeywomen, an important and unfortunate rarity within the women’s game, only worsened this gap, and meant many young fighters lacked the opportunity to be tested in a more healthy and controlled way before moving up the levels:

“We don’t have enough journeywomen! I was annoyed to read an article that talked about one specific example I won’t name, in a seriously disrespectful way. This article stated she should retire as she keeps losing. You see the double standards as journeymen are celebrated and we know that half the time they could take the win if they wanted to, but they are there as a test for the prospect to improve. But this was so disrespectful, and even if you win five and lose sixty-two it’s not a bad thing. This made me so angry I had to just shut it down, as I didn’t want to have to get into an argument with someone that big-headed, saying that certain women shouldn’t be in there just based on record!

“If you’re in Taekwondo, Thai boxing or kickboxing, men and women are treated the same. Some of the most badass women I know are Thai boxers, same with jiu-jitsu. But when it comes to boxing there’s still this premise that women shouldn’t be in there. But they no longer have a leg to stand on, as the general public is getting more invested as we are some of the most exciting fighters.”

Ebanie Bridges also came up, in particular, her polarising methods to popularise herself, involving wearing underwear at the weigh-ins. Hannah had no problem with this, even commending her promotional skills:

“So the thing is, I don’t think anyone has any right on what someone wants to wear at a weigh-in. I wouldn’t wear what she does, but that’s because I was never a ring girl or a bodybuilder. When I was a kid I was very self-conscious, so that’s not me. But that does not mean she shouldn’t do it. When you put it bluntly, the guys get up there and stand in their pants. She plays on it, and good on her.

“In boxing, you are the business, and you need to be able to promote yourself. You need to use social media and advertise, so however you sell tickets and make money for the promoter who is paying you, you will be more successful. So I have nothing against it, and people need to wind their necks in, as she is a brilliant fighter. It’s not just men who give her stick either, you would be surprised how many women have an issue with it. I have such respect for Ebanie. She built up her fanbase during the pandemic so successfully so she talked her way into UK fights and showed her skill during them.”

Hannah makes her much-anticipated return on November 5th in London against Maria Lindberg for the vacant IBO and WBA 154lb world titles, exclusively on Fightzone.

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