Fighters have always impressed me. People who get punched in the face for a living are a particularly special breed to admire for those of us who work ‘normal’ jobs.
But, fighters who also spend 40+ hours a week working a ‘normal’ job – that’s something altogether even more impressive.
Illinois’ Sarah ‘Savage’ Curran (4-1-1) is one such subject. Just over two months away from her battle with Scotland’s Hannah Rankin (6-3) for the vacant IBO super-welterweight world championship, Curran somehow spared some time to talk with me over the phone between her warehouse job and prior to heading to the gym.
“I work a full-time job in a warehouse. I micromanage a group and we mail and ship packages.” Curran told me. “I’ll be there for probably 8-10 hours a day.
“In the morning, I go to my conditioning coach three days a week and then later in the day I’ll go to the gym to get my bag work and road work in on the treadmills. I’ll go home and cook all my own food. I eat all fresh, organic food and I’m big on living off the land. And I like that kind of lifestyle, kind of like a hippy. I own my house and live in a small town and just grind. If I’m not at my job, I’m still working on boxing or trying to find sponsorship. I’m just a workhorse.”
Her work ethic is admirable, to say the least, and gives her a positive vibe that she carries throughout her daily life. “I’m just kind of like a free-spirit. I love life and I love having the opportunity of being blessed with being healthy and happy and getting to do the things I get to do because not everybody gets to do that.”
Just eight amateur bouts preceded her foray into the pro game. Curran’s tale is a familiar one of politics pushing a young boxer away from the amateur ranks. “I didn’t like the amateurs. With the politics in boxing, especially in Chicago, they just favoured whoever had more fights. I came in the game and had to fight people who had lots of fights. They didn’t like that somebody with two fights was beating on the girl with twenty fights.”
Unfortunately, I’ve heard many stories like this before. It’s not the first and won’t be the last. “If it went to a decision, they would give it to the favourite girl.”
Astonishingly, none of twenty-six year-old Curran’s previous professional opponents had ever tasted defeat prior to facing her. It was clearly a goal to match her tough from day one.
“Yeah, absolutely. Every opponent I had to fight were all unbeaten and their amateur backgrounds were elite.” she told me.
Her only defeat was her debut. Eleven months away from the ring then gave her a chance to focus completely on her pugilism. “I got married and I had just recently bought a house. I was getting my personal life in order and getting everything situated before I could really commit to boxing.”
Commit she did, four wins and a draw against strong opposition in the following eighteen months put her on course for a shot at the IBO world championship.
“The funny thing is, as soon as I lost, it was really easy to get opponents because everybody wants to go for the person who has a loss. As of right now, I think women’s boxing is the biggest we’ve seen it in a long time. Right now, getting opponents – I haven’t really had much of a problem. I had a couple of fight offers and taking the fight with Hannah was the right fight to take.”
She continued, “As soon as I read, ‘are you interested in fighting Hannah Rankin at 154lbs?’ I was ready to do it. They could have offered me a lot less than I’m getting offered now for that fight and I probably would have still took it just because when it comes to women’s boxing – you can’t pick and choose. It’s not like there’s a bunch of us, so you have to jump on the opportunity and I believe in my skill and I believe in myself enough to know that I’m ready to take this fight.”
This will not only be Curran’s first fight abroad, but it’s her first ever overseas trip. As well as giving away home advantage, size will be in Rankin’s favour too.
“At the end of the day, all the girls I fought have all been bigger than me. Size, to me, doesn’t mean anything. If you look at the pictures of all my face-offs, everybody towers over me. It’s like a ‘David and Goliath’ story.”
Despite having already fought and beaten an Olympian (Edith Ogoke), Curran believes June 15th will likely be her toughest fight so far.
“This is going to be one of my toughest fights and challenges to date. I see that Hannah trains hard and she went ten rounds with Claressa Shields. Everybody thought she was going to get smashed and that girl proved herself for sure. She is a tough girl and she knows how to box.”
Last time out, ‘Savage’ won her first pro championship (ABF welterweight title) with a unanimous decision win over Shianne Gist.
“I was impressed with her head movement and accurate punching having watched it on Youtube. Curran sees herself improving with each fight.
“As a fighter – I see myself growing. Some of the girls that fought me, they should smash me, I shouldn’t even be in the ring with them. So, I’m watching myself grow in each fight. In every fight, I adjust appropriately to how the opponent fights. I liked my last fight. I thought it was a great performance and I won all the rounds, but you can always be better. I’m always going to have a chip on my shoulder after every fight – even if I win. I want to better myself and keep learning. I’m hungry.”
Sarah trains out of Mango Combat Sports in Elgin, Illinois and has been with her boxing coach for eleven years.
“My coach just opened the gym. I’ve always been with Doug Mango, my coach and the owner of Mango Combat Sports since I was fifteen. He trained at Team Curran which was an MMA gym, but he did boxing out of the gym. So, when he opened up his own gym, obviously I went with him.”
We’re going to see two massively determined and hungry fighters battle it out on June 15th at the Lagoon Leisure Centre in Paisley, Scotland. With the IBO world title on the line, the prize is huge. Curran intends to put it all on the line. “Expect to see ‘Savage’ at her best.
“I am going to create my body to be in the best shape ever. This is a title fight. I don’t have an easy opponent. This is going to be a great match-up and you’re going to see me at my best, in the best shape and ready to go. I’m coming for the belt and I know my opponent is as well, so it’s going to be a dogfight.
“Let’s give these people a show and show what women can do in boxing.”