Never one to shy away from a challenge, reigning IBO super-welterweight world champion, Hannah Rankin is about to make a move away from her comfort zone.
After winning her title in front of a sold-out crowd, live on BBC Scotland, the twenty-nine year-old would be forgiven if she chose to fight exclusively within the UK.
Instead, Rankin has decided to sign with Salita Promotions in a bid to further her career and embrace big fights across the pond. The fact Dmitriy Salita has been building female boxing and specifically the unbeaten and unified world middleweight champion, Claressa Shields on Showtime was a factor behind her decision.
“I love the way that he’s so supportive of Claressa and getting women on his shows,” she told me over the phone from training in Poland. “I just think it’s really important to be with a promoter that’s so ‘for’ women in boxing. I worked with him for the Shields fight and when I was out training in New York for my title fight, I was using Salita’s gym to train at as well. I get on very well with him, so it’s a good move for me really. Plus, most of the girls that are around my weight class mainly are in the States.”
Sam Kynoch, the Scottish promoter who helped guide Hannah to her IBO world title will continue to be a part of Team Rankin, as will U.S. media guru, Mark Taffet who also manages Claressa Shields. It all makes for a formidable team to help Hannah achieve her lofty goals. “Any things that happen over in America – Mark’s in charge of most of that. When he asked to take over my American management, he wanted to become part of the team,” she explained. “I’m obviously still very close to working with Sam. It’s a great partnership really because I have the best of both worlds. I’ve a fantastic manager in the UK and a top-level manager in the United States as well. My interests are best-kept!”
Rankin’s debut under the Salita Promotions banner will be on the October 5th undercard of Shields’ Flint, Michigan homecoming as she looks to add the WBO 154lbs world title to her four 160lbs world crowns. Scotland’s first-ever female world champion will face battle-hardened American veteran, Erin Toughill, who fought Laila Ali way back in 2005 and has won ten of fourteen bouts in her MMA career.
“Two fights ago she fought Maricela Cornejo, which a lot of people thought she got robbed in. I personally thought she beat Cornejo. Her next fight was against Raquel Miller and that was for the American middleweight title and she got beaten by Miller. I’m looking forward to fighting her. She’s a good person to fight. She wants to come forward and actually have a fight which is great and I think it’ll be exciting for people to watch. It’s a great promotional debut for me.”
No fighter ever admits to looking past their next assignment, but Rankin and her team have been looking at longer term plans and goals for the rest of 2019 and beyond. “We’ve got some things in the pipeline for another fight before the end of the year. Most of that is still getting confirmed at the moment and I obviously can’t say anything else about it (laughs). It just depends what happens and where it’s going to be. I’m aiming to stay at the 154lbs limit, that’s my favourite weight-class, so it’s where I want to be and where I feel strongest and where I perform best.”
Speaking of performing at her best, it was exactly that she did, when on June 15th the vacant IBO super-welterweight world championship was claimed via a hard-fought ten-round war of attrition against Sarah Curran. It was a night in which she created history and will never forget. “I’m still incredibly proud to be Scotland’s first-ever female world champion. It’s so cool to be a part of history for my home,” Rankin humbly told me. “I’m still absolutely floating from that one, to be honest. The fact that it was on the BBC and broadcast to so many people – it was a real step forward for women’s boxing as a whole. I’m really proud to become an IBO world champion.”
Not just inside the ring, but outside the ropes, Rankin carries herself as a true champion. I’ve encountered many moments on social media where it’s clear she’s an inspiration to young girls who one day dream of emulating her achievements. “That’s really my main goal with where I am at the moment. To be a world champion is such a responsibility because when you become world champion, (it’s) not just because you’re a great boxer, but you’ve also got to live the life and be a good representation for kids who look up to you as an inspiration in the sport. To have letters from kids coming through is amazing. One of the girls sent me a little model, it’s the Scottish flag and it’s got a boxing glove on it. It’s so nice!”