Super-middleweight Ryan Clark is still only 24 years old and has already got 63 professional fights under his belt, he has won just 5 of those fights and of his 54 losses he has been stopped just 3 times. Turning professional in June 2009 with a draw, he won his second fight and then didn’t pick up a win until two years later. During 2011 Clark had 27 fights, making him the busiest boxer in the world that year. He picked up the tag, the hardest working journeymen of recent times. Touring the country and taking on the best up and coming contenders and hotshot debutantes that were thrown at him.
Then in April 2012, he started on the journey that would turn his career and his life around when he won the International Masters Super-Middleweight title against Jonjo Finnegan at Derby County’s Football ground Pride Park. Clark stopped Finnegan in the 8th round to claim the vacant belt. Afterwards a rematch was set up for three months later and during the build-up became a real grudge match. Both went for it in another battle, with Clark again taking the win, this time knocking-out Finnegan in the 6th. Unfortunately Finnegan was stretchered from the ring and following lengthy treatment he was operated on due to a bleed to the brain. Finnegan has since made a recovery and continues to get back on his feet, but his boxing days were over.
The fight and Finnegan’s plight affected Clark, but he continued his career after hearing that Finnegan was on the mend and in his next fight knocked-out Jamie Boness in the 1st round in defence of his title, winning his 3rd fight on the bounce, the longest winning streak of his packed short career. Being a champion and you could say the effect the Finnegan fight had had on him turned Clark into a person he now looks back on with self-reproach, before and after the fights with Finnegan. He got too big for his boots, acted in a way out of the ring he regrets and didn’t train as he had been doing recently and what had brought him his three wins. He was thrust into a Midlands Area title fight with former British title challenger Martin Concepcion and was made to pay for his lack of preparation, it was another turn around in the career of Clark, he was knocked out in the 7th round in one of the best small hall fights of 2013 and was dealt a valuable lesson.
Since then Clark who hails from Lincolnshire, has parted ways with his longtime coach and manager Carl Greaves and at the moment is training himself, with the help and encouragement of his new girlfriend, who together with his skills coach Stuart How, he credits for helping him grow has a person but turning his career around.
No trainer and coming off the worst year of his boxing career and the devastating knockout defeat in his last fight, you may think Clark has nothing to be optimistic about in the game he says he loves to the core but you’d be wrong, he has never been in a better place mentally and believes the best is yet to come!
I caught up with Ryan and discussed his career, his two fights with Finnegan and the aftermath of the second fight, having 63 pro contests at just 24 years old, his record breaking feat of being the busiest fighter in the world, his loss to Concepcion, his hopes and dreams for his future in boxing and his determination to shed the journeyman tag after a 5 year apprenticeship learning his trade and with still plenty more years left ahead of him.
How well did you do in the amateurs Ryan?
I had a short amateur career really boxing only had 12 fights winning 9 of them picked up a few stoppages and made some great friends.
How did you get into boxing what/who influenced you?
I use to work for Martin Langrty and ex pro and he took me down one night did some pads with me and I went on going down
What do you do other than boxing for work, spare time etc?
I work as a poultry farmer which isn’t the best job long hours and a stinky job haha! I spend a lot of time with my girlfriend and friends like to be out walking the dogs and just your normal day to day kind of thing watching films relaxing.
How often do you train?
Well at the moment I haven’t got a trainer as my trainer has had work commitments and there isn’t a big opportunity around here so I’m just ticking over until someone can take me under there wing and take me where I need to be because I won’t lie I do need discipline in the gym.
Your 24 years old and have already had 63 fights in less than 5 years. So you were 19 when you turned pro? Take me back to that moment when you got your pro license and before your first fight what were your plans and ambitions for your career in the pros?
Pep rammed a few fights in that time haven’t I lol… I can remember at one point I had 11 fights in 11 weeks but I don’t regret a moment of it well until people pick up on the losses on your record but how things change I’ve shown what I can do and at least I’ve done something.. I turned pro with Carl Greaves at 19 and to be honest I didn’t really no what to expect I thought it would be just the same as amateurs but pro boxing is a totally different ball game I soon found that out the moment I got gloved up in Luton, hands all wrapped for me a great venue big crowds but like I said I didn’t really no what to expect I just knew I wanted to fight.
You drew your first fight, won the second and then didn’t pick up a win in your next 48 fights. At what point did you become a circuit fighter? I wouldn’t say journeyman because your only 24 years old, even though you picked up that tag. But did you become content on just earning a regular wage and getting out of there unscathed, because in all your defeats you’ve only been stopped three times?
I only really understood after about 10 fights in what I was doing! But what young lad wouldn’t like to be earning the money I was earning and enjoying it? I never got hurt like you said and only stopped 3 times yes. I had some tough tough fights but I enjoyed every minute of it and there isn’t once I backed down or never have I turned a single fight down. I got use to it, that was my job keep them coming I’ll fight whoever! But now I have a whole different view, I’ve tasted success and it tastes so good and I’m ready for more.
Well Ryan If you were ever going to change your mindset and decide to give your all to boxing and try to turn your career around, there are not many 24 year olds who have had the grounding and experience you have had. Do you feel that given your 5 year apprenticeship and getting to know the ins and outs, ups and downs of the pro game, that the best years could be ahead of you? In 2012 you had a good run of form winning the International Masters title against Jonjo Finnegan and then a first round KO win over Jamie Boness, what did you put that turn around down to?
I think already I have changed my career around after all I had a losing record being a journeyman. But I got in the gym put the work in and won the international Masters title three times on the trot all by knock-out. I know I’ve changed my career because I’ve been turning down fights that have being offered to me at short notice lately. I would of jumped at the chance at one point in my career but now I’m making the right path and have great intentions. Yes I think I have definitely served my apprenticeship and I tell you, it was a bloody hard one! Why didn’t I stay in school and be a doctor or something haha… But I don’t regret one fight! Week in week out fighting the top lads in the country, knock-out artists and still gave them tough stern tests with only days notice. But yes I do believe my best times are now ahead of me and I cant wait to do my talking in the ring instead of shouting about it before the fight, which I have previously made the mistake of doing, from now on I do my talking in the ring and leave it all in there. busiest
Yep had a great turn around in 2012 and I knew I always wanted to change my career and I was lucky enough for Carl Greaves to get me a title shot with Jonjo Finnegan for the international masters super middleweight championship. The fight was a great fight he put me down with one of the best shots I’ve been ever hit with and for a couple of rounds I didn’t really remember much, I was fighting on instinct but commentators on sky ringside did say that shot would of knocked a horse out, haha. I don’t even know how I got up but I did, I got my composure back and wore him down and stopped him in the 8th
The second fight with Finnegan ended in bitter sweet circumstances for you after Jonjo was stretchered from the ring after a tough tough battle. He was subsequently operated on due to a bleed to the brain, fortunately Jonjo survived, but will never box again. What effect did that have on you at the time and now looking back in hindsight?
Bitter sweet circumstances for sure it had a brutal affect on me to start with then I got to grips with it after starting to work with sports coach Stuart How. It’s unfortunate what happened but we all no what were doing when we step into them for ropes boxing they say is brutally beautiful I think that hits the nail on the head the main thing is he survived and is good form and has got a great family and friends who supported him through it all and I believe he’s recently had a new baby well not him his missus haha which I’m sure makes up for the awful past year he must of had God Bless him.
There was some real bad blood and pre fight hype before both fights, particularly the second and you seemed more up for them than your fights in the past. How do you feel now over the situation you found yourself in after Jonjo was injured and now, have you been in contact with Jonjo, do you speak?
Yes the second fight was some real bad blood I wasn’t expected to beat him in the first fight but I came and produced the goods then I didn’t have to but I gave him the rematch even in his own town and we went on BoxNation hour and usual trash talk between two fighters both telling each other who would win and both 100% confident he defo cheated at Jenga on that show though, I won I took more goes haha! But come on who wants to see two boxers hold hands chatting before a fight? What sells tickets? It’s all mind games and the hate for each other is just a part time thing, the two fighters just both want to be victorious.
No I don’t really speak to him much but we have spoke a few times. I am just delighted that he’s here and getting on with his life and with his family. There’s not much more really to say. What happened with us is in the past and I wish him the best of luck from the bottom of my heart, for him and his family for their future.
Was it hard for you to get back in the ring after that fight?
The fight after Jonjo I won with a first round KO over Jamie Boness, who I’d actually boxed in my début. We have become really good friends out of boxing as well, which is how it should be. The preparation, training and everything went well but it was always lodged in the back of my mind though… But knowing he is recovering has helped to set my mind at peace and let me get on with my own life and career
After that fight you KO’ed Boness in 1 and then in March last year took on Martin Concepcion for the Midland Area title, you lost in the 7th. What a fight that was! You were down in the 2nd then again in that great 4th round, where you did well to get up and take the fight to Concepcion. What do you recall of the fight up until then?
Yes I got the 1st round KO over Boness, then Carl matched me to fight former British title challenger Martin Concepcion. He did have me down a few times but things in the build up wasn’t right for that fight, only due to my own actions really. I think I got lost in the limelight a bit and expected too much of myself against a top contender like Concepcion. I didn’t diet properly and I took everything for granted knowing I have the power to KO people. So I guess I needed that lesson and Martin gave me that. I admire him as a boxer and a friend but in the ring that night it was only 25% of Ryan Clark but that’s behind me now. Like I said I got my ass handed to me and I was taught a lesson and I think I needed it to become the person and fighter I am today.
In the 5th you bit his shoulder! What were you thinking at that moment? was it frustration?
Yes in the 5th round I bit his shoulder, something which I’m not proud of but something I also can’t really remember! I guess I was in the trenches and it was frustration but it’s something I regret doing, plus it didn’t taste very nice either, I’m sure he was covered in Nivea moisturiser hahaha!
The KO you suffered in the 7th was a bad one, full credit even though you were out before you hit the canvas you still tried to get up and argued with the referee!
It was some shot he caught me with I had my hands down and I was caught flush on the chin! I cant really remember it but watching it back on TV, referee Terry O’ Connor was pushing me down as I was trying to still get up and fight on, I think that was all down to pride but the ref made the right decision. Martin was the better fighter that night and it has landed him an English title shot this year, which he deserves and ill be going to give him my full support. Me and Martin are sparring together soon so I’m sure i’ll get him back for that night lol! But no biting though!
That was your last fight against Concepcion, so nearly a year out now, where have you been, what have you been doing, what effect did the Concepcion loss have on you and when do you expect to fight again?
I’ve been out of the ring for 8 months now but do you know what? I think I needed it! Having had 27 fights in 2011, more than any other professional in the world that year and then having 64 fights at the tender age of 23, just a boy really and I needed a break so I’ve been on a break alright, partying, socialising and just being a young lad. But I needed that and I’m glad I’ve had the chance to get that out of my system and now I’ve been handed the chance to move forward with my career. I’m back in the gym full time and I’m just looking for a new trainer now. So while were here talking about that if there is any opportunities for me to take with someone as they say come at me bro ha ha I need some guidance discipline and a trainer so looking for someone to get in touch with me!
From the teenager who turned pro in June 2009, to the man you are now, where are you now mentally as oppose to then, what has your career learnt you in terms of who you are, what you want in life and where can you go from here in boxing?
Your right and that’s exactly what I was a young cocky teenager who thought I could do what I wanted because of the name I made for myself in the ring but no one wants to know a pro boxer as a bully or cocky mouth person its not what the public want. Ok fare doos a bit of banter before a fight but not the way I was conducting my behaviour and public trash talking, which is why I can look back on that and learn from it. I’m lucky to have realised my behaviour then and now with the help of the people around me especially my skills coach Stuart How. On one of my sessions with Stuart he made a statement when he mimicked me and ‘Yea I’m Ryan Clark, I’ll KO anyone, I want to fight him, him and him or…. ‘Yea I’m feeling great trainings gone well and I’m ready to do business.’ that really made me stand back and take a look at the person I WAS compared to the young kind fighter I now see myself as and the public will see. Stuart has changed me as a fighter and a person and I owe him my life, to be able to do what he is doing for me. We have a great working relationship and he’s working with me week in week out to mentally make me the strongest fighter on the British scene.
Do you Love Boxing?
I love boxing to the core! You can’t beat it the hard work in the gym, which I didn’t use to do. Walking out of the gym knowing you have put your body through that physical endurance and feeling on top of the world. I love training for weeks on end to finally step into that ring and put it all into action.
Who is your favourite boxer?
My favourite boxer has got to be George Groves always liked him great lad. I boxed on the undercard of his when he fought James Degale at the 02 in London. I think the way he handles and conducts himself is great, he’s a top lad and wish him the best for the future, not to sure about the ginger tho 😉 I’m sure he’s going to have a comeback on that one haha!
This time next year if you could predict a perfect scenario for you future in and out of the ring what would it be?
My scenario is, I want to find a trainer who is going to give me the discipline and time I need and I want to work my way towards a British title shot. Then have a child or one on the way and just keep going as I mean to go on.
Best friends in boxing?
I’ve met some great people in boxing who I’m proud to call friends and even though we don’t see each other much we will always be close Andrew Lowe from the same gym as me, he’s a great friend, we have some brilliant times, he made the torturous sessions bearable, even though he did copy my haircut and now fancies himself as a bit of a Joey Essex.
Kevin Hooper from Grimsby, another ex stable mate I have got a lot of time for. And then there’s the one and only upset king, Mr Block Shane McPhilbin I love that guy to bits, we’ve got some great memories. Matt Christie from Boxing News is another great friend, plus my personal Spinach and Steak chef from London Phillip Sharkey, just some of the amazing people I’ve met so far on the journey.
Although things didn’t work out with me and my trainer Carl Greaves in the end I’ve to thank him for where I am today. I wasn’t the easiest boxer to mange at the time going back to the teenager part but we had some great times great memories and I’d like to thank him for getting me to where I am today and wish him and his family the best of luck for the future.
My dad has done so much for me along this great journey and he’s proud of me already but the day I get into the ring to fight for the British title will just be to say thanks for everything he has done for me.
I’m now with Chelsea based manager Mickey Helliet who I know will give me the opportunities that we are looking for and I’m confident if I keep to my part of the bargain he will his and I’m looking forward to the future. I’d also like to thank my sponsors so far, CNP Professional Supplements, Absolutely Fabulous Flooring, Worcester Evolution Gym Lincoln, thanks for your support and I’m still looking out for some new backing if anyone is interested.
I used to be a brawler get in get paid tough as they come happy days! Now my boxing ability has come on no end, my jab is a weapon I never used before but with the power I possess I’m looking forward and I’m very excited to now start to working my way up the ladder again and showing people what fighter and person I have turned into. Be sure I’ll try to make 2014 a successful one for us all, hope everyone has a healthy and successful year and I’m sure you will see the new reformed Ryan Clark on your screens soon.. Godbless x