Manchester's 'Ruthless' Ryan Doyle Commonwealth featherweight champion SIGNED (silver sharpie) victory celebration black & white 8" x 10" photo.
Following the footsteps of 'The Hitman' by John Evans
Thursday 4th June will mark 10 years to the day since Ricky Hatton thrilled his Manchester fan club and announced himself to the World by bullying Kostya Tszyu into defeat to become the light welterweight champion of the World. Hatton’s performance that night and his subsequent assaults on Las Vegas are still spoken about to this day, but we may be about to see some tangible evidence of his impact on Manchester fight scene.
Plenty of youngsters were drawn into the city’s gyms during the Hitman’s rise to prominence and three of those who showed the talent and dedication needed to become professional fighters are reaching critical points in their careers.
Ardwick-born, but Gorton-bred, ‘Ruthless’ Ryan Doyle’s route into professional boxing would be a familiar one were it not for one significant detour.
“I was very young when I started boxing. My dad took me down to a gym in Ardwick. Doyle, 10-1 (6 KOs), told Boxing Monthly. “I had a very brief spell though. I didn’t really like it! I started properly when I was about 15 or 16.
“I was messing about and fighting in school and just being a bit of a toe-rag to be fair. I turned that aggression into something else and I’ve never looked back. I started my boxing career with Sean Krool (the South African born trainer who resides in Manchester). He took me over to South Africa for eight weeks. That’s where I learned my trade.
“I stayed with Sean’s family and I was training twice a day like a pro. I’d only just turned 18 and was ready to go professional. South Africa opened my eyes to just how hard the training is and I realised I needed a bit more time to adjust and let my body grow.
“I was in Johannesburg at Nick Durandt’s. When I was there they had about three champions and around ten fighters ranked in the top ten with the governing bodies. It was a tough gym and they were very well-schooled.”
Sharing a Johannesburg sweatshop with a host of World class talent made a lasting impression on the 23-year-old featherweight. There is still plenty of the Manchester toe-rag about his hard-punching, come forward style but he manages to combine it with some slick switch-hitting and plenty of head movement. When he is in full flow, it is an impressive sight.
“I’m a come forward pressure fighter but I switch stance a lot. I’m aggressive, I come forward and I move my head a lot. A lot of people have said I don’t box like the typical British fighter. I’m different to everybody else. A lot of people have said I look more American or Mexican.
“I’ve found that most of the people I’ve knocked out, it hasn’t happened from looking for the knockout. It’s been down to being sharp. It’s been a sharp shot and they’ve not expected it.”
From one tough school to another and Doyle decided to base himself at the legendary Champs Camp in inner city Moss Side, now under the watchful eye of Ensley ‘Bingo’ Bingham. He could never be accused of taking the path of least resistance. Hand injuries and a shock, injury ravaged 10-round defeat to late notice substitute Ian Bailey have slowed his progress slightly but the defeat made Doyle reassess his career. He came to the conclusion that he would benefit from a change of routine and has since relocated to the same back room at the Betta Bodies gym in Denton where Hatton honed his skills. Now training under Bobby Rimmer at the rebranded Bobby Rimmer Boxing Academy, Doyle is determined to get back on track.
“I had ten fights out of the Champs Camp. The training, the fighting. I’ve had it the hard way if anything!” he said. “People can reel off 101 excuses but I take my hat off to Ian Bailey. He came in at short notice, I was the favourite and he got the win. There’s no point in making excuses for it. I broke my hand in the third round – it sounds daft but I said in the corner that it felt like my hand was in sand - I couldn’t move it. I perforated my ear drum in round four and it felt like I was swaying on a boat and then I got a cut in round five. To be honest, I’m surprised I got as far as I did! I felt terrible from round four.
“I’m a ten times better fighter now than I was that night. I had that defeat and it opened my eyes a bit. Ricky Hatton won his World title from this gym, This is where he trained for the Kostya Tszyu fight. It’s great. I’m training under Bobby Rimmer now and I train alongside Brian Rose. We have a good time in the gym and things are good.”