As part of MTK's Business Of Boxing series, it provided the following question and answer session with MTK Global Event Coordinator Ian Ritchie about his journey into the sport.
Q: Tell us a bit about your background in terms of growing up with sport…
Ian Ritchie: “I grew up in a wee place called Maryhill in Glasgow. If you google it, it will probably tell you that it’s one of the worst places in the UK to grow up but I had a good upbringing. I’m the oldest of three boys – I have twin brothers – and we had a great time despite it being a rough area to come up in. I left school at 15 to go to college. I did an HNC in Sport Management and then I got a seasonal job as a lifeguard. I never went back to college because I was a lifeguard from 16 and by the time I was 20, I was Assistant Manager. That’s how I got into the events side of things – I covered Scott Harrison fights and Ricky Burns fights at the Kelvin Hall. Then I moved to Scotstoun, where I covered all the rugby events.”
Q: What about your pathway into boxing and the experience you now have?
A: “I boxed when I was about 10 years old. My coach was a guy called John Kelly and he gave me the nickname ‘Rocky’ in my first session. I don’t think it was because of my boxing ability – it was more because I sounded like him! I boxed for a bit but then football took over and I played that to a decent level. I probably wasn’t the best player; I was just a bit rough and tumble and liked a challenge like most Scottish players. I got married in June 2012 and in July, I did a boxing event at Scotstoun. I fought on a white collar. I got back into training and had three fights. In one of them, which unfortunately you can see on YouTube, a guy hurt me and my legs went like Bambi! That’s when I started working with MTK Global. They wanted to do events in Scotland so I worked with them on those. I think I’m one of the longest-serving employees. I went full-time with them last year and now cover all the events.”
Q: What advice would you give youngsters hoping to coordinate big boxing events?
A: “My advice would be simply to be willing to work. Be willing to work outside normal hours, be willing to travel and really want it. Events isn’t something you get into just because there’s nothing else to do out there. If you want to be in Events and you get into it, you’ll love it. You need to love it. There’s not really a minute of the day that you’re free because your phone can go at any time. You need to love what you’re doing. I’ve done events for football, rugby, cage fighting and all that but I’ve always been a massive boxing fan. Joe Calzaghe was my all-time favourite and I always had a love for it. If you’re involved in boxing, you become like a family. Every one of our team maybe hate each other at times but when the going gets tough, we’d do anything for each other and we all work together. I’ve got my dream job so my advice is to take the gamble and go!”
Q: What impact can the MTK Academy have and how would it have changed your path growing up?
A: “I think the MTK Academy is going to change the way in which young people get into boxing. Obviously a fighter’s talent is often there for all to see but there are so many other jobs around this game that don’t get advertised much or people fall into them rather than choose the pathway. The academy will change that. With the passion I had for boxing, if someone had told me I could work in the sport at a younger age, I would certainly have considered studying alongside it while learning the ropes. These are great opportunities for youngsters and the best thing about it is that anyone can sign up and build a future in boxing – whether you went to private school or whether you’re from a place like Maryhill!”
Q: In terms of your own career and life, what do you still want to achieve?
A: “I love everything about MTK Global and everyone I work with. We’re all very close in a weird way! I’ve been with this company from the start back when we started doing events and seeing the growth from then to now leaves me intrigued about where we’re going to be in another five or six years. It’s a privilege to be involved in a company like this. There seems to be no limit on where it can get to. In terms of my personal goals, I want to provide for my family and give them as comfortable a life as possible.”
Thanks very much, Ian, and we look forward to your next event.