By Jamie Rebner

“It’s hard, losing sucks.”

“We’re in it to win it so when we lose, it takes a day or two for it to hit hard, especially when you put the sacrifices and hard work in. Especially for myself, I’ve gone away and I’ve fought and lost, but the one thing I always do is I never give up. A lot of people, when the going gets tough, they like to just think. But for me, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I’ve put it in my head that I’m not going to stop now. It’s not over until you say it’s over. When you lose, take the things from that loss, challenge it and turn it into positive energy. Use all that energy to get back in the gym and do what you have to do. The grind doesn’t stop.”

If there’s anyone that you should listen to when it comes to handling adversity, it’s Ryan Ford.

A professional boxer since 2015, after having a successful career in mixed martial arts (MMA), Ford knows all too well about getting the short end of the stick. All five of his boxing losses have been in his opponents’ hometowns. This trend continued in his most recent bout in England, where he was controversially stopped in the seventh round by local favorite Joshua Buatsi. The sequence that ended the fight saw Buatsi nail Ford, the Edmonton native, with a left hook below the beltline. Such a low blow normally warrants five minutes of recovery time but the referee, despite having the perfect vantage point, failed to acknowledge the foul and awarded Buatsi the knockout victory.

Despite the unfortunate outcome, Ford is practicing what he preaches when it comes to losing; He’s already back in the gym and working hard to prepare for his next fight.

“When you win, sometimes you don’t learn. When I was fighting mixed martial arts and you knock a guy out in 27 seconds, I didn’t learn anything from that fight. Yes, I know I can knock somebody out, but it was the 5-round title fight that we had to dig deep in and push it to that next level so that we learn. When I took the [boxing] fight against Fedor Chudinov in Russia, it was my first 12-round fight and my first fight back at 168 pounds in five years. We took that fight, I went in there and gave it my all and I lost a decision, but I didn’t take that as a loss, I took that as a learning experience. The losses that you have, sometimes you need to take those as learning experiences.”

Just as with handling adversity, Ford is well versed in how to learn from life’s experiences and accept the consequences of your actions. As a young adult, he served time in jail for mistakes he made due to being involved with the wrong people. Once he got out of jail in 2007, he turned to the sport of MMA as a positive avenue to keep him occupied and to which he could devote his energy. After a career in MMA, Ford is now solely focused on boxing and he has several keys to success that he would like to impart to all striving athletes:

Ryan Ford’s Keys to Success

  1. Only keep positive people in your inner circle

“You are a product of your environment. So if you’re surrounding yourself with negative attitudes and negative people, most likely everything that you’re going to be surrounded by is going to be negative. You got to surround yourself with people that have like-minded goals. They may not be boxing-related, but if they have goals that they’re trying to reach, those are the people that you want to be around. You want to be around the positive people that motivate you.”Hard work, dedication, and sacrifice are crucial to reach your goals

2. Hard work, dedication, and sacrifice are crucial to reach your goals

“My son plays soccer, he’s only 8 years old, but he plays U-11 and I stress to him every day that it’s about the sacrifice, dedication, and the hard work that you put in. I tell him, ‘you think Ronaldo just juggles the ball for ten minutes and then goes to play video games? No, Ronaldo was juggling the ball every single day. That’s how he got better.’ And I tell my son, ‘Daddy doesn’t have to always be there with you for you to put the work in’. When I’m here at home, I go to the gym myself because I want to be better. Nobody is telling me to go to the gym. You shouldn’t need somebody to push you to do what you want to be. If you want to be the best, you got to be willing to sacrifice going out and playing with your friends and be dedicated to whatever it is you want to be the best at.”

3. Believe in yourself

“People always tell people that they can’t do this, they can’t do that. But it’s like me, I started boxing and a lot of people said it’s going to be a hard transition at the age that I started. But look at where I’ve gone already in the last four years boxing professionally. I’ve made it to the big stages and that’s all because of the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. I don’t listen to what people say. People may say something but I’m going to make sure I prove them wrong. You need to believe in yourself. There’s going to be those days that are hard, those days that are tough, but just remember, everybody has those days and it’s those days that count that you push it more.”