The hills above Loch Lomond have been left behind, the concert halls of London and beyond have been abandoned for the time being. Everything Hannah Rankin, bassoonist and boxer costs is a ring in Mulvane, Kansas.
There, next Saturday night, the 28-year-old daughter of Luss will fight sheep farmers to become the first Scottish woman world boxing champion.
Her job is formidable. She faces Claressa Shields, a double gold medalist at the Olympic Games for her IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight titles. Rankin & # 39; s resume is more exotic.
Hannah Rankin will fight to become the first Scottish world champion in boxing
She is the contender who studied at the Royal Conservatory of Scotland and the Royal Academy of Music in London. She is the challenger who balances playing for quintets and orchestras while forging a career in the ring. She is a daughter who thanks her late mother and the sport that helped her to deal with grief.
& # 39; When I stepped into boxing, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and it went down very quickly. It only took six months before she succeeded, & Rankin says.
Boxing was a way to turn off, spending time with clearing my head. It helped me endure the grieving process. It means a lot to me only for that. & # 39;
She became professional two years ago and achieved a 5-2 record. One loss was "a robbery", the other was in a battle for the world title. Rankin has come a long way from that sheep farm above Luss. The details of the trip are almost fantastic.
& # 39; All my summers were spent on the farm & # 39 ;, she says. & # 39; Many shaving, never went on vacation until we were about 10. My first years had everything to do with the hills, in the middle of nowhere. & # 39;
Her mother, Clare, was musical. "My mother really encouraged us all three with music", says Rankin, who has two sisters. & # 39; She played piano, cello and horn. I first played on the piano and then on the flute. Then I got the chance to play the bassoon at school. & # 39; Formal musical education followed, but how did the boxing go?
The 28-year-old balances her career as a bassoonist with a chance at the world title
"I suppose I am a bit of the black sheep of the family," she says with an apologetic giggle to the joke about farming in the hills. & # 39; I had an affinity with martial arts as a child. I took taekwondo and I liked the discipline. It is similar to the discipline in music. & # 39;
There are people who are amazed by the apparent inequality in her two jobs, but Rankin points to the similarities. Both are performances, both adrenalin-fed and both push the practitioners to the limit.
& # 39; It's about keeping things under control. Both are performed under light and it is all about being present in the moment. I love both jobs, "she says.
She speaks softly and powerfully about the appeal of ring and orchestra. & # 39; By the time you hit Fight Night you have worked incredibly hard. Next Saturday I will be stronger than I have ever been, fitter than I have been. After all those difficult hours in training you can enjoy the moment. There is, of course, stress in fighting, but also in the freedom to perform. It is an adrenaline rush. It is the winner has everything. & # 39;
From playing in an orchestra, she says: & # 39; It is wonderful when the whole entity delivers a stunning performance. It is as if everyone is about to play, everyone plays their role, the speed is just right … it is the same feeling as starting to knock out your opponent. & # 39; It seems as if the ring and the concert hall are only two phases that require the only action.
Rankin is a musician who is for rent in London. She teaches and is also on the freelance market. & # 39; It's easy & # 39 ;, she says. & # 39; If an orchestra needs a bassoonist, the desk calls me. & # 39;
Boxing is slightly more complicated. Rankin started as a means to improve her condition. & # 39; I do not like the gym. I find it boring. I have to take classes or something to keep me interested. So boxing was perfect. Of course it is great for fitness, but there is also a mental side that I like. & # 39;
The decision to go professionally under Sam Kynoch was a gamble, taken after only two years of fighting. It requires a financial investment to be a female pro-boxer. & # 39; Yes, there is glitter and glamor in pro-boxing. But to get somewhere in boxing, you have to spend money, & # 39; she says. You may have to pay for your opponent to fly in and pay meals for them and their environment. You can pay £ 1,000 to fight on the card.
& # 39; Then there are the training camps, etc. … you need sponsors. It is hard work and personal money. You pay for the glory. & # 39; The battle in the Kansas Star Arena and Casino next week is a gamble. It is a stylish card, with heavyweight Jarrell Miller hoping to keep his rise and triple world champion Ricky Burns on the bill.
Rankin, however, has her hands full with Shields, a contender for the best pound-woman boxer. A very gifted amateur, the American has swept everything for her in the pro & # 39; s.
Both courses are performances, adrenalin-fed and push the practitioners to the limit
Rankin, who was beaten by Alicia Napoleon in a super middleweight world title fight the last time she was in the US, is convinced that this trip across the pond can be more successful. She also performs a weight distribution.
& # 39; We have worked on my strength. I feel really middleweight, "she says. Yes, it is going to be a big challenge.
& # 39; She comes with a big record: two-time Olympic champion, two-world world champion, three belts. It is about what happens when you step into the ring and in the night it will only be me and her. I will be nervous about the ring walk, but I will not be when the bell rings. & # 39; She points out that she is used to giving a performance, being prepared, being alert with bassoon or glove in her hand. & # 39; It's going to be a great fight, she says.
But what about the specific risks for her in the ring? Sure, does she have to worry about damage to her hands or her mouth? & # 39; Not really & # 39 ;, she says. & # 39; My trainer is also a musician, so he knows how to close my hands properly. & # 39;
Her father, Andrew, will be in first place, but Rankin will also feel her mother's presence. & # 39; She was a non-conformist, independent & # 39 ;, she says. & # 39; She fully supported all my decisions. & # 39; The lessons of the ring can be the hardest, but there is a suspicion that Rankin was well prepared for that farm above Loch Lomond.
She is faced on Saturday with the double Olympic-gold medalist Claressa Shields in Mulvane, Kansas
& # 39; We have learned to make our choices and commit to them & # 39 ;, she says. & # 39; If it was something that we wanted to do, we were fully supported. But we were expected to make an effort. It was a case of if you are going to do something, then do it as well as you can, "she says.
This philosophy has brought her to the top of the world in women's boxing. Next Saturday could be a decisive moment. "Yes, it could all change afterwards," she says. There is more than one hint that the project could become financially viable. But Rankin is more for it than just the money.
I love what I do & # 39 ;, she says. I like the idea of being in a ring under an exposure. I believe my mother looks down on me and wants to help me do it right.
& # 39; And I'm pushing that. I want to be world champion. & # 39; Is Kansas about to witness a Caledonian triumphal procession? The odds can be against it.
But who would have ever supported a bassoonist to make beautiful music in the most ruthless arena?
Rankin has on five occasions. She may have just been prepared for an encore.