Professional British boxer Tommy Ward took time out of his busy schedule to speak to academy players of Billingham Synthonia FC last week. Tommy has won the British super bantamweight title, IBF European super bantamweight title, WBA-NABA super bantamweight title and has been tipped by Tyson Fury to become a World Champion.

Tommy Ward
Tommy Ward

Throughout the talk 3 things that Tommy talked about stood out as being integral to his success so far:

  • Bigger Picture
  • Investing in Yourself
  • Neil Fannan
Tommy Ward Champ


Tommy talked about the importance of a positive mindset, a determined mindset and one that always thought about the “bigger picture”. Whatever the sport, whether it is boxing, football or athletics Tommy felt it was important to have a strong mindset that was focused and linked to a long term goal. In his case, to become a World Champion at 2 weights.

From a young age I knew I wanted to be a World Champion.

In addition to this Tommy also felt it was important to be doing something you enjoy. He felt getting enjoyment from his sport was a big part of the reason he has stayed motivated.

Whatever sport you choose, do something you enjoy.


Talking about his progression in boxing Tommy linked it to that of aspiring young footballers who might have set their aspirations on playing in the Premier League or International Football. He suggested they could look at where they are at now and look to progress through the league levels in academy and senior football.

I made decisions in my boxing career that were about the bigger picture and progression as a boxer.

Neil Fannan

The coach, the mentor. Tommy explained the importance of having Neil in his corner during his professional boxing career. The relationship wasn’t just about boxing either, Tommy explained how Neil was a big influence outside of the ring.

Neil is a big influence & a big part of my life.

Tommy talked about how Neil was an excellent mentor who didn’t just focus on supporting him with the technical side of boxing but also with his mindset and life choices. This doesn’t mean Neil is making decisions, what Tommy decides to do is down to him but why wouldn’t he listen to someone with the experience in boxing & life that Neil has!?

Tommy Ward Neil Fannan
Tommy & Neil

Neil has a lot of experience in boxing, including sparring around the world that I can benefit from.

We touched upon the technically side of boxing a little but Tommy was quick to point out that this was only a small part of the sport.

Boxing is 90% mindset. Neil helps me with this but ultimately it is down to me!

Motivation – Track Work / Running

Specifically talking about motivation on fitness schedules outside of the boxing ring / boxing gym Tommy explained what kept him motivated to run hard sessions, especially on the track.

What if my opponent is running & training harder!?

Specifically responding to a question about those hard track sessions Tommy explained why he doesn’t like to let people beat him on the reps he is doing.

That is the boxing mindset, I don’t want to get beat. I want to train harder so I can take that fitness into the ring. I have a fighters mentality.

Having seen Tommy train on the track I can vouch for his desire not to let anyone pass him during each rep.

Turning professional at 17

Like a few footballers that have kindly talked to the academy players, Tommy also made a decision to “invest in himself” at a young age. This included things like not going out drinking when others did, not staying up late, not eating too much junk food etc.

Tommy explained how at 14 he decided he was going to be a professional boxer. It was what he was good at! The initial pathway to this would be the Olympics, then turning professional.

However, something changed. Tommy made the decision to turn professional at 17 rather than enter a cycle of Olympic training.

I decided to turn professional rather than wait. This meant I could get professional boxing fights under my belt at an early age and invest in myself to reach my dream of becoming a World Champion at 2 weight divisions. I have had 29 professional fights and still only 26 so I feel I made the right decision.

Tommy recommended that any young sports person takes time out to look at the “bigger picture” and to “invest in themselves”.


Keeping a good diet is important to Tommy and he explained how after a week of eating poorly he believed anyone would end up performing below normal levels but he was also quick to point out that he has the odd treat.

I eat the right things all week but allow myself a weekly treat.


Tommy was due to fight at Utilita Arena Newcastle in April but due to covid-19 the fight was cancelled. Tommy explained that he has found it relatively easy to keep going during covid-19 due to the “bigger picture”. He is clearly ready for a world title fight and doesn’t want to miss the opportunity to something he can control, which is his fitness.

I have really enjoyed having time to reflect and spend time with my family but I am ready for boxing. I want to get back in the ring.

It was clear that Tommy has been training well during covid-19 and kept himself in good shape.

I want to be in peak fitness. I need to be ready for a world title fight.

What next?

The fight Tommy was due to have in April is now scheduled for the 17th October 2020 against the same opponent at the Utilita Arena Newcastle. It sounds like Tommy is going to be in peak fitness for the fight.

Tommy Ward in the ring
Tommy Ward in action against Alvaro Rodriguez.

On behalf of everyone at Billingham Synthonia FC I wish Tommy all the best for his upcoming fight.


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