THERE are few acts braver than a boxer willingly stepping into the ring knowing the physical ordeal that lies ahead.
Even that pales into insignificance, however, compared to the bottle needed for a teenage girl to wander alone into a gym in Glasgow and insist she wants to fight with the boys.
Cassidy Todd has not only done that but survived and thrived. The 22-year-old has now made history by becoming the first woman to sign with the renowned St Andrew’s Sporting Club, making her also the first Glaswegian female professional boxer.
Turning pro marks the midpoint of a career that began with her “getting a doing” from battle-hardened men during sparring sessions and that will, all being well, eventually lead to her becoming a world champion Todd’s is a heart-warming story of persistence and courage. Her step-dad is Craig Docherty, the former Commonwealth champion, but when she turned up unannounced at the door of Kelvin ABC gym in Govanhill as a 16-year-old there was nobody there to hold her hand.
“There wasn’t really anyone that got me into boxing,” she says. “I just wanted to try it myself. I was staying in Govanhill so I just went down to the Kelvin one day and fell in love with it.
“But it took a bit of bottle to go that first time. The guy looked a bit confused and asked why I was there. He was saying it wasn’t for girls. I think he was winding me up a wee bit! But I just stuck at it.
“Later on I moved to Hayfield gym with Joe Ham and all the pros he works with. They saw me just as another boxer and not as a girl and that really toughened me up.
“They would go full pelt and I got a few doings off them! Going there was the most intimidating experience as I knew they were all pros and older than me. But I got accepted and they became my friends.”
Todd’s finishing school, however, was the world famous Gleason’s Gym in New York where a one-off session while on holiday led to a three-month training stint.
“I went just for the one day and the guy who was working with me on the pads, Don Saxby, was impressed and asked me to go back,” she says.
“And I ended up training there every day of my holiday. The owner came over and said he’d heard about me and that I was going to be a future world champion.
“I went home and managed to raise sponsorship to go back over. I was there for three months, sparring with world champions. It was an incredible experience. I had thought about going there to turn pro but came home and ended up signing with Iain Wilson at St Andrew’s instead.
“But I’ve made connections in New York so if I ever go back then I’m sure they’ll help me with sparring or even getting me on cards.”
Todd hopes to make her professional debut this year but accepts that she has made history even before she steps foot in the ring.
“I feel like I’m breaking barriers,” she adds. “It was only recently, when Iain took over, that women were even allowed to spectate at the St Andrew’s shows. Before that it was a black-tie event just for men.
“So to be the first woman to box for the club will be really special. I’d imagine a lot of the men watching will still be quite old school and thinking ‘why is there a burd fighting’?
“But I’m looking forward to proving people wrong and that women can be just as good in the ring.
“I’m honoured at the thought of becoming a role model. There are only maybe five professional boxers in the whole country and I’m the first from Glasgow. I’m still young at only 22 so I’ve got a lot ahead of me.”
Among the first to congratulate Todd on turning pro was Hannah Rankin, the Luss boxer who in 2019 became Scotland’s first female world champion. And now the latest addition to the pro ranks wants to scale those same heights.
“That was really nice to get that message from Hannah as she has done well,” adds the Kris McAdam-trained fighter.
“I’m looking forward to following in her footsteps and I’m confident that I can. I’m determined to become a world champion and one of the best boxers to come out of Scotland – not just the best female.
“I don’t want folk to be saying, ‘she’s not bad for a girl’. I want to be one of those names that, whenever people are talking about Scottish boxing greats, my name comes up. That’s my goal.”