Sky Academy Sports Scholarships: Savannah Marshall aims for confidence boost with Adam Smith as her mentor

By Sam Drury - Follow on Twitter

Last Updated: 26/03/2017, 15:05 GMT

In a year in which European, World and Commonwealth medals are up for grabs, any athlete could be forgiven for getting slightly carried away and considering the possibility of a clean sweep, especially someone likely to go into each competition as one of the favourites for gold.

However, when Savannah Marshall says, 'I’m taking each one as it comes, I’ve never been one for looking too far ahead into the future. I prefer to just take each day as it comes', you are inclined to believe that is exactly what she’s doing.

I really believe she can go on to great achievements, win great medals – I think she can go on and get gold in Rio
Adam Smith on Savannah Marshall

The Hartlepool boxer and reigning middleweight world champion is as down to earth as she is talented and with the European Championships in Romania at the end of the month, her focus is on ensuring she is in top condition having spent the past few months recovering after surgery on an injured shoulder.

“My shoulder is coming along really well. I’m back sparring, I’m back in full training so I’m really happy with it,” said Marshall.

“I’m going to France next week for a pre-training camp and then seeing how I go from there.”

Marshall has always done her talking in the ring and her shyness with the media in the past led to her being labelled 'The Silent Assassin’ by the local press. However, with the help of Adam Smith, presenter of Sky Sports boxing show Ringside and Marshall’s new Sky mentor, she hopes that can change.

“Hopefully I can gain a lot of confidence out of the ring, especially in terms of the media,” she said of how she could benefit from the link with Smith.

“I’m getting a lot more used to it, I still get a little bit nervous but nowhere near as much as before. Now it’s starting to get to the point where I look forward to it, whereas before I used to dread the cameras coming and doing interviews.”

For his part, Smith is keen to help out in any way he can and is confident that his mentee can go on to achieve big things in the coming years.

“I’m really excited about working with Savannah, I’ve met her a few times in the past and I know how good she is in the ring,” he said.

“As a Sky Academy Sports Scholar we’re right behind her and want to try and build up that confidence outside the ring so that when she goes into the ring she feels as though she can do anything – she can be relaxed, she can use her boxing skills and she’s got nothing to worry about.

“Then when she comes out of the ring and she deals with the media she’s happier with what she’s saying.

“I really believe she can go on to great achievements, win great medals – I think she can go on and get gold in Rio – but I just want to make sure she’s in the right place to go and do that.

“Anything that we can do from our point of view in the TV and media side, I want to do that. I see it as a fantastic project because she’s class.”

It is not only the media that Marshall must deal with outside the ring. The lifestyle of a young boxer is rather different to that of the average 22-year-old, but nowadays Marshall is very much at ease with her situation.

“It doesn’t bother me now,” she shrugged. “A few years ago it used to, especially when I was about 18 or 19 but I’ve done all that where I’ve been out on a Saturday night and had to train on a Sunday and it’s been the worst feeling ever.

Now it’s starting to get to the point where I look forward to it, whereas before I used to dread the cameras coming and doing interviews
Savannah Marshall

“That feeling on the Sunday morning, it wasn’t worth going out on a Saturday night! So it doesn’t really bother me, I’d rather feel fresh on a Sunday than go out on a Saturday.”

The mentor-mentee relationship works both ways according to Smith and it is that commitment and desire that he believes he can glean from the GB fighter.

“I think it works both ways, doesn’t it? I think it’s terrific that we’ve got Scholars that we can be proud of and watch their progress,” he added.

“I can learn dedication, structure, the fact that she has put absolutely everything into this. I think it shows immense self-belief and confidence.

“I want to bring out her inner confidence because there’s confidence in there already to be able to go into a ring and do what she does, the dedication coming down here three or four times a week and then going back to Hartlepool and doing her training.

“It’s a very, very tough life being a boxer and I think that she should really understand what she’s doing already for that.”

The rewards for living such a life come in the winning of titles and medals so when Marshall exited at the quarter-final stage of the London Olympics in 2012, the disappointment was immense.

However, two years on with another major championship to look forward to in Britain, Marshall is aiming to make amends.

“I’m looking at it as a bit like London, I know it won’t be as big, but I’ve got a few demons from London and I’m hoping to get shot of them!” she said of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Marshall knows that the best way to do that is to return to Hartlepool with the gold medal but, before that, there is the small matter of the European Championships and you can rest assured that ‘The Silent Assassin’ will be out to make her mark in Romania.

Only then will her attention turn to slaying demons in Glasgow.