John Ryder has been earmarked to succeed Tony Sims as the head trainer of the Matchroom Elite Boxing Gym.

Since his retirement in January, Ryder, 35, has been working under the respected Sims at his gym in Essex and most recently undertook his course to earn a licence to join the trainer in the corner on fight nights.

Sims recognises that he is nearing the conclusion of a successful career in which he guided Darren Barker, Anthony Joshua and Joe Cordina to world titles and inspired the finest performances in the careers of Ryder, Kevin Mitchell – until recently his assistant trainer – and more.

Mitchell has chosen to pursue his ambition of being a lead trainer and Sims, similarly, is planning for the long term. The strength of his relationship with Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn has contributed to his son Charlie, a manager, taking on the project of running on behalf of the promoter the Churchill Boxing Club in Los Angeles. There will also eventually be the responsibility of Tony Sims’ gym near Matchroom’s headquarters in Brentwood, which Ryder – who Sims has high hopes for as a trainer – will have the opportunity to assume.

“John’s come along, and retired,” the trainer said. “I’m working on my own in the gym, and I said to him about becoming my assistant, and eventually… we all retire, don’t we? This is my 27th year training fighters. I’m not thinking of retirement yet, but in 10 years’ time I ain’t gonna be training fighters still. I’m hoping John can stay with me instead of moving on; be my assistant, and eventually take over the reins of the gym.

“Kevin was under my wing as my assistant. I’ve had quite a few assistants, and what always happens is you have them under your wing for a couple of years, and then they want to do their own thing; train their own fighters. I respect that, because I was the same. I watch Shane McGuigan with Josh Pritchard, and Barry Smith with Ben Davison – you get certain people that are fine with being the assistant trainer. It becomes their duty and they enjoy doing that. But then you get other people, and I was one of them, who think, ‘I’ve learned quite a lot in the last couple of years and I want to move on to do my own thing’, and that’s what Kevin said to me – and that’s fine. Absolutely fine.

“My son [Charlie] is managing fighters. He’s John’s age; I’m not gonna be around forever, so I want my son to keep managing fighters, and John will be the perfect successor to me. We’ll see. Some people do it for a couple of years and think, ‘You know what? I don’t want to be an assistant anymore – I want to be a main trainer’.”

There are a limited number of successful retired fighters who were similarly successful as trainers. Ryder retired having competed at the highest level against the great Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in 2023, and Sims said: “I was listening to Roy Jones Jr on Talksport, and he was asked a really good question. ‘What makes you think you’ll be a good trainer after becoming one of the all-time great fighters, because a lot of great fighters never become great trainers?’ Roy Jones had a good answer. ‘Having patience with fighters.’ I think that’s the main attribute to being a good trainer. 

“You’ve got to have the patience. Every single fighter that you train is different in style; their make-up; who they are; everyone’s an individual. Some fighters need a lot more coaching than others in different departments. Some are naturally gifted, but they’ve got no confidence in themselves, or they don’t want to train hard, or they don’t live the life right outside the gyms. It’s not just about being in the gym; coaching the fighter. You’ve got to nurture them, and you’ve got to be patient in what you’re doing with them. 

“You’ll get kids that have every good attribute about them but are not gifted; that’s patience in itself. You’ll get a puncher who can’t box, so you’ve got to be really patient in what you’re doing with them. Really nurture them; make sure the information you’re giving them is downloading. Some of them take a lot longer than others – it’s no good trying to think you want them to be ‘ABC’ straight away. 

“The patience is the main attribute to being a good trainer, and knowing what you’re telling them and that they believe in you and what you’re telling them, and belief is a big makeup between the trainer and the fighter. If the fighter believes everything you’re saying and can work on that and learn that and bring that out, that will work. 

“John has got attributes of the patience. He can intertwine with fighters – he knows where they’re coming from, and they believe in him, and that’s why I believe John will eventually be a top coach.”

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