‘I have protected Queen and Biden – but unlikely star was the hardest job ever’
A close protection operative who has safeguarded the most powerful people on the planet said it was unlikely stars who gave him his toughest assignment yet.
Ryan Barby, 35, served in Afghanistan before later becoming a celebrity bodyguard and an MMA fighter.
In recent years he has supported the American Secret Service during Joe Biden’s visit to Edinburgh as well as assisting at the Queen’s Jubilee and later her funeral.
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He also works with A-listers on the red carpet – but his most chaotic experience came from looking after K-pop stars.
The hardman, who joined the army aged 16 before serving seven years, told Daily Star: “The worst one we ever did, for when it was really crazy, was a job we did for K-pop Stars.
“That was literally by far the hardest, people were going mad for them.
“They were literally being swarmed, I have never seen anything like it.
“You look after anyone in the UK or America or whatever but as soon as it hit K-pop it was a whole different level with fans, they were fanatic.
“As soon as they saw them it was a stampede, they were running towards them with their cameras.
“Normally once people get a photo with a celebrity they are happy to go but these people followed us the whole way.
“It was a swarm of people following you anywhere you went. It was non stop and it was when they played in Wembley Stadium.
“We had to get from the airport and from hotels etc but the fans just stayed all day, it was mental.
“At one point we couldn’t get them in a vehicle and it was one of the few times we had to push people back and stuff.
“It is quite tricky as well because a lot of their fans are 15-year-old girls.
“I have been doing MMA since I was a kid and I can’t be shoving people, they will fall down and I can’t have that online.
“You have to be really careful, one mistake and it is straight on Snapchat or Facebook.”
But Ryan, from Nottingham, said he relishes his role as a close protection operative.
And although he has worked with the world’s biggest names, for him, that’s the least exciting part of what he does for a living.
Giving us an insight into what his exciting career involves, the father said: “Being a close protection operative is not about winning the fight, it is about never getting into the fight.
“We are always avoiding it. You are always learning and there is no right or wrong way of doing it.
“I love the tactics side of it and when we worked the Queen’s funeral there were different teams and nations so you get to learn new things.
“And when Biden was over we were attached to and assisting the Secret Service and in my line of business that is like winning the World Cup.
“You just never thought they would give me that opportunity.”
As for the famous faces he has dealt with, Ryan said: “I don’t get starstruck and I would just rather do the job.
“I am only interested in the job and tactics.
“I am quite blessed because with the music stars and film stars, on a personal level, as I have never been been to a festival.
“So when I am chilling I don’t really listen to music so I am not really into that, I am more a massive boxing and MMA fan.
“So when it comes to that, the biggest boyband could be in the room with me and I am not fazed because it is just not my thing.
“I am more interested in the job rather than meeting them. Me and my team don’t really speak to them because you want to be in the background and you want to interact with them as little as possible and not be seen.
“I get more of a buzz learning from ex-SAS guys who are teaching me than I would from standing next to Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I would never talk about a client's personal life and from my experience there is no book or lesson, they don’t really get taught how to handle fame themselves.
“They are figuring it out too.”
He added: “99% of fans who come up are friendly and just want a photo and there is no danger really but the only problem we have as a team is we don’t know the good guys from the bad guys.
“Anyone could be a bad guy and the biggest threat is stalkers.
“We have escape routes always planned out and we stay away from anyone who is a threat.
“We always get told that the best thing you can do is the right thing. The second best thing you can do is the wrong thing.
“But the worst thing you can do is not nothing.
“So if you thought someone was a threat but you wait to see what he does, and then something does happen, you are in trouble.
“So you are better off making a mistake and saying sorry and being a bit embarrassed. Sometimes it is better to act rather than being safe and sorry.
“The person you are protecting, their safety is your priority.”
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