In this series, we are going to be looking at some of the top athletes in their sports and the journey they took to get there. The series will also consider their top achievements and success outside of their athletic journeys. This article will be looking at British boxer, Nicola Adams. 


Nicola Adams’s boxing career was truly breath taking. Her boxing journey began at age 11 when she first visited a gym and took part in a boxing session. The desire and passion to compete were there from the start and a year later she took part in and won her first boxing match. Adams spent the next few years training until she had her second fight, scoring a second-round knockout.   

The talent she possessed in the ring, allowed her to compete at an England selection camp, where she made the England women’s boxing team. With the help of a dedicated team behind her, Adams became the first-ever female boxer to represent the country. In 2003 she became English amateur champion and was able to hold her title for the next three years. She continued to compete and took silver at the 2007 European championship and 2008 World championships. It was at this time that Adams suffered an injury to her back, forcing a break from competition. She returned in 2010 and received a silver medal in the world championships. The same year she won the first-ever GB amateur boxing championship. The following year she won gold at the European Union Amateur boxing championships. 

Despite her highly successful career, Nicola’s real breakout moment was at the 2012 London Olympics. For the first time in history, the Olympics was set to feature women’s boxing. Nicola had been highlighted as one of the ones to watch and didn’t disappoint, taking home the gold medal against the world number one, Ren Cancan. This was the moment that cemented Adam’s legacy as one of the greatest ever female boxers. She finished out her amateur career by winning the 2014 Commonwealth games, beating Northern Irish fighter, Michaela Walsh. She then defended her title as Olympic champion in the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

With a glistening amateur career behind her, Adams moved into the pro ranks. Her pro-debut came in 2017, where she secured a win via points decision. She went on to win her next three bouts, all by technical knockout. Her next fight saw her capture the WBO interim title against Isabel Millan in dominating fashion. Her final pro fight saw Adams retain her title through a split draw. However, during the fight Adams suffered a torn pupil which put an end to her professional career. She finished her career having achieved so much and describe herself as having immense pride at being able to represent her county, as well as capturing a WBO title. 

Perseverance outside the ring 

Success hasn’t come easy for Adams. In her early years, she was subject to abuse, inflicted by her father. She witnessed first hand the abuse that her mother suffered by violent men. It was to the extent that she slept with a hammer under her bed to protect herself and her mother. Boxing provided a safe haven and escape from the at-home abuse. She describes the ring as being a place where she developed bravery and dealt with issues that had been troubling her. 

There was very little in the way of support for Nicolas’s boxing career. This was a time in which there was no funding or pathways for female boxers. Nicola worked several other jobs to help pay for living and training, such as roles on Coronation Street, Emmerdale, and Eastenders. Nicola is in many ways a pioneer of female boxing. Through her achievements, she has created a pathway for young British female fighters to receive support where there previously was none. 

Finally, Nicola is the first female boxer to win the Olympics and be openly part of the LGBT+ community. She is a role model and hero, not only for her boxing pursuits but also for her bravery in telling a boxing world that is not known for its LGBT+ alliance, who she truly is. 

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