Nicola Adams - boxing history-maker's continual rise

Nicola Adams - boxing history-maker's continual rise

14 May 2017 / 13:32

If Nicola Adams had any fears of what would come next after her two Olympic gold medals, then Saturday night undoubtedly proved one thing: she can punch with the best of them in the professional ring.  

On a homecoming to savour, the 34-year-old returned to Leeds and secured her very first professional knockout, stopping Mexican teenager Maryan Salazar in the third round.

But for Adams, that was just the latest step on her magnificent rise, with this achievement coming less than five years since making history as the first Olympic women's boxing gold medallist in history at London 2012.

Since then she has also tasted Commonwealth glory – in the flyweight division at Glasgow 2014 – all before becoming the first British boxer in 92 years to retain an Olympic title at Rio 2016.
Nicola Adams

But it was only as recently as January that Adams turned professional, now sitting with two wins to her name after opening her account with a points victory over Virginia Carcamo of Argentina.

How we got here

"I'm so delighted for her as I knew the crowd would support her here," said Dee Otley-Adams, the boxer’s mother, after Saturday’s victory

For large parts, if not all, of Adams’ 20-year career, Otley-Adams has been among those in her figurative corner as her daughter has blazed a trail through boxing history.
Nicola Adams

It all started back in 1997, fighting and winning her first bout at just 13 in a working men’s club, though it was four years until a second opponent was to be forthcoming.

But even as early as 2001 Adams was making history, becoming the first female boxer to represent England while two years later she became the national amateur champion for the first time – a title she was to retain at the next three Championships.

More history followed as it became clear Adams was destined for greatness – becoming the first English female to medal in a major tournament by claiming bantamweight silver at the 2007 European Championships before also finishing second at the Worlds in China a year later.
Nicola Adams

Yorkshire’s favourite daughter had a brief pit-stop where she worked as a builder and an acting extra on soap operas such as Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Eastenders but fully funded once more, she took silver at the 2010 World Championships and gold at the European Union Amateur Boxing Champs in Katowice 12 months later to set her up perfectly for a tilt at Olympic glory.

Olympic icon

Women’s boxing made its Olympic bow at London 2012 and, fittingly, the first gold medal in the sport went to a home fighter.

Adams had defeated Indian pugilist Mary Kom in the flyweight semi-finals and world No.1 Ren Cancan of China – who had beaten her in the World Championship finals in 2010 and 2012 – was similarly dispatched in the gold medal bout, as she cruised to a 16-7 victory.

"It's a dream come true," said Adams afterwards. "I am so happy and overwhelmed with joy right now.

“I have wanted this all my life and I have done it. To be taking the gold medal back to Leeds will be special."

Commonwealth gold followed in Glasgow in 2014 as Adams was awarded a split decision over Northern Ireland’s Michaela Walsh and the last amateur mountain to conquer was a defence of her Olympic gold in Rio.

By this point, it had long since become a fool’s game to back against Adams and after a slight wobble in the first round against Tetyana Kob of Ukraine, she reached the flyweight final to face Sarah Ourahmoune of France.

And the Team GB star made got the unanimous verdict following a tigerish performance, before celebrating becoming the first British boxer to defend an Olympic crown since Harry Mallin in 1924 with an Ali Shuffle.

“The gold rush continues,” said Adams after the final. “I can't believe it I am now officially our most accomplished amateur boxer ever and it is such an amazing feeling. I've made history!

“I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me, my mum and my brother, my coach and all my fans, it's been amazing. We made it! 

“It is well up there (compared with London). They are both on the same level. It takes a lot to win an Olympic medal, especially to win it twice, and I would just like to thank everybody.”

Adams in her own words:

A move to the pro ranks quickly followed Rio success and after a points win over Carcamo following four, two-minute rounds on her debut, Adams dispatched Salazar by knockout on Saturday – and believes the move to three-minute rounds was crucial.

“I was not even thinking about the stoppage, but with the three-minute rounds I knew I could,” she explained.

“I was able to settle more, I could see where I was throwing the punches and landing the power shots.

“I loved every minute of it. The crowd were pumping me up. The more they were cheering, the more I was throwing.

“The atmosphere was great. I knew I’d get a great reception because we are in Leeds. I’ve been dreaming about this moment for a long time and to walk in to the crowd chanting ‘Yorkshire’ was a great feeling.”

Sportsbeat 2017

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