From boxing to the ballroom, Nicola Adams continues to make history

Nicola Adams will become the first celebrity to feature on Strictly Come Dancing with a same sex partner - the opening show begins on October 24 and will run for nine weeks.

You could be fooled by the funky personality and uplifting smile which could light a room by Nicola Adams. A double-Olympic champion - who also achieved a professional world title - was rewarded for her outstanding accomplishments in the Summer Games with a golden post box in her hometown of Leeds and is a celebrated figure amongst the boxing fraternity. To add to her career as an athlete, Adams is set to feature on BBC's popular reality show Strictly Come Dancing

But, behind her smile are scars from her childhood - the type of experiences which made her an inspiration to millions of the LGBTQ+ community. Life has not been easy for Adams. Growing up, Adams struggled with several allergies including asthma and eczema.

To prevent Adams from scratching to remaining layers of skin from her body, Dee - her mother - would send her to bed wearing gloves. Adams does not remain in contact with her father, who domestically abused her mother and Adams herself, who admitted she "got the odd slap" for trying to protect Dee from being hit.

The physical abuse they both received was around the same time Adams got into boxing. Working two jobs as a single mother to afford food for Nicola, Dee was unable to arrange childcare for Nicola so she took her to an aerobics gym class. By pure chance, there was a boxing class going on next door at the gym, something Nicola liked the look of and chose to participate in to pass time.

As they say, the rest is history - well, kind of.Adams was forced to break multiple barriers to get into the position she is in today. When we take a look back into the history of female boxing it goes way back into the 18th Century. Aside from a demonstration bout in 1904, female boxers would have to wait for their chance to shine on the biggest stage at amateur level until the 2012 Olympic Games in London - the year in which Adams became the first woman to win a gold medal at the flyweight category.

'Tough to retire but I'm very content'

It took England 100 years to change their rules on licensing female's boxing after previously banning it because of health concerns over believing it would have a significant impact on the premenstrual cycle which would leave women mentally and physically unstable. In 1996, the Amateur Boxing Association of England voted to allow girls under the age of 10 to enter gyms and spar. Jane Couch was the first officially licensed British female fighter in 1998 and paved the way for the likes of Adams and now Katie Taylor to fight on the world stage.

"The Fleetwood Assassin" was originally rejected for a British Boxing License because of being a woman, only for it to get overturned by a tribunal. She is a former five-time world titlist and is now a promoter in her own name. Adams had her first amateur fight in 1997 but would have to wait another four years to fight again because of there being no girls to fight.

In the same year, whilst trying to look after Dee who had contracted meningitis and was fighting for her life, Adams was told she had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Physical Education was where Adams succeeded in high school, becoming a talented sprinter in athletics - despite being advised against running at the age of 5 by her doctor because of her asthma condition.

Nicola Adams made history by becoming the first English female fighter to win an Olympic gold medal in 2012 before repeating the achievement in 2016
Nicola Adams made history by becoming the first English female fighter to win an Olympic gold medal in 2012 before repeating the achievement in 2016

In 2001, she became the first woman to represent England and in 2003 at the age of 20 she won the English Amateur title. More accolades soon followed, this time with Team GB. Her incredible medal haul included golds at the Commonwealth, European, World and Olympic Games. She dedicated her 2012 London triumph to her mother, who still suffers side effects from meningitis. Adams left the amateur circuit with another gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

A brief career on the professional circuit with promoter Frank Warren saw Adams become WBO flyweight world champion before retiring after being told she would have permanent vision loss if she continued.

It is not just her craft inside the ring we should be celebrating.

In 2013, the former boxer was voted by Pink List as the most inspirational role model for women, aspiring athletes and members of the LGBTQ+ community. In the same year, she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the new year services to boxing and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2017.

Adams continues to break barriers with her latest venture seeing her become the first celebrity to feature on Strictly Come Dancing with a same sex partner. Swapping the ring for the ballroom should not be a problem for Nicola, judging by her footwork inside the ropes.

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