Nicola Adams: ‘I wish I’d told Muhammad Ali he was the reason I wanted to win gold’
The double Olympic champion Nicola Adams, who blazed a golden and historic trail for women in boxing, has announced her retirement after being told she risks losing her eyesight if she continues in the ring.
The 37-year-old, who also won the WBO flyweight world title after turning professional following her gold medals at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, said she had no regrets despite the impact the sport has had on her health.
“I’m immensely honoured to have represented our country – to win double Olympic gold medals and then the WBO championship belt is a dream come true,” Adams wrote in an open letter to the Yorkshire Evening Post in which revealed her decision. “But it’s not without taking its toll on my body, and aside from the expected aches and pains, I’ve been advised that any further impact to my eye would most likely lead to irreparable damage and permanent vision loss.
“It has been an honour to compete on the global stage, and it has been a privilege to fight against such remarkable athletes. Whilst I am proud of my achievements, the unwavering belief from everyone in my corner, is something I will appreciate for the rest of my life.”
She also paid tribute to her coach and mentor Alwyn Belcher, who guided her from raw youth to polished champion, and told her in her early 20s that she would be a world champion. “Hanging up my gloves was always going to hard, but I have never felt luckier,” she added. “And I’m so immensely proud of how far the sport has come.”
Adams will go down as one of the sport’s true pioneers given the glass ceilings she punched through and the seismic shifts in attitudes to women’s boxing she helped engender during her career.
When she took up the sport aged 12 in 1995, the British Amateur Boxing Association did not allow women to take part in sanctioned bouts – the rules only changed in 1997 – and women’s boxing was not in the Olympics.
It took four years for Adams to have her first official fight, yet just two years later she become the first women boxer ever to represent England. It was the first of many ground-breaking achievements.
More information: The Guardian / Sport.