Lioness: The Nicola Adams Story (2021) Movie Script

Ladies and
gentlemen, bout number six
is our senior female contest
of three by two minute rounds.
It is one of the star
attractions of this evening.
It's between and introducing,
in the red corner
from the Arrow Amateur
Boxing Club, Michaela!
In the blue corner, from
the East Leeds Amateur
Boxing Club,
Nicola Adams!
-Come on, Nikki!
When I was a kid,
I was happy
just looking at the stars...
thinking about my destiny...
If I had a destiny.
Can your destiny be changed?
I even used to make wishes
and wished that one day
I'll be able to
be in a better place
and have everything
that I've always wanted.
If you haven't come from
the kind of place
that I come from,
you'll never be able to get to
that top high level,
because you just haven't got
that kind of desire
and that drive
and determination.
You need to have
that hunger.
And it is really,
it's just about
how much do you want it?
I was fighting for
And I think that was
the difference between me
and anybody else
that was in the ring.
I always wanted it more
than anybody else did.
I was fighting to survive.
Round one.
What do you think
about women in boxing?
Well, I think
they're very nice when
they're walking around that
ring, holding them cards.
Why can't they do
something else that ladies do?
That girls do?
I really am
against women boxing.
I've had torn eyes
and busted nose
and you wake up the next day
and you're aching
and I just don't think a woman
should put herself through
They don't understand,
they're never gonna achieve
the heights that men achieve.
I don't like watching
women punching each other.
It'll never be
mainstream boxing.
It will always be
a novelty value.
And the novelty will wear off
at the end of the day.
Women are not men,
and they just won't have
the same attraction
as men fighting.
In 1994,
women's professional boxing
had been banned
and there was no such thing
as female amateur boxing.
It just wasn't allowed.
The majority of coaches
wouldn't allow girls to train.
Or even in the gym.
The Yorkshire Division
in particular were run by
and steelworkers
from South Yorkshire
and they were dead set
against any women
being involved in boxing.
They were encouraged to
stay at home and cook meals
for the lads when they
got home from work.
And that's their exact words.
I first started boxing
when I was 12.
My mum couldn't get
a babysitter one night
and she took me
and my brother down to
an after-school boxing class
that they had on
at the same time
as her aerobics.
There wasn't any other girls
in the boxing gym.
It was just me.
And when I saw everybody
running around the gym
and all the kids on the bags
and the pads
and people sparring
in the ring,
I just absolutely loved it.
There was no
female boxers on TV.
The only women in the ring
were the ring card girls.
I wasn't aware
that women didn't box.
I just loved watching boxing.
She told me she wanted
to be world champion.
I didn't tell her she couldn't.
I was born in Leeds in 1982.
My parents were from
the Caribbean,
which was very rare
at the time in Leeds.
When I was a kid, I was
really, really sensitive.
I was a little bit of a geek.
I had eczema and I had asthma
and I was pretty much allergic
to the whole world.
I was real kind of soft.
Like I'd have never have
stood up for myself
or anything.
I should have been doomed.
I grew up in an estate
called East End Park.
Me and my friends,
we didn't have money
growing up.
And a lot of the time,
we wouldn't be able to eat.
Some of the times,
we were just bad
but a lot of the time,
we did stuff
because we were just hungry.
These was kids there
that my mum'd say
you're not allowed to
hang about with.
And it was the same
for me as well.
Their parents used to say,
"You can't hang about
with Nicola. She's bad."
But we were just
all in the same situation.
We all had the same struggle.
I could've easily
gone down a different path.
On my estate, there was
a lot of racism as well.
There wasn't many Black people
or people of color.
you would get into quite a few
fights just because of that.
And I remember going home
and saying to my mum, like,
"Why do the kids
call me these names?"
I came out to my mum
when I was 13.
And it was the scariest thing
that I've ever done.
I thought I was
gonna be disowned
or kicked out
of the house.
So I was so relieved and happy
when she said that she'd known
for a long time anyway.
I always knew I was different
from a young age,
but boxing gave me the place
that I could really belong.
At the gym, Steve never made
me feel any different.
He said to me,
"I have one rule--
everybody listens to me
and we're all boxers."
No, no favouritism.
No, or because she's a girl.
She did everything
that they did.
Sometimes she liked it,
just got on with it,
sometimes she didn't.
Boxing has produced
many champions...
My dad was a boxing
fan and I used to watch
the boxing with him.
It was probably one of
the times when he was
at his happiest.
We'd watch the reruns of...
Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson,
Sugar Ray Robinson.
he didn't support
my boxing at all.
The boxing ring
was less dangerous
than being at home.
I was very desensitised
to all kinds of violence
because I used to see it
all the time at home.
Nikki's witnessed a lot of
violence in her life.
From the moment she got
into the gym
and started boxing
at a very young age,
it was one of the aspects
she was able to control.
You could always tell when
there was something wrong
with Nicola,
because she was a happy
smiling kid most of the time.
Apart from if there'd been
a problem or something
had happened at home.
And she'd come in
with her head down.
Boxing always made me
feel safe.
I feel like literally
as soon as I was born,
I just had to rely on myself.
So that's probably why
I only trust myself.
Come on, Nicola!
My first fight was
when I was 13 years old
against a girl called
Clare Newton
in a working men's club
in Leeds.
Real old school.
Had great atmosphere.
I remember running around
and the coach telling me
to sit down and relax
and not to use
too much energy.
But I was so excited.
It was my first boxing match
and I just couldn't wait
to get in there.
With all the noise
and the cheering and shouting
and screaming
and bawling going on,
it's a lot for
a kid to take in.
She were nervous at first.
It took her maybe 30 seconds
to actually settle down
and do what she could do.
I remember going into
the ring and thinking to
"I'm going to do
the Ali shuffle.
I'm gonna switch here.
I'm gonna do all these little
moves in the ring and..."
I absolutely,
absolutely loved it.
There's some kids at that age
that are clumsy on their feet
and some are pretty nimble.
You know, like the difference
between ballet dancing
and clog dancing.
And she were definitely
a ballet dancer.
Come on, Nikki!
Go for it girl! Whoo!
She wanted to be a boxer.
Regardless male or female,
she just wanted to be a boxer.
You've gotta live and breathe
boxing if you're gonna make it
to the top.
Without a doubt.
And Nicola has--has that.
You know, Nikki really, really
lived and breathed for boxing.
Chin up. Okay?
You can relax now...
When we first started boxing,
to find an opponent to be
your age and weight was
impossible as a female boxer.
To the point where, you know,
sometimes you'd only have
one bout a year.
Maybe two bouts a year
if you were really lucky.
No other gyms in Leeds
and the surrounding area
had girls training
at that particular time.
They didn't want them
in the gym,
let alone training.
I were contacting people
from Bristol ...
and Cornwall. London.
Did they know anybody who had
female boxers in the gym?
There'd be ones
that'd come up,
but then we'd find out
they'd be...
too old or too heavy.
All the guys were able to
fight because there was
a lot more
male boxers out there.
Some of the boys would be
going out boxing 7 years old.
So to keep me occupied
and keep me focused,
if the guys went on
training camps or anything,
I'd go as well, to be able
to participate and join in
and just to be able to
feel a part of something.
She were ready to box anytime.
If somebody had
come out of the crowd
and offered her a fight,
she'd have jumped in ring.
It was really tough,
going to support the guys
and not being able to
get in the ring myself.
And every day,
I'd be saying to Steve,
"Oh, is there anybody
for me to box?
When can I fight?"
And he's like,
"You'll just have to wait."
I found it hard trying
to keep her interested
and keep her going.
I couldn't give her
a target date,
like I could with
other boxers.
It did get really
frustrating at times
because I just wanted to
go out there and compete.
Finally at 17,
I got my second fight.
I was super happy.
It had been maybe four-five
years since I last fought.
And I'd just been waiting
all that time to box.
And in the blue corner,
Nicola Adams.
East Leeds
Champion Boxing Club.
Thank you.
I was speaking to
a coach before I boxed
and he was like, "Oh,
there's women boxing tonight."
And I was like,
"Yeah, that's me."
And he was like,
"Oh, why--why do you
wanna box?
Like, women--
women shouldn't box."
And I remember
thinking to myself,
"I'll show you,
I'll show you what we can do."
I got into the ring
and boxed this girl.
Won by a knockout.
And I think that was
just purely because
I'd been waiting for so long.
Winner by KO,
Adams in the blue corner!
Let's hear a nice round of
applause now for Jamie then.
When I met Nikki,
I was 17.
She was just about to turn 19.
She was working in a warehouse
at the time, then she was like,
"Oh I'm a boxer."
And I was like, "Oh, okay,"
That's quite-- quite strange
for that time.
She was training
five days a week.
We'd go out
and there'd be like,
"Right, I can only have
this much to drink.
Like, I have to stop here."
And I remember thinking
that at the time,
especially around
that age, like,
"Oh, she's really
serious about this."
The training session
would happen
and we'd all be involved
in this group session.
And then afterwards,
she'd be over in the mirror
looking at herself,
watching herself.
Watching the angle
that she's moving,
her foot movement.
She'd be doing extra--
extra little bits.
She'd always be
practising Ali shuffle.
Be practising
a special combination
that she's gonna do
in a tournament.
She would just literally
perfect everything.
I don't think
she finds it easy
to quiet her mind.
I think it's always active.
And she likes to keep
really busy.
Her ADHD is...
very noticeable if you spend
more than ten minutes with her.
We used to train
three times a day.
So probably when you weren't
training, you were eating.
If you weren't eating,
you were sleeping.
But Nikki never slept.
That was the thing.
She was either...
banging about downstairs,
had her music blasting.
She just could...
never switch it off.
Nicola was very competitive.
She had a bit of a war
with one of the traveller boys
that we used to train.
She caught him
with a good shot.
He didn't like it so he--
he gave her a decent shot
and it hurt her.
She went to war
and just beat him up.
And put him through
the ropes, out of the ring.
I'd met somebody
for the first time
who had ambition and drive.
Even at that young age,
you could see that she
wanted to be somewhere else.
Nicola's coach contacted me
and he'd heard I was
gonna go to a tournament,
which was in Hungary.
And I said,
"Yeah, I'd take her"
if they paid
all their side of it,
'cause we had to finance
everything ourselves.
We were getting
no support from nobody.
When we actually got there,
we didn't really know what
the standard
was gonna be like,
because Nicola and Amanda
had only had
a few competitions.
They'd never boxed
We were boxing like
the European champions,
the reigning champions.
We were boxing girls
that had had, you know,
50, 60, 70, 80, 100 plus bouts.
Teams like Russia and USA
and China were already
training full-time.
They've already got
so many coaching staff
and we didn't have
anything of that.
It was just me,
Amanda and Paul.
It was like we were here
and they were there.
When I was warming her up,
she'd gone from this bubbly,
"Oh, let me get in there,"
to basically nearly
a nervous wreck.
You know,
she's absolutely flappin'.
That was the weakest
part of Nicola.
The confidence.
She needed
her confidence building.
But once she got in that ring,
and that bell went,
all changed.
Then you could see her.
Keep it up, Nikki!
That's perfect!
There were no such thing
as an easy fight in boxing.
You've got to conquer
your own demons
before you get in.
Boxing's definitely 60/40.
60 psychological, 40 physical.
You've gotta hide away
the fears and the doubts
and bring out the confidence
and the self-belief.
And she definitely
had that about her.
You could see there was
something there.
And I think there was a lot of
people from other countries
that took notice of what
was in the ring then.
That was one of the best
competitions or contests
I'd seen for a long, long time.
I unfortunately
lost my contest 31/32.
Um, Nikki won a gold medal.
Now that for me was
a massive, massive achievement.
For Nikki,
but for female boxing.
So that proved to us that we
were able, we were capable
of going out there
and performing on
the international scene.
As soon as I got back,
I was on the computer
sending an email.
"Thank you very much for
giving us the opportunity."
You know,
"This is the results."
You know. "What next?"
She was like fists. You know.
She was the one producing
the wins, the goods.
And I was more of the brains
behind it, I suppose.
Sending the emails
and the letters.
Nikki spearheaded that start
of the international success
that we had.
Ring in
the red corner, representing
Yorkshire and England,
welcome to Nicola Adams!
The next few years
was a complete 180.
Adams in the red corner.
Conti is in the blue corner.
I went from being
a council estate kid
with no hope, no future,
to travelling the world,
just because of boxing.
It was a really big
eye opener for me.
I was doing
more and more fights,
I was going
to more tournaments.
I was starting to get
a bigger reputation
on the boxing scene.
I was starting to win medals.
Nicola Adams.
Nicola Adams.
Nicola Adams.
Come on, Nikki!
Go on, Nikki!
It was the first time
as well of me seeing
lots of other female boxers
that I'd never met before.
I've been able to train
two or three times a day
and get my studies in as well.
I'm gonna be studying sports
and Spanish as well.
I was doing
everything that I could do
to just try and further
my boxing.
To get more experience.
To be able to be amongst
the best, and beat the best
in the world.
Whoo! Yes! Come on!
She don't copy anybody.
She tried to copy Muhammad Ali
and his style
when she were younger.
That were a good base
to build on.
But Nicola boxed like Nicola,
not like somebody else.
She was a switcher,
she could do orthodox,
which is right hand
at the back.
That was her strong hand then.
Or she'd do southpaw,
which she'd switch
and her left hand
would be at the back.
She was as powerful
with either hand.
You're either one
or the other.
Very few become that
universal switcher.
Nikki's very light
on her feet.
She makes you miss,
she makes you pay.
Jab, catches ya, she's gone.
That is Nikki's strength.
And she'll make you
look silly,
she'll pick you off,
she'll move.
She's like a fly.
You can't swat her.
Around this time,
I met Alwyn Belcher.
He's very good with footwork.
He's the footwork master.
And that's when
I realised that
I didn't have to just use
my gloves for defence
or my head movement.
I can use my feet as well.
I think that's when I started
to really realise
that my footwork was
a big key to my victories.
I wanted to prove to him
that I can be
the best boxer
you've ever seen.
And I will be the best boxer
that you've ever seen.
She's opened up
a fairly impressive lead,
Nicola Adams.
And I somehow
don't think this is gonna
last too long.
Good right hand
once again by Adams.
three... four... five...
The winner in
the red corner, Nicola Adams!
It wasn't until I got older,
that I realized that boxing
was completely different
for the women
than it was for the men.
Because we didn't get
nowhere near
the same amount
of funding.
To get funding,
me and the girls,
we wrote letters
to MPs, to UK Sport.
We wrote letters
to anybody and everybody
to try and get funding.
I sent letters off to
the CO of England Boxing,
I sent letters off
to Sport England,
who were the funding body.
I attended a meeting with
the Board for England Boxing.
And part of the response was,
it's invested in boxers
that's male and female.
So I made them aware that
no it wasn't,
it was just going purely
to the men.
I mean,
going away with ten girls
and you've got
two sets of boxing kit
for everybody to compete in.
It was ridiculous.
We were washing and wearing
somebody else's kit.
And if you don't have time
to wash that kit,
the next person that
needs to wear that
has to just get in
the sweaty kit and box.
You could at least give us
all our own sets
of shorts and vests each.
Like, I don't think
it would have been
that much of
an expense to anybody.
Especially when you saw
the boys go away
and they had their own kit,
physios, they had doctors,
they had nutritionists.
They had everything
you could think of.
And for us, we were lucky
if we even had a kit
to compete in.
As an athlete, you want
everything to be right.
You want to feel focused
and not have to worry
about everything else
and we were only ever sent
away with two coaches.
That meant that if there was
one of the other girls
that was on straight after
the next bout,
there was no coach
to warm them up.
There was no coach to sit with
them, to see how they're doing,
if they--if they needed water.
like anything--
anything at all.
We weren't treated
like athletes,
we were treated
like a nuisance
that just wouldn't
go away.
And they were hoping
if they treated us bad enough,
that one day we would.
There was a team of girls
that out there,
they were absolutely dying
to get on
the international scene
and--and represent
their country.
There was always a barrier
being put in front of us.
There was always
a door blocking us
and it was really hard
tearing down those doors
and fighting our way through.
And just having to do
everything ourselves
and funding everything
She'd pay for
herself to go to tournaments
and she was working full time.
Which was quite hard to do.
Explaining to an employer that,
"Oh, I need time off
for training
or to go to tournaments."
The boys got
funding and support
so they were able
to train full time.
And just be able to
focus on training.
And that's what we wanted
to be able to do, too.
The men obviously
got a lot of the investment,
because they were
an Olympic team.
But because the women
didn't have an Olympics
at that point.
Funding obviously got invested
into the men more than it did
the women.
We were down the bottom of--
bottom of the list.
They said to us,
"If you go away
and you win medals,
you'll get more funding.
And everything'll be great."
So I was like, "Okay."
We'll go away
and we'll get those medals.
We got to go to the
World Championships in China.
But they were expecting us
to go away
two days before
a tournament in China,
bearing in mind
the jet lag, win a medal,
so you can all get
more funding.
I just thought, I'm not gonna
complain about it,
I'm just gonna do it.
You can put all of
the odds against me
and I'll still come back
and medal.
All the girls went out
in the quarterfinals
and I was left in.
I remember sitting down
with the girls
and they were like,
"Hey, Nik, like...
you need to win this for--
for all of us."
We just needed a medal,
any medal.
Just to secure some
type of funding.
Come on, Nikki!
I got to the finals.
Managed to get a silver,
so I was super, super happy.
Especially when
I thought back to how much
was against us in the start.
We thought we were gonna
receive loads of funding.
Everything was gonna change.
But when we got back...
they were like, "Well, no."
I was so heartbroken
and so angry.
It was demoralising.
Especially when we'd see
Ireland receive
the world of funding
when Katie Taylor
was winning
in major tournaments.
They'd tell us that
if we win medals
in these tournaments,
that we'll get funding.
And then when we
finally achieve that goal,
then you just move
the line even further away.
At the end of the day,
we're there because
we deserve to be there.
Female boxing's there
because it deserves
to be there.
You know, it's not a case of
"Oh, well, we're threatening
the men."
We're not here
to threaten the men,
we just want to be accepted.
We just want to be given
a chance like everybody else.
Every other boxer
that walks through the door.
Regardless if they're
male or female, you know.
Just give us a bit of equality.
There was a few times
where I thought,
"You know what,
maybe boxing's not for me.
There's not enough funding,
there's not enough support.
People just aren't
getting with it."
Instead of the
struggle getting easier,
it's getting harder.
So you're just fighting
to fight your whole career.
There is so much negativity
in the boxing world
towards women.
It just makes the fighting
ten times harder.
You're fighting outside
the ring as well as in it.
And it does grate and it does
have an effect in the end.
I've had to deal with
a lot of criticism
as a female boxer.
And seeing so many
successful boxers
who I look up to
say such horrible things
is really hard to take.
It's just really
hurtful to hear
some of the things
that they say.
No, I think
we're all talking together.
I normally don't do
interviews with women
unless I fornicate
with them.
So you shouldn't talk anymore.
I think women
are there for sex...
every night. Hard sex.
I think they're very nice,
when they're walking around
that ring
holding them cards.
Cleaning, cooking, washing...
When you get two women
fighting each other to beat
each other up, you know,
it's, it's a bit,
it's a bit cruel really.
It's a bit tough, ain't it?
...a body punch and I hurt him.
Actually, he was crying
in there.
Making woman gestures
like . I can't...
Why would I wanna see that?
I believe a woman's
best place is...
in the kitchen
and on her back.
And I think once that
novelty value has ended,
I don't think it'll be that
successful anyway.
I think all this talk
about girls
not boxing is
Girls aren't the delicate
flowers they used to be.
Up until 1998,
women's boxing was actually
illegal in the UK.
It was women like Jane Couch
that were able to make it
so women's boxing
was legal and we could fight.
I just went
to the local boxing gym
and asked if I could join.
They said no.
'Cause it was, like,
the early 90s,
so there was no such thing
as women boxing.
"No, you can't come here,
you're a woman,"
and I just kept on and on
and in the end,
they eventually let me join.
I was fighting on
the unlicensed circuit.
So I was already
an established
two-time world champion.
I was boxing abroad,
I was defending me titles,
winning titles
successfully in America
and Germany.
In the UK, the Boxing Board
didn't want women's boxing.
Well, nobody really wanted it.
The media,
they was all against it.
So I just think it was like
the last male bastion that
they just wanted
to keep women out of.
And so I took
the Boxing Board of Control
to court to get women's
boxing legalised in the UK.
The reason why it was illegal
was when women have
their menstrual cycle,
it makes them unstable.
So we were too emotional
to be able to box.
When I found out that reason,
I was like,
"What? Are you serious?
Like did you speak to
a doctor about this
or is this just your opinion?"
Because I know there was no
scientific evidence
that said that.
They just assumed that
women were unstable
and would be unfit
to get in the boxing ring.
And I think it came up
in the court case that,
well, if I was on a period
and I was getting up the steps
to get into the boxing ring,
that I might fall over.
Some of the logic
behind some of the decisions,
it just-- it really
just baffles me.
Like you--you just
have to take a moment
and actually think, like,
"Is this for real?
Like, someone said that?"
They're to make you
If they can knock you out,
that's the key,
of what boxing is about.
And to have two young girls
doing that type of sport
as well...
They will quite often hide
behind a perception of care.
What would be nice
is wouldn't it be better
if they
just didn't hit each other?
"We don't think
girls should do this
'cause they might get hurt."
If you look at the ban on
women's football back in 1921,
it was banned for 50 years
because it was deemed
unsuitable for women
and it might be a health risk.
And you want to go,
"Hang on a second,
you do realize women
give birth, don't you?
You do realize women
go through the most painful
and potentially dangerous event
to perpetuate the human race.
You are aware of that?"
We won the case,
but it was just like
everyone was so against it
that it was quite hard
to continue the battle
'cause it was hard enough
training to fight
and compete without having
all that going through
your head as well.
It was--
it was a terrible time.
You was called like
a monster, a freak,
a sicko-- "You're a psycho."
It was just nasty
and made you feel
worthless in yourself.
You-- you're females
and you're supposed to
be females
and you know,
you got like...
-Well, we are females.
-Nice features...
Despite the fact
that I'm a Black woman,
I'm a lesbian, being a female
was way more offensive
to the boxing community
than anything else.
When I was about 13,
I went to a boxing club
in Sunderland to spar
and I remember walking in
and the coach pointing at me.
He went to my coach
who brought me,
"What's that?"
And like I just pretended
I didn't hear him.
My coach went,
"Oh, it's our female boxer."
He went, "No, no girls
allowed in here."
And I literally
had to sit in the van.
I wasn't allowed in the gym.
It was the same thing
in the amateur boxing world.
A lot of the male coaches
were really sexist.
And they used to say
some horrible stuff to us.
And it was hard to think
that those people
were even in charge
of women's boxing.
A lot of them
were just really mean to us.
And they made us feel like
we didn't even deserve
to be there.
Being treated like that
is nothing new to me.
My Dad always had this rule
that I had to be home
before it got dark.
When I'd walk through
the door from playing out,
he'd be sat on the sofa,
just waiting for me
to come in.
And if I was late,
I'd be just waiting to see
how angry he was gonna be.
And hope that...
he'd just use his hand
to beat me
and not anything else.
If you hit an 8 or 9 year old
and you're a grown man,
that's gonna really hurt.
There was one particular time
when my dad
was trying to beat up my mum.
I was only 3 or 4 at the time
and I had
a little plastic sword
and I tried to
get in front of my mum
to try and help her
and try and stop him.
And he just pushed me
out of the way.
It was almost like I just
got used to living that way.
Feeling scared.
A lot of the time feeling sad.
I just tried to be as good
as I possibly could.
There was nothing
I could do about it,
and I wanted to
do something about it,
but I didn't know
what I could do.
It didn't even cross my mind
to even tell somebody at school
because I was so scared
of what would happen
if my dad found out.
I'd been watching a TV show
and the family
was in pretty much
the same situation that I was.
And they ended up killing him
and putting him
in the back garden.
I remember going up
to my mum
and she was crying.
And I said to her,
"It's okay, because
I've seen a TV show.
We can get rid of him."
I just don't know what to do
with the body,
because we didn't have
a garden with grass.
The garden was concrete.
It was at that point
where my mum was like,
"Something has to change."
Like, "I'm...
I'm gonna get out
of this situation."
She wanted to be
strong-- physically, mentally.
She wanted to have
that self-discipline.
The ability to protect
herself, protect her mum,
you know,
who she loves dearly.
She's seen her mum being hurt.
And 'cause she's
been hurt so bad,
she's just put a massive wall
up to protect herself.
When I was at the gym,
I felt stronger
and I felt like
I could protect myself.
I could protect me,
I could protect my mum
and my brother.
And sometimes
I used to think like if,
if my dad was ever
to try anything again,
it'd be okay because
I'd be strong enough now.
And I'd be able to
protect everybody.
We tried to get women's boxing
into the 2008 Olympics.
But there were just
so many different excuses.
"We don't have the facilities
for female boxers."
The standard of
the women's boxing
wasn't high enough,
there wasn't enough female
boxers to participate...
So it took the entire
community of female boxers
to come together and fight.
We had to get women's boxing
into 2012 or we were done.
We really have to act.
This is the time when
the decisions are made.
And we need to
promote women boxing.
We need to tell everyone
that women boxing is ready.
I still dreamed of,
you know,
being like the top fighters
like Muhammad Ali
and Sugar Ray Leonard.
You know, they all
went to the Olympics
and got gold medals
and I was like, "Yeah,
one day that, you know,
I want that to be me as well."
Boxing is the only sport
in the Olympics
that doesn't have
a male and female event.
We are training
just as much as the guys are
and we still
don't get any money
because it's not
an Olympic sport.
For women's boxing
to be included,
the number of men
competing will have to reduce.
And you can imagine
the resistance
that will happen then.
Everything I've trained for.
All the ups and the downs
and the injuries
and the tears, you know.
It'd be like, I'd be able
to sit back and think,
"Yes, like this is... this is
what I've been fighting for.
This is the thing I've been
waiting for all my life."
Things were doing really well.
The campaign for getting
women's boxing
into the Olympics
was just looking up.
And then all of a sudden...
My whole world fell apart.
I was getting ready
for a competition.
I was packing my bags.
I'd left my bandages slightly
hanging out of my bag
and I've tripped over
the bandages.
I've gone
falling down the stairs.
And it wasn't until
a couple of weeks later
that the pain
wasn't going in my back
and it was getting worse.
I went for an MRI scan
and the doctor told me
I'd broken my back.
It was the worst thing
that could have
possibly happened
at the worst time.
I didn't know how long
I'd be out of boxing,
if I'd be able
to even box again.
Even if she tried to box,
maybe, like,
she wouldn't have been able
to move as good as she could.
She wouldn't be able
to get the power.
And like any injury,
would it keep coming back?
She was so frightened that
she'd never be the same.
Walking was a struggle,
let alone
getting back into the ring
and boxing.
She struggled to see the end,
I suppose, at that point.
I was in bed for three months.
Just complete bed rest.
Whenever I walked around,
I had to wear a back brace
to keep my spine in line.
And it was so hard to think,
"How am I gonna get back
to where I was before?"
I've gone from being
a world silver medallist
to not being able to
lift my shoulders off
of the floor.
I was just laid there,
so sad and--and depressed.
And I just wanted to do more
and I just couldn't.
There were so many times
where I thought to myself,
"I'm never gonna be able
to box again."
I've never been tested
mentally and physically
so strongly in my entire life.
For the first time,
I was physically weak.
And that hasn't happened to me
since I was a kid.
I felt like
I couldn't protect myself.
That was the moment
that really crushed me
and hurt me the most.
Men have been
boxing at the Olympics
since the modern games
began in 1904.
For the first time ever,
this summer,
women will step into
the ring at the London games.
Oh, man, it was amazing.
I was so happy.
Keep, keep, keep it up!
I just can't believe that
it's actually in the Olympics.
I'm--I'm so happy, I just,
I don't think words
could describe how
I'm feeling right now.
And all the girls
jumped up on the chairs,
clapping, cheering.
You know,
it was like, unbelievable.
We all kind of...
Let us in.
I was so happy.
I could be going
to the Olympics.
And then I was thinking...
But I have a broken back.
How am I gonna go now?
What am I supposed to do?
They started doing their
for who was going
to be on the GB team
to go to the qualifiers
for the Olympics.
There was only three women's
weight divisions
and there was ten male.
So that made it
twice as hard to qualify.
I'd be there every week and
watching the girls training,
doing different fitness tests
and I'd be just
either sat on the sidelines
or I was getting physio.
Nik was coming to the
as part of the squad,
with a back brace on.
You know, completely injured.
She couldn't do anything
apart from watch.
They were going
through, selecting girls.
Some of the girls
weren't making the cut.
And it was just getting down
to the last few.
Got to the final assessment.
I think her back brace
had been taken off
and Rob McCracken,
the Performance Director
was like, "You know, we're
gonna have to see you
in action here."
It was at the point where,
well, she hasn't tried,
we don't know
if she's good enough,
so how can we have her
on the team?
Up until that point,
I hadn't put on any gloves
and I was like,
"Right, what can I do?
What can I do?"
Because this is too painful.
Just walking around's
just painful.
So how am I gonna start
throwing punches?
And I decided to just stick
three or four morphine patches
on both of my arms.
Chug some Oramorph
and then put my wraps on
and I was like,
"Right, I'm gonna go
do some boxing."
She wanted so badly
to get back in the ring.
She loved boxing,
boxing's her life.
I couldn't move.
It was really, really painful.
But it paid off.
I got a letter in the post
a week after
saying that I'd made the team.
I just remember
breaking down in tears
and just being like,
"Wow, like, I did it.
Like, how the hell
did I get there?
How did I manage to do that?"
To actually qualify
for the Olympics,
I had to go to the
World Championships in China.
From Leeds,
29-year-old Nicola Adams.
The number one
and the number two seeds
have come through
two sides of the draw
to meet in this final
once again.
In the finals,
I came up against my nemesis
Ren Cancan from China.
The rivalry was so big because
she was the only person that
could even come close to me
in terms of technical skill,
speed and power.
Cancan was
her Achilles' heel.
Some people's idea of boxing
is two people standing
knocking lumps
out of each other.
Other people see it
as like a game of chess.
Trying to outsmart,
outthink, outmanoeuvre.
If you can exploit an
opponent's weaknesses
and find an opening,
then that's all part
of the game.
There's a hell of a lot
of thinking going on
that people don't realise.
Quick look at our five judges.
Round one of four.
Some people I think
go in there and think, "Right,
just power shots all day
and I don't need to do
anything else."
Whereas with her,
she's thinking all the time
like I am,
so if I'm catching her
with a certain shot,
the next round
or the next 30 seconds or so,
she's gonna change
what she's doing
and do something
completely different.
And that's what made our
rivalry and our matches
so intense
because you never knew
which way it was gonna go.
-Counting the
clock down here. What a match.
What a performance
from both boxers.
World class.
But was that enough...
from Nicola Adams?
The red corner,
2008 World Champion,
2010 World Champion
is Ren Cancan of China.
I was stood in
the middle of the ring.
And then they raised her hand
and I just couldn't
believe it.
I just had a sinking horrible
feeling in my stomach.
And I didn't even
want my medal.
I just wanted to throw it out
of the window.
For me it was just like,
yeah, I'm just the first best
Like, it's not good enough.
When I was
winning all the time,
I felt invincible,
and then when I lost,
it was just taken away
from me.
There are
only a few winners
compared with
how many boxers there are.
Some can deal with losing,
some can't.
And it can damage them
probably mentally.
Their ambitions
weren't fulfilled.
The doubts
started to creep in.
It's just that thought of...
"I'm not good enough."
It's like, if she got beat,
then how would she handle it?
It was ten weeks
before the Olympic Games.
The one thing
that tournament did do,
it gave me an unreal
determination and motivation
to beat Cancan.
I literally spent the next
ten weeks
just preparing for her.
She's got the fear of losing.
So much so that she'll make
sure that she does
double in the training
to get it right on the day
you know,
and it's a real drive.
I've seen Nikki lose fights
and when she does,
she's a shell of herself
It reverts her back
into a past feeling
of not being where
she wants to be.
I literally had
the guys that I sparred with
mimicking her style.
Alwyn was working
on my foot position.
She was back in the gym.
She was flying.
She was asking the coach
for extra work.
I was watching reruns
of me and Ren Cancan boxing.
Her boxing other people.
Watching the styles that
worked the most on her.
Going through the analysis
of her boxing style,
it was almost like
an obsession.
To beat her,
I had to study her,
I had to know
everything that she does
so that I was ready for when
I had to see her
again in London.
Welcome to London.
It was incredible.
I was so happy to be there.
I was just overwhelmed.
All the fireworks, the crowd--
I couldn't believe
it was all for us.
I was walking around
with all the other athletes.
And all the female boxers were
so happy to finally be there.
I'm a part of this now.
I'm an Olympian.
When the opening ceremony
had finished,
the following day,
the boxing started.
You could literally almost
sense the mood change.
That was it, it was go time.
Going into the Olympic Games,
I didn't care who I faced.
I wasn't bothered as long
as I got her in the finals.
She was the only person
that I wanted to beat.
I think most people'd
be like, "Well,
she's the world number one,
so if somebody else
beats her,
then that's cool.
I don't have to deal with her,"
but I feel like
to be the best,
you have to beat the best.
So I wanted to beat her.
I got through
the quarterfinals...
and then the semifinals..
and then I found out
that I was going to face Ren.
The night before the finals,
I was talking to my coach
and he said to me,
the other two girls are out
of the Olympics.
No medals.
And it's up to you now
to get this gold medal
to secure the funding
for women's boxing.
When she walked out
for her gold medal fight,
that was the first time
I'd heard a roar like that
ever in my life.
You can see
in the footage
how big the crowds were
and how excited everybody was.
And I just couldn't believe
that so many people
had taken to women's boxing
in the way that they did.
There wasn't just
a gold medal on the line.
There was a place
in the history books.
At that point, I knew
that I was fighting for
more than myself.
I was fighting for every
female boxer in the UK.
Anybody that watched
that footage'll see
Nicola oozes confidence
going into the ring.
But deep down inside,
she's a nervous wreck.
On the outside, they might
be the most confident,
self-assured person
in the world.
But actually deep down inside,
you're gonna be worried.
Her poker face
is very good. She's like me.
None of the games,
none of the tricks.
They don't work
on a seasoned athlete.
This is it.
The moment of truth.
Having pressure like that just
really brings out
the lioness in me.
The kill or be killed,
if you don't make this hunt,
you don't make this kill,
you might not survive.
We stepped into
the centre of the ring.
You can see in the footage
that she was throwing some
really good shots
and catching me
with some good jabs.
My tactics were:
stay behind the jab.
Go first and third.
So I'd throw a punch first,
say a jab.
Knowing that that's
gonna fall short to try
and encourage her
to throw,
so then I can come back
with a very fast counter
to score the points.
That was working really well.
And what I did this time,
instead of following her
around the ring,
I was just edging more
to my right-hand side.
'Cause she always edges
round that way round the ring.
So the game plan was
to cut her off
and then catch her
as she comes in.
And in the second round,
it worked to a T.
She went down.
The crowd was roaring.
You can see in the footage
I couldn't believe that
it happened at first.
She's the type of fighter
that likes to sit
on the back foot
and move around the ring
and have a lot of time to think
as you're coming in.
But because
she was down on points,
she had to come to me,
which completely
took her out of her game plan
and it played into mine,
so I had all the time
in the world.
And I was just waiting
for her to come inside
to pick her off.
I remember going back
to the corner
and the coaches
saying to me like,
"Right, okay,
you're doing really well.
You're just
a couple of points off.
Keep focused.
Stick to the game plan.
That last round for me
was the most focused
that I think I've ever been
in any fight.
I was actively trying
to stay away from her,
stay around
the edges of the ring.
It was like a game
of cat and mouse.
I've got to be
very smart, agile,
light on my feet.
and not standing still
for a second.
And when the final bell went,
I felt I'd done
everything I could.
I think there's a doubt
in someone's mind
when they come
back to the corner
and you don't know whether
you've won or lost.
And you're waiting for
the decision to be made.
That anticipation.
All the thoughts
going through your mind.
You're almost praying,
please, please,
please give me it,
please give me it.
And I've seen that look
in her face before.
I was standing there
so nervous.
Ladies and gentlemen...
Listening to the announcer
...the winner by a score
of 16 points to 7...
I couldn't stop moving.
And then it happened...
Olympic champion
in the blue corner,
representing Great Britain...
Nicola Adams!
I was just so happy.
And it wasn't until I got
to the end of the fight
and I heard
the points at the end
and I was
so many points in front.
But they said they did
that to keep my focus
all the way through the fight.
Yeah, it was good.
I didn't know
about that game plan.
It's hard to put into words
how I felt that day.
I just created history.
All those days
of tears and crying
and setbacks and injuries
and wondering
if I'd chosen
the right career.
Wondering if women's boxing
was ever even going to be
an Olympic sport.
And then knowing
that you've done it
and you've stood there
and you've got
the first-ever gold medal.
I felt like I'd been through
that much,
it almost felt like
it had to be me.
When you look
at the medals ceremony,
and the chanting is so loud
and the cheering is immense.
And Nicola actually steps up
onto the podium before her
name is announced.
-Nicola Adams!
She's up there
and she's like,
"Yes, this is my place."
I was just so happy for her.
For how she won that fight.
All them years and everything
she'd been working towards
just falling
into place like that.
And that was it,
her dream had come true.
She told me she were
gonna be a world champion
and she did it.
I think it was just destiny.
Everything that
she'd worked hard for,
everything that she'd done,
all built up
for that moment.
She just wouldn't let anyone
take it away from her.
Not Ren Cancan, not anyone.
When I saw her face,
then her eyes tear up,
I just knew
that was it for her.
That moment, she had made it.
And everything she had worked
for was for that reason.
It's still, you know,
all sinking in.
I just can't believe
what I've--
what I've achieved today.
You know, it's--
it's a, definitely
a childhood dream come true.
After I won the Olympics,
my life completely changed.
Everybody knew who I was.
That was it.
Nikki was a household name.
She was just everywhere.
I remember my gran
was ringing me like that,
"That girl's got
such a beautiful smile."
Gran didn't say
nothing about the boxing.
Nicola Adams, everyone!
I tried to go
do a food shop
and literally
I just got mobbed.
There was just people wanting
autographs and photographs.
The security had
to take me out.
I had to leave my shopping.
Everywhere she went
at that point,
she was recognised.
You know,
people just wanted to
stop her in the street
And you'll always get that one
drunk person that,
usually a male,
that kind of wants to,
you know, challenge her.
Me, Nik and Chantelle
used to share a house.
I remember,
we were going on a night out
and I remember she'd
got some fan mail
and she'd just open it
and people were just
sending her money
just because of who she was,
because of what she'd done.
It meant so, so much
for female boxing.
For boxing, but for
female boxing
more than anything.
There's a lot of boxing fans
that didn't even know that
women were in gyms boxing,
because all they'd ever see
is male boxers.
As soon as she won that fight,
it was boom--
female boxing, Nicola Adams.
Seeing Nikki
win the Olympic gold,
amateur clubs were opening up
the doors to women.
And it gave everybody a face,
a name, a profile.
It gave a role model to,
for the next generation
to look up to.
A pathway clear.
I knew I wanted to create
a path so girls could follow
and they wouldn't
have to struggle.
And mums like mine
wouldn't have to work so hard.
-So I worked and--
I worked.
The power of representation
is so important
for the next generation.
It really changes what people
perceive a Black woman to be.
Because I'm Black
and I'm a boxer,
everybody expected me
to be very aggressive.
And I'm actually
not like that at all.
For me, it was more about
people being able to see
that just because of
the colour of her skin
or her sexuality,
it hasn't stopped her
achieving the goals
she wanted
to achieve.
The future's female.
-Enjoy your drinks!
She is a Black woman,
who is gay, who boxes.
For Nicola, it is an
important part of who she is,
but she was always very keen
that it wasn't
the one thing
that defined her.
That doesn't change the fact
that for lots of other people,
she is a pioneer
on that stage.
It meant a lot
to be recognised
for doing what I love.
But it did come
with its downfalls.
Everybody wanted to be
involved in women's boxing.
Everybody wanted
a piece of women's boxing.
It was almost like overnight
everybody had a female boxer
that they'd been
coaching for years
and I'm like, "Oh, really?"
Where did you find them?!
Nikki is hypervigilant.
She's always
on the lookout all the time.
Nicola Adams,
the boxer, we all know.
She loves the limelight.
She loves the attention,
she loves to get in the ring
and showboat
and be the best
that she can be.
Nicola Adams, the person,
I don't necessarily
know completely.
She has this boxing,
and she'll talk about boxing
with anybody, you know, 24/7.
But she'll very rarely talk
to you about her life
and things that are going on
in her private life.
It's a constant battle
with trust for Nikki.
You could be the closest
person to her
and you might do something
and it'll unsettle her.
She doesn't even trust people
close to her completely.
She only trusts herself.
You know, given the fame
that she's got now,
that probably, that trust,
that faith that
you have in people
probably gets questioned
even moreso now.
And I'm still fighting
for that trust.
She has a little bit of
vulnerability about her.
I don't mean
vulnerable physically.
She has this grin,
this smile on.
You can see her,
she's on camera,
she's talking...
and the camera switches off
or whatever, then, you know,
she'll glance over
and I remember noticing
at the time
and I looked over and she just
went from being this bubbly
person to sort of...
a bit, you know...
went inside herself.
For me sometimes,
I prefer when people
don't know who I am
when they first meet me
because I get
a true reflection
of who that person really is.
There's been
plenty of times like that,
when someone
hasn't recognised me
and I've been sat next to them
and they've moved
their purse away
or I've been followed
around a store
by security guards.
They've treated me badly
and then somebody's
told them who I am
and then all of a sudden,
they've changed.
It makes me very
protective over her.
I'm always
very careful about
who she surrounds
herself with.
I always second-guess
everything everyone says,
'cause I see the hard exterior
and I also see all the pain
she's been through
and how it
actually impacts her.
I'm very cautious
of anyone trying to use her
or have ill intent
towards her.
Especially her dad,
who showed up
to the Olympics to try...
and basically take credit
for all the work...
she did without him.
I've always, always
loved the boxing
from when we used to watch it
at home with my dad and...
I saw my dad
at the 2012 Olympics.
That was a big shock because
I wasn't expecting to see him
after I'd won my medal.
Especially because
we didn't really talk.
I didn't really see him.
He never really asked
about my boxing.
And he thought that I
shouldn't even be--be boxing,
so the fact that he turned up
there was like,
"Well, that's random."
He came up to me and hugged me
and asked for a photograph.
I just remember telling myself
to just put on a brave face
and not let him
ruin the moment.
After the fight,
might have been maybe
a couple of months or so,
I spoke to him on the phone.
And I asked him about
what he did
when we were growing up.
And he said I was crazy
and I didn't know what
I was talking about.
He was just in complete denial.
When we moved to Ebor Gardens,
my mum had another boyfriend.
At first, he was really nice.
I thought, "Oh, great,
this, this could be cool.
You know, we'll have
a nice little family."
And as the relationship built,
he gradually became...
became violent.
I'd just had enough.
I used to sleep with
a hammer under my bed.
So I went upstairs
and I got the hammer.
And I said to him,
"You need to
leave the house now,
otherwise I'm gonna use it."
He got into the car
and I told him not to
come back.
There was a brick
on the side of the road
and I just picked it up
threw it and it went through
his back window
as he was driving away.
Being aggressive scares me,
but I was almost
forced to be
to protect myself.
Nikki's scared of
turning out like her dad.
When she ever gets angry or...
gets riled up,
erm, I think it scares her
a little bit.
She's always quite scared
to act like him.
I used to say to my mum,
"Why would you let people
treat you like that?"
We've just left my dad
and then ...
you go into these
and it's the exact same thing.
And I used to get so angry.
I'd be like, "Why, like, why?
Why do you let them do that?"
I suffered a lot of abuse
with my dad.
And then...
it's just continued
with my mum,
but in a different form.
It's normally on an evening
and then
the text messages will start,
threatening to expose me
to the press
and bring up God knows what.
She'd just say
really horrible stuff,
like how much
of a horrible person I am.
Or the fact that...
everybody around me now
doesn't care about me and...
they're the only people
that care about me.
So if I don't have them,
then I'll be alone.
Me and my mum both suffered
at the hands of my dad,
but my mum is just
perpetuating it.
She just can't seem
to find a way out of it
and it's just ruined
our relationship.
I feel like I've
lost my mum now.
It just makes me feel alone.
To be a great fighter
you've gotta have
natural talent and ability.
But talent only gets you
that far.
The rest has to be dedication,
hard work, grit
and you have to put
the blinkers on.
It's a team job
up until they get in the ring,
then you're on your own.
You might be in with your team
when you're training
and you're having a bit
of banter and, you know,
you're getting switched on,
but as soon as that--that
bell goes and you're
all alone in that ring,
it's a lonely old place.
I take that loneliness
and I focus
and it means that
I can completely
put everything
into my boxing.
I don't see myself
as a victim.
I never want to be
seen like that.
One, two.
One, two, three.
Good! Jab. Stick and body.
I'm Nicola Adams, the Lioness.
The Queen of the North
from the UK.
I'm here to do the most,
be the best,
be number one.
I can't wait to operate,
get in that ring...
I don't know what else
to say now.
When I decided to
turn pro in 2017,
there was very few women
in the pro game.
It was like starting female
boxing again from scratch.
In the amateur world,
I'd conquered everything.
I had won everything
there was to win.
And then going to
the pro game now,
I was a small fish
in a very big pond.
I spoke to
all the top promoters.
And the surprise for me was
actually getting a call
from Frank Warren.
I was still
pretty much anti-it,
but my kids work with me
in my business now and they
drove me mad about Nicola.
The reigning Olympic
He told me he watched me win
my second gold medal
at Rio 2016.
And he said
he was really impressed.
And all the cab drivers.
That's my litmus test,
you know, when the cab drivers
are talking about someone.
Everybody was
talking about her.
You've retained that title.
Do you realise just how proud
Britain is of you?
Yeah, just, just literally
coming through the airport
and seeing everybody cheering
and wanting to take pictures.
It was amazing.
Now, this is a person that
pretty much the whole time
I've been boxing
has been against it.
And now he's ringing me.
So I was like,
"Okay, you know what?
-I'll hear him out,
see what he's got to say."
And he said,
when he watched my fights,
he couldn't believe
the skill that I had.
And I changed his mind.
Nicola Adams, OBE MBE...
I thought he was
completely against
women's boxing
so I just figured, you know,
there'd be no point in even
speaking to Frank.
And then lo and behold,
he ends up being my promoter.
I was the first woman that
Frank Warren's team
ever signed.
When Frank signed Nicola,
I mean, let's be honest,
it was just for money,
for the TV.
He never signed Nicola
because she was a great amateur
and she's a great person
and she's a great boxer.
He, in my opinion,
signed just because
BT Sport said
"We have to have
a woman on."
And it was just
a token gesture.
So she was brave doing that.
But with that,
it also brought an opportunity,
an opportunity
for Nicola to prove
that she deserved to be there.
That female boxing deserved
to be on the professional scene
and that it should be taken
as serious as the men's.
My debut fight was against
Virginia from Argentina.
You could see in the footage
that I was still getting used
to the pro game.
I'm still throwing
a lot of punches
and I'm not focusing
on the accuracy.
I was boxing without a
head-guard for the first time
and we both caught
each other with some
good shots to the head.
Amateur boxing is
more about point scoring
whereas in
professional boxing,
it's more about power shots.
First couple of fights,
I struggled in training
to try and slow my work down,
because I was so used to just
going a hundred miles an hour,
punching non-stop
all the time.
In my second fight,
I managed to take her out
in the third round.
I was feeling stronger
and stronger
and I felt unbeatable.
In the third round,
Nicola Adams
gets the stoppage win
that she wants!
When I'm getting ready
to fight,
I want my opponent
to feel my presence.
I want them to feel that I am
so confident and unbeatable
that in the ring,
I have the power to do
anything I want.
Really good left hand.
There was a point
in my next fight
where I threw
a couple of body shots.
A left hook to the body
and you see her
just wince down in pain.
...right on the bell!
After I found out
that I'd actually
a couple of her ribs.
Isabel Millan was
an aggressive
come-forward fighter,
but she was also
very messy as well.
You can see in the footage
that she was throwing
big swinging punches,
but she wasn't landing
many of them.
Nicola Adams!
It was a tough fight,
but I won.
And I got
the WBO Interim Title.
So that put me in a position
where I could challenge
for the world title.
When I got into the
professional boxing world
and I saw how female boxers
were being treated,
it was almost like
going in a time warp
and going back to the days
of when amateur boxing
on the women's side
wasn't accepted.
It was so, so backwards.
I've been in contact with
people in the pro world that
I wouldn't trust as far
as I could throw them.
I believe that it's very rare
that you come across
someone who...
wants you to do well.
Nicola was treated so much
different when she turned pro
because she was a woman
and it was as simple as that.
I mean, had Nicola been a male,
like Anthony Joshua won
the 2012 Olympics gold medal.
The difference with the
promotion for Anthony Joshua,
and the difference in
promotion for Nicola Adams
was... massive.
I feel like because
I was a female boxer
I wasn't given
as much attention
as some of
the male fighters
even though I knew that I was
bringing in more of a crowd
than some of the top
male fighters that they had.
I think there's always been
a few issues
blocking women's
progress in sport
and interestingly if you're
lesbian, or gay, or bisexual,
that has not helped matters
historically, you know.
Martina Navratilova
for example,
says she didn't lose sponsors
because she was out,
but she certainly
didn't gain new ones.
You've got a double
Olympic champion right here,
home grown.
They could have literally
done the most.
I think that she realised
in her career time
that it might not be
all the way
a given for women's boxing,
but a step further,
a step closer to that goal,
to get that same recognition
that the males got.
Things didn't change
until the likes of me,
Katie Taylor and
Claressa Shields came along.
And then we started
speaking out
about the injustices
in women's boxing.
Boxing is so sexist.
And these men
are fighting for...
multiple millions.
They haven't
accomplished half
of what I've accomplished.
I think they just put in a...
a locker room for the women.
And it was a tiny one
in the back.
And the trainers there didn't
wanna train any of the females.
They weren't given
a proper room
to warm up in and get changed.
Some of them weren't
even getting 5K a fight.
And after you deduct
all the training expenses,
you're probably
looking at about
five hundred to a thousand
after you've boxed,
which is ridiculous.
If you don't fight,
you don't get paid.
I went a full year
without a fight.
So I had no income.
One of my fights kept getting
pushed back
and pushed back and pushed
back and I thought,
"Look, am I even gonna
fight this year?"
I've got bills to pay,
I've got rent to pay.
So I ended up applying
for jobs, supermarket jobs
and I'm a world champion.
I applied for Aldi.
Lidl, I didn't even get past
the application stage.
I failed that.
Nicola has never
earnt a third
of what Anthony Joshua
probably earnt
in the first year
of his boxing career.
He got all the glory,
all the money,
all the sponsorships.
And it was like, well,
she'd just achieved
exactly what he's achieved.
Nicola won a gold medal
as well.
On top of that,
the problem we faced
was that female boxers
just weren't getting
enough fights.
And I don't think I was active
enough in my pro career.
I think I should have
definitely been boxing
a lot more.
My sixth pro fight
was my hardest fight yet.
I box at flyweight and...
I had a day to get
from 127 to 112.
Normally for a fight,
I'd lose ten pounds
and then just put it back on.
This fight, I lost over
a stone in 24 hours.
Sometimes the promoters
don't give you enough time
to be able to make that weight
before the fight,
so you have to crash it.
And that's what I did.
Her nutritionist said
he's never known a fighter
to ever be able to lose
that much weight.
And it would be impossible
and he would not advise it.
Because I'd lost
so much weight,
my body had to restart itself
to be able to start
taking in water
and start taking in
food again.
So I really, really struggled.
Her eyes were sunken in.
Her skin had gone grey.
You could see all her ribs.
Everything was caved in.
She looked emaciated.
And now as a professional...
When I went to the weigh in,
couldn't really hear anything
because I'd lost
so much fluid around my brain.
It was horrible.
My coaches had to help me
get undressed,
because I didn't have
the energy to even
take my tracksuit off
to get on the scales.
They helped me walk over
to the stage where
the scales were.
I was so scared,
because I was like,
I don't know if I've even got
the energy to hold myself up.
If she's struggling
really bad,
maybe she should
have been like,
"Look, let's do
the world title
the weight above.
Because in
professional boxing,
you can go through
the weights.
So maybe that
communication there,
if that was spoken about,
the weight wouldn't have
been much of an issue.
I knew my opponent
and their coaches knew exactly
what was wrong with me.
And I just tried to put on
a front
and pretend that
everything was okay.
After the weigh in...
I went back to the hotel.
Tried to eat,
but I couldn't eat anything.
We rang the nutritionist
and spoke to him
and he explained
it's because her organs
had started to shut down,
'cause her body
was so malnourished.
Like, at that point,
everybody was
pretty, pretty worried.
There was
a couple of times where
my coach and the nutritionist
were saying that
I should pull out.
But I just wanted
to do the fight.
Boxing is a microcosm of life.
It's filled with blood
and it is an art form.
Some people are born to fight.
It's a natural instinct
within them.
They come alive in the ring.
Your mindset is
you've gotta be a winner.
You know, you feel at
the end of the day,
you're unbeatable.
Nicola's mentality
is no different.
By the time
we got to the arena,
I think it was eight,
nine o'clock at night.
You can see in the footage
that I just don't look right.
I don't have the same spark or
energy that I normally have.
Even walking into the centre
of the ring to touch gloves
was horrible.
Seconds out. Round 1...
The bell went. I started okay.
I was doing everything
I could.
I was switching southpaw,
I was working behind my jab.
I was keeping my
defence tight.
Anything I could do
to survive the fight.
I felt that night
things weren't right.
She didn't seem to be herself
in the ring.
And I actually remember
sitting there thinking
to myself,
"I wonder if she's gonna
carry on doing this?"
I remember saying to the guys,
I said,
"She didn't look comfortable."
Each time I went
back to the corner,
I was exhausted.
My trainer was trying his best
to keep me focused.
Telling me what round
I was on.
Telling me how many rounds
there was to go.
I just needed this to be over.
I just need to survive.
There was a lot of talk about,
you know,
"She didn't perform as good
as she normally does.
It was boring."
The commentators were
saying I was moving
a lot slower than normal.
And I was throwing a lot less
punches than I normally would.
But the whole time,
nobody actually knew
why I was performing
the way I was
and what I'd actually
been through.
During the first round,
I received an eye injury.
My opponent caught me
with a thumb in my eye.
I was seeing two people
the whole way through
the rest of the fight.
So to try and focus
on my opponent more,
I had to try and close
the eye that was injured,
so I just had one person
to look at.
But that was really hard
to do as well,
because I had punches
coming from
all different angles.
So instead of aiming
punches at her head,
you could see in the footage
I was aiming for the middle
of the blur, for her chest.
'Cause it was a bigger target.
I don't know how I did it.
I've never had to dig
that deep in a fight,
ever before in my life.
I had some kind
of higher power
helping me through that.
The coach was saying
he's never known anybody
to lose that much weight
and still perform.
It was very dangerous,
but I didn't want
to lose my title.
There was points
in that fight where
I could have easily
just gone back to the corner
and just told them like, no.
Just throw in the towel.
But I've got
a warrior's heart.
I'd rather go out
on my shield.
95 to 95.
This bout is a split draw.
Well, how about that?
When the draw was
announced and the crowd
was booing,
I felt really bad because
I know they expected
a lot more from
my performance.
I can see now watching
back at the footage,
how uncomfortable I looked.
I just wanted to
get out of the ring.
Straight after the fight
I ran to the toilet
and I just threw up.
I'd worked so hard
in that fight
and it just took
a really big toll on my body.
I went to go see
an eye specialist
and that's when he told me
that I'd torn my pupil
in two places.
So the main question
for me was, well,
"Is--is it fixable?"
"Can I keep boxing?"
Like, what's the deal?
And he said to me,
there's a chance that
if I did get caught
like that again,
I could go blind.
It was a risk that
I wasn't prepared to take.
She wanted to fight again.
She wasn't ready to retire.
She said if she'd have
lost her vision,
just for the feeling of
coming out on a positive note,
it just wouldn't have
been worth it.
And I think she realised
it was time to move on.
Boxing for me has
always been my safe space
since I was 13 years old,
so making the decision
to retire
wasn't an easy choice for me.
When she decided to retire,
I was, you know,
from a financial aspect
you can say, look,
we put a lot of investment
in this getting it,
getting her into the
position where she is.
And, which we did, but...
at the end of the day,
you've gotta respect her
As I say, she's the person
getting in the ring
and I respected it entirely.
I never--never sat her down
and tried to talk her
out of it at all.
You know, just wished her
the best for the future.
I do think that she probably
wasn't the best advised
on the pro side,
which for me is sickening
to watch because
I fought so hard
to get women's boxing
licensed that,
so that they didn't
have to do what I had to do.
I'd see so many female boxers
come and go over the years
that could have been
really good now
that had to just give it up
just to survive.
I just feel
with Nik that she was
just badly promoted.
She should have been on the
same level as Anthony Joshua,
who'd done the same
as her at the Olympics.
So why wasn't she?
Why wasn't she?
When boxing
was taken away,
it meant that I was forced
to face other problems that
I have with trauma
from my childhood.
It was quite overwhelming.
I could feel like,
my heart start to race
and I remember
saying to Ella like,
"I don't know why
I'm feeling like that
because I've never
had to deal with
any of those feelings before."
I'm starting to let
my guard down now
and I don't have to fight
to survive anymore.
Last words I actually
said to Nicola before the last
training session,
"It's gonna take off soon
because it looks like
they're gonna be first
to accept female boxing
in the Olympics.
And then it's
all go from there.
The world's your oyster."
And she just laughed at that.
And I said, "No, seriously.
It's gonna be massive.
It really is gonna be massive.
Make sure you're ready for it."
She said, "Ready for what?"
I said, "Whatever it is,
just ride it
till the wheels come off."
First she had
to acknowledge that
she's a winner.
She had a great sense
of who she was
and what she was capable of.
She was a pioneer in the sport.
Whenever I go anywhere,
and start talking
about boxing,
people say, "Oh, I know that,
I remember that girl
from Leeds."
She's still in their minds.
Everyone remembers
that girl from Leeds.
Her winning those
gold medals at the Olympic
have propelled these girls
to be inspired
to wanna, you know, reach
the, the heights that she did.
Her impact on the sport
I think'll be
truthfully felt
in the years to come.
The team now that
we've got involved in England
when I ask them you know,
what inspires them, you know,
why are they boxing,
quite often,
Nicola's name comes up.
"I wanna be
the next Nicola Adams."
The Olympics is
a pathway now for girls.
Team GB, there's girls
on the team and there's
boys on the team.
The girls get sent away
to the tournaments
the same as the boys get sent
away to the tournaments.
And that's because
of Nicola's gold medals.
She will continue
to change
people's view to what
women can be.
Boxing or
any fighting sport
is a completely different view
of what women
are perceived to be.
People need to know that
it's very empowering.
Every girl should know what
it feels like
to feel invincible.
Nikki's fight is
gonna make things
a lot easier for
the girls coming through.
It's all been like a path.
And it's always
leading the way.
She projects
enjoyment and happiness
and positivity and I think
for many, many years
we have struggled with
what's felt like a burden.
Not just a burden of shame
for the LGBTQ community,
but a weight we've felt
dragging us back,
and what I love about Nicola
is she powers forward.
I shouldn't be
where I am now.
I had so many people
telling me,
"No, you'll never be a boxer."
I just didn't want them
to project
what they see
as a future onto me.
I knew their limitations
weren't mine.
If I could tell
the 8-year-old me anything,
I'd tell her to not be afraid.
That life's gonna get better.
And I know there's times
when it's gonna be scary.
But you're so much stronger
than you realise.
Okay. We're done.