At the age of 34, British boxer Nicola Adams will be turning professional. Having been involved in boxing since the age of 13, the two-times Olympic champion has already had an illustrious career as an amateur.
Many would think that 34 is perhaps the time when athletes are thinking about bringing their careers to a close, but there is no golden rule as to when and how that moment should occur. When Anthony Joshua faces Wladimir Klitschko in April this year, the Ukrainian former heavyweight world champion will have already turned 41. There is still time for Adams to be successful as a professional, lay down a legacy, and serve as a pioneer for female boxing.
The sport has come a long way in the UK since women’s boxing was first aired on the BBC in 2010, as well as Nicola Adams winning the first ever women’s boxing Olympic gold medal in the flyweight division.
Frank Warren, the boxing promoter who signed Adams, believes that the Brit still has the capability to reach the pinnacle of her sport in the professional field, as well as the capability of defending her crown.
“I think Nicola will be challenging for world titles within a year. We intend to lead her to become a multiple world champion.”
The cliche of ‘reaching the top’ is every sportsperson’s dream. When Nico Rosberg finally won the Formula One world title last year he promptly retired. Likewise, the fastest man in the world Usain Bolt, will bow out of athletics at this year’s World Championships in London shortly before his 31st birthday, having won multiple World and Olympic titles.
Last summer, when preparing for Rio 2016, Adams remained optimistic about her chances of victory and did not view her age as a hindrance.
“I feel I’m better than I was in London because boxing is a sport where you’re always learning, you’re never the finished article. You can always be faster, always be stronger, you can always be a more technical fighter and that’s what I love about it.”
Adams will, no doubt, continue with this mentality into her professional career, which kicks off at the Manchester Arena on April 8. The decision for Adams to turn professional was not made without reservations, however. Adams solicited the advice of IBF heavyweight world champion, Anthony Joshua.
“He said I’d love it; the lights, the cameras, being able to control your own destiny,” recalls Adams.
Likewise, Warren has been skeptical about the quality of women’s boxing, although he admitted that seeing Adams’ dominance in the ring has swayed this opinion.
“The quality’s moved on tremendously; what Nicola’s done in winning two gold medals… there’s no doubt about it it’s improved. It’s our job to get her out there and give her the opportunity to win a world title.”
This could be a breakthrough in professional female boxing as, in comparison to men’s boxing in the USA, women’s boxing has not been so popular in recent years. This is perhaps due to the fact that in America, women’s boxing has been eclipsed by women’s MMA (mixed martial arts), which has seen the rise of its top female star Ronda Rousey elevated to celebrity status after a flawless start of 12 wins in professional MMA.
Prior to two losses, in April 2015, Rousey was confident that she was the best fighter in the world, yet just a few months later she suffered her first professional defeat to fellow American Holly Holm, before being mercilessly torn apart in 48 seconds by Brazilian Amanda Nunes next time out.
It is this level of competitiveness that needs to be seen in professional women’s boxing too so that it can gain more notoriety. Nicola Adams might just be the woman to do it.
Image courtesy of Kent Capture