Olympic boxer Nicola Adams on sexism, LGBT advocacy, and her dream acting role

"I don't have that time to hate and focus on somebody that's hating."


Words: Alastair James; pictures:

The British Olympic boxer, Nicola Adams, is sharing her thoughts on her career, boxing, her LGBTQ advocacy, and what her dream acting role would be, ahead of a new documentary looking at her life.

Adams, who won gold medals for Team TB in boxing at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics in London and Rio, tells her story in Lioness: The Nicola Adams Story, which was released on Amazon Prime last month.

Speaking to Openly/The Thomas Reuters Foundation, the gold medallist, 39, also discusses her time on Strictly Come Dancing, where she also made history as part of the show's first same-sex couple.

"I didn't see why it should have been a big deal"

The documentary looks back on Adams' career from her origins in Leeds all the way through to her Olympic success. Adams, notably was the first openly LGBT+ person to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing.

The boxer, who identifies as a lesbian, tells Openly that sexism has always been an issue in boxing, a male-dominated sport. She adds that there was an "adverse reaction" to women's boxing and that people thought women were "too precious and fragile to be able to do something like that". 

Turning to her LGBTQ advocacy and star turn on Strictly, Adams says: "I didn't see why it should have been a big deal anyway. I mean, women have been dancing with women for God knows how long."

Adams was paired with professional Katya Jones on the show. The pair performed well until they had to pull out due to Katya testing positive for Covid-19. 

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While she enjoyed her time on the show, Adams tells Openly that she would have liked the pair to have done dances with more of a fiery relationship rather than just as friends. "We should be able to show the passion of different dances."

She may have a point here given the dances we've seen from John Whaite and Johannes Radebe on this year's series, which have at times been filled with passion. 

Adams continues; "We need to get past the concept of women (being) seen as sexual objects. I think it will make it a lot easier for lesbians too, because automatically, as soon as someone sees a lesbian... (they're) sexualised straight away."

She also reveals that she disregards the hate and homophobes she experiences in person and online as "laughable" adding, "I don't have that time to hate and focus on somebody that's hating."

Finally, she reveals that her ambitions for her career extend bein boxing and dance, and include acting alongside Dwayne 'the Rock' Johnson. 

"My dream role would be a superhero in a Marvel movie," she says elaborating that she'd also "love to play a villain or a really deep character that's so far from the person that everybody sees me as - the happy, fun Nicola Adams."

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