When you think of boxing, especially in America, inevitably "Eye of the Tiger" starts drifting through your head, while images of Sylvester Stallone running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art pop up. Maybe you picture Hilary Swank being trained by a reluctant Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby. If you're a real fan, you can almost see Muhammad Ali defeating Joe Frazier III.
You might not know who Nicola Adams is, but you should. As Britain's most notable boxer, she has certainly earned herself a top spot in the pantheon of the sport. Unfortunately, she is retired, so catching a match is highly unlikely, but her life is certainly worth learning about. What does a retired boxer do? Where is Nicola Adams now? Just waiting on the bell to start!
Where is Nicola Adams now?
A documentary that centers around Nicola's life is slated to be released on Amazon Prime Video on Nov. 12. Lioness: The Nicola Adams Story will share with the world the battles she fought to get to where she is today, primarily focusing on her struggles against racism and sexism. Boxing quickly became a safe space for Nicola, both from the horrors of the world and the tragedies within her own life.
Nicola opened up about her childhood in an interview with The Guardian. "I was beaten by my dad, and it wasn’t until my mum, my brother, and I left, and I started boxing, that things changed," she revealed. She went on to say that boxing gave her courage, not just to defend herself, but to heal from the trauma of her own father's abuse. "If it wasn’t for boxing, I don’t know where I’d be now," she said.
What can we expect from the documentary?
Directed by Helena Coan (Audrey), who brought a much-needed sensitive perspective to the project, it takes a deep dark dive into Nicola's life. For Nicola, the experience of making the film was therapeutic. “I was going through memories I thought I’d forgotten about and they were coming back to life ... But at some points, it was really painful because I was bringing up old feelings I haven’t talked about since I was really young."
Helena also uses the plight of other female boxers to further highlight the sexism and inequality in boxing, women like Jane Couch, Savannah Marshall, and Amanda Coulson. However, it's Nicola's personal story that is the thread throughout the film. We see that being tasked to protect her mother from her father and subsequent abusive relationships were part of what led Nicola to the sport. It's the sport that saved her and her family.
How did Nicola find boxing?
She discovered boxing in the 1990s when women were banned from the sport in a professional sense in Britain. That's mostly why after her first fight at 12, she didn't step into the ring again until she was 16. A mere four years after that saw Nicola winning her first international tournament in Hungary, but the process wasn't easy. Nicola had to pay for the entire trip herself, under the impression that winning medals would get her funding. That wasn't the case.
She still had to pay for herself when she went to China in 2008 for the world championships. She still managed to win a silver medal despite being exhausted. "I remember being on the coach on the way to the venue for the first match and I had to drink two cans of energy drink to stay awake," she told The Guardian.
In 2012, the Olympic Games in London gave Nicola the perfect opportunity to show the entire world what she was capable of. She took home the gold and also took home the title of the first female boxer to become an Olympic champion. Then in 2016, at the Olympics in Rio, Nicola did it again.
Unfortunately, doctors advised her that if she continued to box, she risked going blind in a damaged eye. Nicola retired soon after that and now lives happily with her partner Ella and their dog. She is currently focused on acting, and when asked by The Guardian what advice she would give her younger self, she said, "Stick at what you're doing."
Lioness: The Nicola Adams Story premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Nov. 12.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.