Boxing champion Nicola Adams on the fight for equality in sport

Nicola Adams.

Nicola Adams.

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Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams has claimed she hopes her success and popularity has helped to advance equality for women in the sport.

The Leeds-born fighter also said she was strongly considering turning professional to emulate her hero, Muhammad Ali, when she was interviewed yesterday as a guest editor on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

She added that would love to be the person to boost the profile of women’s pro boxing, adding she hoped to “make boxing as equal as possible for women alongside the men”.

On turning professional, Adams said fans would have to “wait and see” but admitted the prospect was “very exciting”.

“I’ve been thinking about it, the thought of being able to become a world champion like my hero Muhammad Ali is very exciting. I’d love to be able to be this person that makes this big difference and gets women’s boxing on equal par with the men.

“My dream 2017 would be deciding whether or not I go professional or stay amateur and fulfil the goals there. It’s all about money in the professional game so you’ve got all that to contend with. If you have a bad performance it affects your future fights and your earnings. It’s like a job basically, you’re fighting to live.”

She said she was grateful to Jane Couch, who became the first officially licensed female boxer in 1998 and won numerous titles during a 15-year career.

Adams told the programme yesterday that she was an ambassador for charity Fight for Hope – which helps young people through boxing and martial arts – because of the way that sport can give teenagers who have may personal difficulties a way to achieve their potential.

In the programme, retired boxer Ricky Hatton, 38, admitted he tried to kill himself several times during a battle with depression and that more needed to be done to support boxers and retired boxers with mental health issues.

He said: “I used to go to the pub, come back, take the knife out and sit there in the dark crying hysterically.

“But in the end I thought I’ll end up drinking myself to death because I was so miserable. I was coming off the rails with my drinking and that led to drugs. It was like a runaway train.

“More should be done for boxers. Footballers have an agent who looks out for them and a football club that gets behind them. Whereas boxers, it’s like once your time has gone it’s ‘on your way’ and move on to the next champion coming through.”

Adams added: “I’ve heard Ricky say before that when he lost to Floyd [Mayweather] and to [Manny] Pacquiao, and then had the comeback fight, which he lost again, that it was just going from such a high, winning everything, to losing three fights in a row and it must have been quite tough for him. I think he felt he had let a lot of his fans down, which he didn’t – we know that he gave everything he had in the ring.”

She claimed boxing needed more female ambassadors as with mixed-martial arts competition Ultimate Fighting Championship, in which American Ronda Rousey is often considered to have pioneered the sport for women.

Adams said: “The women’s side of professional boxing is not really up there yet but I think it needs just a couple of big names to bring on the sport, like Ronda did for UFC.”

Her contribution as guest editor for Today marks the second time in two months she has appeared on BBC Radio 4 after featuring as a guest on Desert Island Discs in November.

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