Adams’s success key to massive leap forward

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The historic exploits of Yorkshire’s Nicola Adams at London 2012 have helped bridge the gap between female and male participation in sport.

The Leeds boxer became the first woman to win the Olympic title at the ExCel Arena last summer, and her charming nature allied with a devastating left-right combo helped break down boundaries in women’s boxing.

The upshot is that more girls are taking up boxing than ever before.

Sport England report that boxing has been one of the key contributors in driving a year-on-year increase of 89,900 in women participating in sport.

That puts the overall figure at 6.69m active women, with Sport England saying that “further narrows the gender gap in sport”.

In total, women’s boxing participation is up 15,500 over the last 18 months, which is a remarkable increase of more than 50 per cent since before the Olympics.

A Sport England spokesman referred to the upwards trends as representing “extremely high growth” and that boxing has seen the biggest upturn in women’s sport.

Those figures in practice are best demonstrated at the Hunslet Club which caters for 2,000 boys and girls in sports such as boxing, gymnastics, football and rugby.

Hunslet’s funding and marketing officer Jason Slack said: “We have seen a dramatic upturn in interest since the Olympics.

“There was a good few more girls that came along to do boxing after London 2012, probably about two dozen or so.

“It’s a male dominated sport but straight after Nicola Adams there was a lot more girls that came in to try boxing.

“But not only boxing, what Nicola did inspired girls to take up other sports.

“In terms of raising the profile of women’s sport, the Olympic legacy has really worked for us.”

That will delight Adams, 30, who in the wake of her Olympic triumph spoke of how she hoped her memorable run to the gold medal in London would help inspire young girls to take up boxing and follow in her footsteps.

“That’s what I want to see, more girls getting into boxing and participating, it would be really good for the sport,” said Adams after she outpointed China’s Ren Cancan in the first Olympic flyweight final.

“When I retire I want to see girls coming through and wanting to achieve what I have done, that would be an amazing feeling.

“When I first got into boxing Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard were my favourites and I wanted to do that, and if young girls see me winning gold and want to get into boxing because of that then I’ll have achieved everything I want to.

“To think that girls will now have female role models to look up to...I think that’s great for the sport.

“I can’t believe the support we’ve had (in London) and it’s great how Britain has got behind women’s boxing.

“If I have any message it is that whether you’re doing boxing or whatever sport, even if it’s just a job you’re after, if you work hard you can achieve anything.”

Elsewhere, a boxing initiative run in partnership with mosques in South Yorkshire has got more than 1,500 older teenagers involved in the sport, according to Sport England.