Adams’s dream turning to reality in London

0
Have your say

Ordinarily, a preliminary boxing bout between fighters from Russia and North Korea would yield not so much as a blip on the Olympic radar.

But when Elena Savelyeva and Hye Song Kim take to the ring at ExCeL at 1.30pm tomorrow, they will find themselves the subject of unprecedented attention as the first female boxers to compete at an Olympic Games.

Thirty-six female boxers from 23 different nations, fighting across three weight divisions, are making history in London, and their level of performance is likely to dictate whether the women’s boxing programme is to be expanded for Rio in 2016.

For boxers like Nicola Adams, the 29-year-old, three-time world silver medallist from Leeds, who has fought for years with no funding and little acclaim, it is a day she neither expected nor even dared hope for when she first pulled on a pair of gloves.

“My motivation was just my love for the sport,” said Adams, who has a first-round bye in the flyweight division, and will begin her campaign on Monday.

“I grew up with my family watching boxing. My dad would always put the big fights on TV and it would be a family event, everybody would come round to watch the boxing.

“I always hoped women’s boxing would be a part of the Olympics because it’s every athletes dream to go to a Games. So when the announcement was made I was over the moon.

“It’s nice to have a bit of recognition for all the years I’ve been training. I used to look up to Muhammad Ali, and it’s a great feeling to know that now kids who are just starting in the sport will have a female to look up to as well.”

Inevitably, women’s boxing has had to battle prejudices to earn its place at the Olympics. Two of Britain’s top promoters, Frank Warren and Frank Maloney, have spoken previously of their distaste for the sport.

Even within the amateur code, there has been resistance from the likes of Cuba, who refuse to countenance the idea of women boxing, and from traditionalists concerned at the reduction in qualifying places for men in order to accommodate the women.