A look back at the amazing career of boxer Nicola Adams on the day she hangs up her gloves for good

Adams' last fight was against Maria Salinas (PA Images)
Adams' last fight was against Maria Salinas (PA Images)
13:59pm, Wed 06 Nov 2019
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Boxing's Nicola Adams announced this morning she is hanging up her gloves after an illustrious career over fears she could lose her sight.

The 37-year-old from Leeds said: "I'm immensely honoured to have represented our country - to win double Olympic gold medals and then the WBO championship belt is a dream come true… but it's not without taking its toll on my body."

Her promoter throughout her professional career, Frank Warren, said: "Her accomplishments will go down in history and she will always be an icon of British sport. 

"It is no secret that I, along with many others, once held reservations over the depth and marketability of women’s boxing in this country and it was Nicola who won us all over with her Olympic exploits, her unquestionable talent and huge personality."

Adams, alongside such famous names as women's boxing pioneer Jane Couch and Ireland's current sensation Katie Taylor, has been in the forefront of promoting the female game to where it is now. She was the first woman to ever win a gold medal at the Olympics in 2012 and went on to defend her title in 2016 - the first British boxer to do so in 94 years.

The athlete, nicknamed The Lioness and Babyface, also won Commonwealth, European and World titles despite a back injury that meant she couldn't compete throughout 2009.

All of this came after an early start when, at the age of 12, her mother took her to a gym. She's never looked back.

As well as being a pioneer for female boxers, she has also spoken openly about her sexuality and became the first openly LGBT+ person to win an Olympic gold medal.

Speaking in 2016, she said: “I would like to do more for the LGBT community, try to help people. I can’t do as much as I would like because of the training.”

Here, we look at the tale of the tape for a boxer who inspired a generation.

2001: Adams is the first female boxer to represent England.

2003: Becomes the English amateur champion, a title that she held for three consecutive years.

Before and after: Adams at the start and end of her career (Nicola Adams Instagram)

2007: The first English female boxer to win a medal at a major tournament, securing a silver medal in the bantamweight division at the European Championships in Denmark.

2008: Secures another silver medal in the bantamweight division, this time at the World Championships in China.

Before the International Olympic Committee backed funding for female boxers in 2009, Adams worked as an extra on soaps Emmerdale, Coronation Street and EastEnders. She also worked as a builder in order to pay for her boxing career.

2009: Unable to compete this year due to a back injury. 

Speaking about the injury a few years later, she said: "The physio and doctors said I'd be back well in time [for the 2012 Olympics] but I couldn’t see what they were seeing. The first day I did physio I remember I couldn't do one sit-up – before I could do 300."

2010: Makes her boxing comeback at the World Championships in Barbados where she picks up silver once again but this time in the flyweight division.

Later in the year Adams wins the inaugural GB Amateur Boxing Championship in Liverpool.

Adams celebrated many medals and wins throughout her career (Team GB Instagram)

2011: Adams wins her first European gold medal in the flyweight division in Katowice, Poland.

After the bout she said: "This means so much to me - not only have I won European gold but I've also earned valuable ranking points. This is one of the high points of my career but Olympic gold is my real focus now."

Adams proudly holds up the first ever female boxing Olympic gold medal (PA Images) - (Copyright PA Images)

2012: If people didn't know who Adams was before the London 2012 Olympics they certainly did after the event. She became Olympic champion after defeating world No 1 Ren Cancan in the final, making her the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing.

She said: "It feels great and I’ve done what I set out to do as a 12-year-old. It’s a fairytale ending for me. All my life I have been watching footage of Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, all the old fighters getting their gold medals, thinking one day I’ll do that. And now I have.”

2013: Adams retains her European Championship gold in Keszthely, Hungry after beating Stokya Petrova in the final.

She is awarded an MBE for her services to boxing.

Nicola Adams won gold at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games (PA Images)

2014: Adams continues her winning ways defeating Michaela Walsh in the final at the Commonwealth Games, the first time the sport had been contested.

2016: Adams breaks another record at the Rio Olympics by defending her title to win gold after defeating France's Sarah Ourahmoune.

Adams retains her Olympic title at Rhio in 2016 (PA Images)

In retaining the title she became the first female boxer to retain an Olympic gold and the first British boxer, male or female, to retain the title in 92 years, the last being Harry Malin in 1924.

Adams said: “I’m now the most accomplished British amateur boxer of all time. It’s a nice title to have. To be honest, it feels pretty much the same this time [as in London]. 

"I’ve had a massive amount of support from Yorkshire and the rest of the nation. I feel like I have all their support in the ring with me, every punch I was throwing.”

Nicola Adams turned pro in 2017 (PA Images)

2017: Decides to turn professional under promoter Frank Warren.

The boxer had three bouts that year and won all of them. The first was against Argentina's Virginia Noemi Carcamo, who she beat on points in Manchester. She also defeated Maryan Salazar and Soledad Macedo, both by TKO.

Adams also received an OBE for her services to boxing.

Nicola Adams is unbeaten in five professional bouts (PA Images)

2018: Adams continues her unbeaten pro-boxing career as she beats Soledad del Valle Frias by knock-out in May.

She then wins her first title against Isabel Milan to attain the WBO World Flyweight belt.

Adams retained her WBO Flyweight title after a split decision (PA Images)

2019: Adams retains the WBO Flyweight belt against Malina Salinas at the Royal Albert Hall.

November 6, 2019: Announces her retirement at the age of 37 after being warned she risked damaging her sight if she continued in the ring.

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