Nicola Adams has announced her retirement from boxing, aged 37, with the two-time Olympic champion and current WBO flyweight world champion at risk of losing her sight.
In an open letter written to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Adams’ local paper, she revealed that continuing her in-ring career risked serious, and possibly life-changing, injury.
She won the vacant WBO belt against Isabel Milan in 2018, less than 18 months after he first professional bout, and bows out with an unbeaten professional record of five wins and one draw.
“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,” she wrote.
“But it’s not without taking its toll on my body, and aside from the expected aches and pains, I’ve been advised that any further impact to my eye would most likely lead to irreparable damage and permanent vision loss.
“It has been an honour to compete on the global stage, and it has been a privilege to fight against such remarkable athletes. Whilst I am proud of my achievements, the unwavering belief from everyone in my corner, is something I will appreciate for the rest of my life.
“To my wonderful team, I would not be the fighter I am today without your encouragement and understanding – what you have taught me goes beyond the ring. Particularly special thanks go to the wonderful Alwyn Belcher, my coach and personal mentor of many years.
“Hanging up my gloves was always going to hard, but I have never felt luckier, And I’m so immensely proud of how far the sport has come.”
Adams took up boxing at the age of 12 after taking a class while accompanying her mother to the gym and quickly developed a dream to win Olympic gold – an ambitious aim given female divisions would not even be contested at the games until her crowning moment in 2012.
After becoming the first English woman to represent England in 2001 she went on to claim silver medals at European and World levels between 2007/08.
Her fame reached new peaks with a thrilling, crowd-pleasing triumph at the London Olympics, defeating rival and world number one Ren Cancan 16-7 in front of a sold out ExCeL Centre. In an event littered with joyous triumphs for Team GB, hers was one of the most memorable.
There were further successes at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the European Games in Baku and the World Championships in Astana, before she beat Sarah Ourahmoune in Brazil to become the first Briton to retain an Olympic boxing title since 1924.
After taking the plunge into the professional arena, Adams won each of her first four fights – including a celebratory homecoming win over Soledad del Valle Frias at Leeds’ First Direct Arena. That earned her a world title shot against Millan, whom Adams defeated in a unanimous decision in Leicester.
She managed one defence in September, a draw with Maria Salinas proving to be her final appearance before her decision to exit the stage.
Adams’ promoter Frank Warren paid tribute to her career and believes her accomplishments will “go down in history”.
Writing on frankwarren.com, he said: “It was my absolute pleasure and privilege to promote the professional career of Nicola and it is just a pity that it has come to a conclusion.
“Nicola has that star quality in abundance that very few possess which will see her make a success of whatever she chooses to do.
“I am personally delighted that we guided Nicola to the winning of a world title and that she was able to realise that ambition in the professional ranks.
“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.
“She will be much missed in the sport of boxing, but will remain an inspiration to others for many generations to come.”
Mark England, Team GB Chef de Mission in Rio 2016, offered glowing praise.
“Nicola is the embodiment of modern Team GB in so many respects,” he said in a statement to the PA news agency.
“A double Olympic champion, she is an icon of her sport, having shaped the past decade for boxing and Olympic boxing in particular. It’s hard to imagine a more loved athlete amongst the British public.”