Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams was in lockdown with her partner, beauty blogger Ella Baig, when she was asked to perform at this year's Strictly Come Dancing.
"I said," I'll do it, but only if I can dance with a woman, "she says." The producer said, "OK, I'll go to the bosses and talk to them." They came back to me and said, "Let's do this. We're totally behind you."
"I just thought it was great – amazing."
Pictured Olympic Boxing Champion Nicola Adams will be featured on Strictly Come Dancing later this year
37-year-old Nicola has emphasized that she will not run counter to the curse of Strictly Come Dancing
The pictured Nicola has a relationship with the beauty blogger Ella Baig pictured on the left
Nicola flashes the bright smile she loved so many of us when she became the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal for boxing in London in 2012. She was also the first openly gay person to do this.
She is thrilled to be half of the first same-sex couples on Strictly. As she puts it, “You dance with your friends in a club. We are in 2020. It is time to normalize women who dance with women. I'm happy to say that I'm a lesbian – not that I really agree with labels. "
Nicola claims she doesn't yet know who the other half of this BBC will be.
But the smart money goes to Katya Jones, who was married to her dancer Neil Jones until she was caught kissing her celebrity partner, comedian Seann Walsh, in 2018. She's made no secret of how much she wants to support this stance on girl power & # 39; – and the couple was pictured leaving their secret location a few days ago.
What would Nicolas friend Ella think of getting close to the sexy Russian babe?
"That makes her cool," says 37-year-old Nicola. “Strictly speaking, there are some really good things that can be done to reduce your risk of Covid-19. You gush with your dance partner and are not allowed to come into contact with the other participants or the other dancers.
Nicola, pictured with Ella, right, will be part of the first same-sex couple on the BBC show
"Ella bubbles with me. Our family and friends got upset about the Strictly Curse, but she's fine. She knows I love her and she makes me complete so no one else just gets closer.
"When you are in a relationship and you are completely satisfied, you no longer need anyone." There's nothing to compete with what Ella and I have. "
Nicola met Ella, 22, at a club two years ago when she was freshly separated from her fiancé, boxer Marlen Esparza.
"It's funny because it wasn't a bar I usually go to or a bar she usually goes to," says Nicola in the informal, chatty way that defines her. “I went there with my brother Kurtis for my birthday. She was there because she had just been to her friend's wedding.
“I remember seeing her on the dance floor. It was her eyes. She has really, really nice eyes. They are light green. She totally took my breath away. I went over and said, "Hey, do you want to dance?" We talked and that was it. "Nicolas full smile touches her ears.
The PAIR now share a home in Nicolas' hometown of Leeds, where they want to get married and start a family together. Who will have their first child? "Ella," she says.
Does Nicola intend to carry a baby too? "No," she says. "I don't feel like going through all of the hormone changes and everything." I've seen what the mood swings can do with friends. Anyway, Ella is more caring than me. I'm the one who takes out the trash cans. She doesn't like doing anything that messes up her nails. "This is said with the rich laugh that underscores much of this interview.
Nicola is a relentlessly optimistic woman who, I'm pretty sure, would find something to smile about even lying flat on her back in the ring. Let's assume that a torn high school student retired early in the past year.
In the first round of my last competition (defending her WBO flyweight title against Maria Salinas in the very first professional boxing match at the Royal Albert Hall) my opponent caught me with her thumb in the eye.
"It was a crazy accident that tore my student apart. During the entire competition, I saw two people and tried to aim at the person in the middle." She laughs again.
Nicola retained the title but was warned by an ophthalmologist that if she went back in the ring she could become visually impaired. "It wasn't a risk I wanted to take," she says.
"I had achieved so much in my boxing career." I just didn't want to risk my health. I was nervous about retiring from boxing all the time, but it was great.
"I enjoy doing all the things I couldn't do in competition – things that other people take for granted, like clubbing with my friends." I would miss birthdays and baptisms.
"Since I was in a weight controlled sport, I couldn't even go out to dinner and eat what everyone else was eating. It's nice to be able to live a little more."
Women's boxing wasn't even an Olympic sport when Nicola first dreamed of winning a gold medal at the age of 13. This was also the age at which she came to see her mother Dee.
Dee, a single mother, worked two jobs to support her children after leaving her father when Nicola was nine years old. Nicola adored her and wanted to support her.
“Before my mother left my father, my childhood was very up and down. I didn't like the way my father treated us. He was very controlling with my mother and me.
"My mother wasn't allowed to go anywhere alone. She wasn't allowed to have friends. She wasn't allowed to have a life at all.
"He would get violent with both of us. Because I have ADHD, I was very hyperactive in my youth, so it was very, very difficult for me to keep quiet, especially when he was watching TV. So I kept getting into trouble with my father. Sometimes I felt like I was being hit for no reason.
“When I was around nine years old, I told my mother that I thought we had to go. I think I wrote about this in my book (her autobiography Believe: Boxing, Olympics, and Life Outside the Ring, published in 2017).
“I saw a TV show about a family who went through the same situation as us. In the end they killed the father and buried him in the garden.
I remember saying to my mother, “It will be fine. I saw a way we can get rid of dad on TV. I just don't know where we're going to put the body because our garden is made of concrete. ”
"That was a pretty big wake-up call for my mother."
Her mother went to a warehouse before buying herself and her children a house in Leeds, where Nicola remembers "a nice garden in front and back to play with".
She came up with the sport that would make her a household name if her mother, who couldn't babysit, booked Nicola and her brother to boxing class so she could take her aerobics class.
Nicola loved it. “My father was a fan of boxing and Muhammad Ali was my hero. I remember thinking, "This must have been how Muhammad Ali felt." It gave me a lot more confidence knowing that I could defend myself and take care of my mother and brother.
"When my mother and father were together there were many times when I couldn't help my mother because I was just a kid, so not very tall. As much as I screamed and tried, I was pushed aside, so I couldn't really do anything. "
Nicola won her first national title at the age of 13. "I knew then that I wanted to be an Olympic champion," she says. “It was really satisfying to know that the more I put into my training, the better I got.
“I wanted my family to have a better life and I saw boxing as a way out. I saw mom worked hard and I wanted to make her happy. "
In fact, Nicola was so careful about pissing off her mother that it took several weeks before she found the courage to tell her she was gay.
“I was 13 when I knew I wasn't as interested in men as I was in women. I was really scared of what was going to happen. It wasn't something that was taught in school then, so I wasn't sure whether I was gay or bisexual. "
Nicolas face softens and she falls silent for a moment. “When I was younger, I always thought how much I liked a friend. It wasn't until I got older that I realized it was something more, if that made sense.
“I told my best friend first. I wanted her opinion. We'd been best friends since kindergarten, but I was even scared to tell her. She was perfectly fine and said I should tell my mom.
“I remember thinking for weeks about what I was going to say and wondering how she would react to it. Would she be mad? Would she be sad? Would she deny me
“I told her in the kitchen. She just said, "Don't worry. Put the kettle on." It felt like a weight had just been lifted from me. "
That's why she's so persistent on mainstream shows like Strictly and can't shy away from issues of sexuality. She doesn't want anyone to ever feel as isolated as she does.
"When I think back now, things should have been so different a long time ago," says Nicola, who was 14 years old when she had her first love affair.
"Trust has always been difficult for me," she says. "I had to work to trust someone and know that I would not be hurt or that they would be abusive."
“I was 18 when I got my first real relationship. I had started going to London and I thought it was great.
“There was this whole world that I never knew existed when I first went to a gay bar. I said, "Wow, there are actually people like me." I had found somewhere where I felt I belonged. It was safe and it was okay to be me. I think every gay person knows what it is like to feel alone and you never want anyone else to feel that way. "
She was single and "lived my best life," says Nicola when she won her Olympic gold.
"It was incredible to realize this dream of becoming an Olympic champion – a dream I've had since 13 – in my home country and then to be the first boxing gold for women in history."
Honors followed: an MBE for services to boxing in 2013 and an OBE four years later. When she won a second gold at the Beijing Olympics, she topped the DIVA Power List of Britain's most important lesbian and bisexual women.
"I hadn't gone all over the country from anyone who knew who I was to know who I was." I was absolutely blown away. I was shocked at how much the whole country spent on women boxing and on me. “It rattles away. "I was able to buy my mother a house and my brother a house.
"The biggest discrimination I've had in my whole life wasn't about my sexuality. It wasn't racism – even though someone in school called me" n **** r ". It was a woman in a male-dominated sport. "That's the hardest thing I've had to deal with."
"I get comments like," Why don't you play tennis? "or" You are too pretty to be a boxer. "That only made me change something.
"I think women have had to take that first step and change something throughout history."
That brings us, of course, to Strictly and the steps to the cha-cha change that she will take next week when she hits the dance floor with her partner.
"I do the lifts," she says and smiles again.
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) tvshowbiz (t) Strictly Come Dancing