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A Bi Gold Medalist on Life in the Ring

Believe: Boxing, Olympics and My Life Outside of the Ring

Britain's Nicola Adams, the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal for boxing, discusses the art of her sport and her life as an out bisexual in a new memoir. Read an exclusive excerpt below.

Even though I'm 100 percent focused on the match when I'm boxing, it's hard not to notice the crowd around you. When I'm competing in things like the Olympics, the noise can be deafening; sometimes, it's so intense it becomes like white noise. It makes a huge difference if you know that the people in the crowd are supporting you. Sometimes you'll be boxing in a country where there will hardly be any British fans watching, and the atmosphere won't be the same for you. But I use it to power myself on -- if everyone is shouting for my opponent, I'll think, Right, I'm going to silence you all. If you're not cheering for me, you're not cheering for anyone.

You can only block out so much and sometimes things will filter through, but the only time the away crowd can be off- putting is when your opponent throws a punch at you and it's nowhere near you and people start shouting, 'Yeah, good shot!' I'll be like, 'No, it wasn't! It was nowhere near me! What are you watching?'

There's nothing like having your own supporters shouting your name. If you're boxing in front of your home crowd, it's amazing. The biggest crowd I've boxed in front of was at the Commonwealth Games, where 15,000 were watching. The smallest crowds have been about 300 to 400 people, so that's quite a difference, but as long as people are behind you it lifts you.

People think boxing is a really aggressive sport and that it's about beating people up, but it's just not. In my opinion, it's not a barbaric sport at all. I see it as a work of art. There's no denying it's aggressive -- at the end of the day, people are fighting and there's no sugar-coating that -- but there's also a lot of skill involved. I love the technical ability that's needed -- there's so much more to it than people think. It's not a case of you being able to do what you want or losing your temper and attacking someone; it's quite the opposite. If you start throwing punches randomly, that's when you could get into trouble, so you've got to be smart and you've got to be tactical. I feel terrible if I hurt someone, because that's never my goal, I just want to win. Of course, there's a level of danger involved, but you couldn't put someone who's never trained before in a ring and hope for the best. You can't just walk out and try and knock someone out, because that's not how it works. It's not about trying to hit someone as hard as you can and hoping they fall; it takes years of hard work. It's not one of those sports where you can decide you fancy giving it a go and then become a champion overnight. It takes so long to master. You can't 'play' boxing.

Excerpt from Believe: Boxing, Olympics and My Life Outside of the Ring by Nicola Adams (Viking/Penguin UK, distributed by Trafalgar Square Publishing)

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