Double Olympic champion Nicola Adams OBE will trade her boxing gloves for a pas de deux or two later this year as part of Strictly Come Dancing’s first same-sex couple.
The world’s first female Olympic boxing medallist is on course to set yet another record, this time making the LGBTQ history books, by being paired with a female professional dancer in a groundbreaking move for the hit BBC show.
Bosses at Strictly Come Dancing, one of British TV’s most-watched programmes with over eight million viewers, announced the news today.
“I wanted to thank the BBC for supporting me and making me the first ever all female-pairing,” the Olympian said today. “It’s amazing to be a part of the movement for change, diversity and breaking boundaries in the entertainment industry.”
Strictly Come Dancing producers said last year that they were “completely open” to the prospect of including same sex pairings on the show, in a notion supported by judge Craig Revel-Horwood, who remarked that “maybe the BBC will be brave enough one day to do it”.
“I think more and more people want it,” he told BBC News in 2018. “I think it would be rather fun.”
The BBC today unveiled more of the first celebrities to appear in this year’s show, which will be formatted slightly differently due to coronavirus restrictions.
Radio 1’s Clara Amfo, ITV presenter Ranvir Singh, actor Caroline Quentin, former American football player Jason Bell and The Wanted singer Max George will all don their dancing shoes alongside Adams for the 2020 line-up.
Men Behaving Badly star Quentin said: “I am thrilled and terrified in equal measure to be taking part.” Amfo said: “To be taught by a pro and live a fantasy is something that I can’t wait to fully embrace, see you on the dancefloor!”
Adams breezed her way to smashing a world record (and a fairly significant glass ceiling) at London 2012 when she claimed the first female Olympic boxing gold, a title she retained at the Rio Olympics four years later.
Her win is credited with paving the way to a new reality for girls who are drawn to boxing, with new facilities and training programmes opening up as a result of her victory.
It also sparked a fresh interest in women’s boxing. When Adams first starting training aged 12 she recalls being the only girl in the class and even her own trainer was reluctant to take her on. But the female boxing scene has progressed a lot since then, in large part thanks to the visibility that Adams has given the sport.
Adams, who has been in a relationship with her beauty blogger girlfriend Ella Baig for two years, is also hailed as a role model for the LGBTQ community.
“It would be nice to live in a world where you didn’t have to make that statement [about coming out],” the boxer told the Gay Times in a recent interview. “Straight people don’t have to. They don’t have to tell people, ‘By the way, I’m heterosexual’ and why should it be like that?”
“I didn’t mind, and still don’t, having that role model thing put on me,” she added. “I liked the idea that I might inspire people just by doing what I was doing and winning medals.”
The bisexual boxer retired from professional sport late last year after her eye was damaged in a fight.
This year’s edition of Strictly Come Dancing is likely to start in October and will run a shorter season due to coronavirus precautions, but rehearsals are already underway. We can’t wait…