Strictly Come Dancing star Nicola Adams is ready to ‘break down boundaries’

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With European, Commonwealth and world boxing titles to go with a groundbreaking Olympic gold medal she has already broken her fair share of boundaries as an elite sportswoman. 

But retired boxer Nicola Adams will go one step further in September when she becomes the first celebrity contestant in Strictly Come Dancing‘s 16-year history to compete as part of a same-sex couple. 

Adams, who shares a home with model girlfriend Ella Baig in Leeds, was unveiled as one of 12 new contestants on the mainstream BBC show some 10-months after her boxing career was curtailed by an eye injury. 

Bold move: Nicola Adams says she is ready to break boundaries in September when she becomes the first celebrity contestant in Strictly Come Dancing's 16-year history to compete as part of a same-sex couple

Bold move: Nicola Adams says she is ready to break boundaries in September when she becomes the first celebrity contestant in Strictly Come Dancing’s 16-year history to compete as part of a same-sex couple

And the 37-year old is ready to make history after insisting her participation hinged on being given a female partner. 

She told the Guardian: ‘I guess it’s just breaking those boundaries and showing people that it’s OK.

‘It’s not such an uncommon thing: professional dancers dance with people of the same sex all the time; you dance in a nightclub with your friends. 

Happy couple: Retired boxer Adams shares a home with model girlfriend Ella Baig in Leeds

Happy couple: Retired boxer Adams shares a home with model girlfriend Ella Baig in Leeds

‘I just wanted to break down the thing of it being a big deal when it’s not really a big deal.’ 

With her dance partner yet to be confirmed, Adams believes she will be given the male role when the show gets underway because of her aversion to traditionally feminine clothes, adding:  ‘Dresses aren’t my thing.’ 

Adams enters the competition after male professional dancers Johannes Radebe and Graziano Di Prima performed a same sex routine during the show’s seventeenth series in 2019. 

Triumph: With European, Commonwealth and world boxing titles to go with a groundbreaking Olympic gold medal she has already broken her fair share of boundaries as a sportswoman

Triumph: With European, Commonwealth and world boxing titles to go with a groundbreaking Olympic gold medal she has already broken her fair share of boundaries as a sportswoman

While the dance – conducted during a performance by pop star Emeli Sande – was met with an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response on social media, it prompted 200 complaints with TV regulator Ofcom. 

For Adams, her own same-sex routines will be another opportunity to redefine the woman’s role after being subjected to criticism as an ambitious teenager keen to make her mark in a largely male dominated sport.   

Recalling some of the comments directed at her by coaches, she said: ‘Like: “Why don’t you play tennis?” or: “Women should be in the kitchen cooking.” You’d hear comments like that all the time.’  

Setting the tone: Adams enters the competition after male professional dancers Johannes Radebe and Graziano Di Prima performed a same sex routine during the show's seventeenth series in 2019

Setting the tone: Adams enters the competition after male professional dancers Johannes Radebe and Graziano Di Prima performed a same sex routine during the show’s seventeenth series in 2019

The former boxer is also aware of her position as an openly gay woman in the public eye, and with it her place as an LGBTQ+ role model to the younger generation.   

She added: ‘I know there will be kids who are struggling. And I’d just like them to know that it doesn’t matter about your sexuality or what colour you are, you really can achieve anything you want to if you work hard.’

Filming for the new series is reportedly scheduled to begin in September, with the professional dancers’ group routines to be pre-recorded after they completed two weeks in isolation. 

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