Badassness: Nicola was born and raised in Leeds, West Yorkshire, U.K. She started boxing and competing early, with her first bout (which she won) at the age of 13. When she was 19 she became the first woman boxer to represent England, and in 2003 she became the English amateur champion, a title she held for three more years, and then began competing and medaling in the European championships.
In 2007 she found herself struggling to continue boxing due to funding issues, so she worked as an extra on British soap operas such as Coronation Street, Emmerdale, and EastEnders. She also suffered a back injury and had to stop training while healing. In 2009, women’s Olympic boxing began to be funded, and Nicola could return to her passion.
In the 2012 Summer Olympics, Nicola made history as the first Olympic women’s boxing gold medalist, as well as the first openly LGBTQ athlete to win Olympic gold in boxing. She is competing for Great Britain again in the 2016 Summer Olympics to defend her title.
Bisexuality: Nicola says she came out publicly as bisexual because she “had always been out, it’s just the general public didn’t know.” She was named the U.K.’s most influential LGBT person in the Independent’s 2012 Pink List.
Of her decision to be open about her orientation, Nicola also said, “I’ve always been an open person and I just thought that it might help other people if I talked about everything. It’s being me that inspired people so I’m just going o carry on doing that.”