Nicola Adams: Boxing’s PR Saviour?

Written by George Forrester

It’s fair to say that the reputation of boxing in the UK isn’t quite what it used to be. Obscene pay-per-view and ticket prices, fighters avoiding their most dangerous rivals and the all-encompassing nature of Premier League football in the nation’s sporting psyche has meant that the glory days of millions tuning in to watch Chris Eubank, Frank Bruno and Nigel Benn on terrestrial TV look unrepeatable.

The industry’s negative reputation has been exacerbated by some terrible recent cases of severe brain injury, or even death, in the ring. In recent years boxing has become, on the whole, a fringe concern, relegated to a few paragraphs alongside horse racing and darts in the doldrums of the sports pages.

However, there is nothing quite like the pride that Britain exudes for its Olympic medallists and Anthony Joshua, who claimed the super-heavyweight boxing gold at London 2012, has seemingly been on a one-man mission to bring boxing to the mainstream since turning professional a year later. Thus far, he has been a roaring success. His upcoming fight with former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko sold out Wembley Stadium in a matter of minutes and will undoubtedly break all box office records.

Female success key for Boxing’s image?

Many believe that what British boxing needs to regain mainstream acceptance is the emergence of a true female superstar in the professional ranks. In Nicola Adams, two-time Olympic champion, we may have found it. Adams is a phenomenal talent in the ring, but she is also a PR goldmine at a time when the sport needs it most.

While most boxers upon turning pro talk about winning titles and attaining personal glory, Nicola seems aware of her wider role as an ambassador for boxing, particularly for women, aiming to “take it to a new level”. Softly spoken, confident and humble, even those unaware of her accomplishments in boxing might be aware of her sponsorship work with likes of Mitsubishi, Marks & Spencer and Virgin Active. Her journey from humble beginnings in Leeds to overcome boxing’s gender gap has captured our imaginations. This is yet another example of the power of the human interest aspect of storytelling to develop positive public relations.

Paddy Hobbs, head of sport at PR agency Pretty Green, explained that Adams has the potential to “become one of the most sought-after athletes in Britain when it comes to brand partnerships”. However, PR/advertising success in sport, naturally, is closely tied to competitive achievement, and she must continue to punch above her weight in order to maintain the attention of the public. As a boxing fan myself, I’ll be cheering her on all the way.