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Coach Alwyn Belcher praises 'special' fighter
The cheers were deafening yesterday at the Bradford gym where the first woman boxer in Olympic history to win a gold medal learned her craft.
Nicola Adams’s sensational victory was watched by her coach, Alwyn Belcher, and fellow boxers at Huggy’s Amateur Boxing Club, off Manchester Road, where she trains at weekends.
The 29-year-old former Bradford College student, who used to fight for Bradford Police Boys’ Club, punched her way to gold in four electrifying rounds yesterday, even flooring her old foe and three-time world champion Ren Cancan from China in the second round of the flyweight bout.
And her success was a belated birthday present for her 78-year-old coach Mr Belcher, who willed her on as he watched – dodging and ducking on the spot with cries of ‘Come on Nicky, give that smile, get that beam going’.
Mr Belcher, who has coached her since she was 15, had tickets to watch the final in London’s East End but decided not to go in case he got too loud.
“I’d have been right there at the ringside shouting too much,” he admitted.
He said he had been reluctant to train women boxers at first but now enjoyed it more than working with men.
He said: “Nicky’s talent wasn’t hard to spot – the determination was always there. Her moves are classic, she flows like she’s dancing. She’s special.”
And as for advice for her now he said: ‘Just relax and enjoy it’.
Also in the crowd at Huggy’s was 15-year-old Holly Anusic, of Eldwick , who has been training at Huggy’s for the past 12 months, and her dad Vinko, 51.
Holly, a pupil at Bingley Grammar School, said: “Watching her just makes me want to carry on with boxing and try even harder. She was amazing.”
Holly, too, has been tipped for the top by Mr Belcher, who says she is another of his prodigies and is Olympic-bound.
And former pro fighter Huggy Osman, who owns the gym in Springmill Street, said he would be throwing a party to celebrate Nicola bringing a gold medal back to Bradford.
Mr Osman said: “She’s one of our own. We had 100 per cent confidence she’d get gold. She made easy work of it. The party’s on me.”
Interviewed after the fight the Olympic champion, who was a one-time extra in soaps such as EastEnders and Coronation Street, said: “It’s a dream come true. I am so happy and overwhelmed with joy. I have wanted this all my life and I have done it.”
Last month Nicola interrupted her Olympic training to unveil a plaque to Mr Belcher at Huggy’s. The coach has an impressive CV at amateur level, having taught the likes of Amir Khan and Naseem Hamed.
The plaque dedication was organised by Join In Local Sport, a campaign to involve local communities in the Games with a big weekend of sports across the country on August 18 and 19.
Paying tribute to him at the unveiling, Nicola said: “Volunteers and coaches like Alwyn do amazing work and it’s right that he is being recognised.”