Youth Olympic Games silver medallist Adijat Gbadamosi, who was recently signed on by Monarch Boxing Promotions, is the first Nigerian female boxer to claim the African Boxing Union super-bantamweight title. In this interview with PETER AKINBO, she talks about how she started boxing, challenges she faced and more
How old were you when you started boxing?
I started boxing at 11. It was difficult and not difficult, you know, when you have people who support you, even though there are some people who said negative things sometimes and it touched me. It made me feel like giving up. Some people would say ‘you are a girl, why are you boxing?’ You know, people always look down on female boxers. They will say, ‘you can’t make it through this boxing, you can’t even go far, you will still end up in the kitchen.’ Some people told my parents to stop me from going to the gym, but thank God my parents never stopped. They always said, ‘it’s all up to you, it is your future, so, we can’t decide for you, you have to do what you want.’
Why did you choose boxing?
I don’t think there is a reason for that because when I started boxing, I just saw boxers training and I loved it. I went to my parents and told them that I wanted to box. They asked me why and I said I don’t know, I just love the way they are doing it and I want to try.
Did your parents support you initially?
Yes, they did not have a choice. They had to support what I love and they can’t decide what I will do for myself or what career I will choose for myself.
So, how do you feel being the first Nigerian female boxer to win the African Boxing Union title?
I feel good, I am happy to be the first female Nigerian boxer to have this ABU super-bantamweight title. It was not easy, I trained hard and I thank God for helping me to become the champion.
What was going through your mind during the title fight?
I felt very confident, I did not want to go there to lose the opportunity that my manager gave me to fight for the ABU title because we planned for it and there are no words that can express how happy I am to have this title.
From Youth Olympics silver medallist to African champion. What are your plans to maintain your status?
I have to continue training hard and now that I have this title, I have to step up my training. It has to be harder than the past ones because I have to defend this title. It’s going to be a very hard test.
As a female boxer, what’s people’s attitude towards you? Do they avoid you?
Not really, because most people don’t believe I’m a boxer. Even those that know don’t think my stature looks like that of a boxer. Some people think I should have a cut on my eye or something that shows that I have been punched before, but no, I’m not a street fighter. It’s street fighters that go around having cuts.
Of course, guys will definitely go after beautiful ladies but when they get close and find out that you are a boxer, are they scared?
Yes, some are scared but some are not scared at all. They will say ‘you can’t beat me.’
What’s your impression about boxing in Nigeria?
Nigerian boxing has not been going well, but some promoters have been trying to make the boxers get more opportunities.
Do you think sportswomen are properly taken care of like the male athletes in Nigeria?
There are a lot of sh*t that happen to female boxers. People that want to help female boxers will say things like, ‘you have to give me something for me to help you.’ It has happened to me. Sometimes I say, ‘if you are the ones to help me, you won’t ask for such a thing.’
So, how were you able to manage such situations?
Sometimes, when I heard such comments and I got home and cried, my brother Mutiu would always comfort me, telling me not to worry, that I had to keep going. There were times that I wanted to give up but then I get encouraged by my brother and so I kept training hard and now I have gotten signed by Monarch Boxing Promotions. It is a very big privilege for me and I’m very happy.
Are you an advocate of equal pay for men and women athletes?
Yes, of course.
What is your happiest moment in boxing?
When I first represented Nigeria in 2018 during the Youth Olympic qualifiers, the first opponent I faced was from the host country Morocco, so, I had to fight like a mad dog to beat her. My coach was telling me that I should put a lot of pressure on her because if I don’t dominate the fight, it would be difficult to beat her in her country. When they announced that I was the winner, I was so happy. After facing her, I made it to the final and I came first. I was so happy because I did not train enough for the tournament. I was writing my WAEC then, and I only trained for two weeks. I was able to win a silver medal at the 2018 Olympics in Argentina in the flyweight category.
What about your saddest moment?
In the last three years, I faced some challenges that made me almost give up. At the National Sports Festival in 2021 in Edo, I lost to someone I did not even expect to lose to. The thing is my mum was going through some trauma after my dad passed away in 2018, so, we were taking her to hospitals and buying drugs. So, all that was on my head and it affected me at the festival. I did not win any medal, I lost in the quarter-finals.
How far do you hope to further your education?
In 2018, I planned to go further but my dad died and since then I have not been able, but I’ll continue maybe next year. I have plans to continue.
Who has been your toughest opponent?
Martina La Piana of Italy, I fought her at the Youth Olympics in the final. It was the toughest fight I ever had. She did not allow me to get close to her. She was just punching me from afar because she is taller than I am.
How did Monarch Boxing Promotions sign you on?
I met them through one agent that wanted to sign me. But when Monarch said they wanted to sign someone, he introduced me to them, he told them that he has a girl who is a very good boxer, that he wants them to sign me.
What do you hope to become as a boxer in the next few years?
Of course, I want to become a champion. I want to become the first Nigerian female boxer to have a world title belt.
Who are the role models that inspire you?
Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields really motivate me a lot. They fought very hard and they have tough character. They have been doing well. And I think I can look up to them.