Skye Nicolson: “I didn’t come so far just to go so far”
Australian star Skye Nicolson will balance Olympic-style boxing with a professional career. She talks to John Dennen
THE anger to postpone the women’s world championships for months to 2022, in the short term, is understandable. The announcement was only made four weeks in advance, shortly after flights were booked, plans made, training camps held and more for international teams around the world.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Australia’s Skye Nicolson Boxing News. “I qualified for the Olympics in March 2020, I only boxed once at the Tokyo Olympics 18 months later when the rest of the world was still boxing.
“So when the Worlds were confirmed I was so excited because I have to get back to normal, I have to box regularly. I just want to be active. I haven’t even really had a break after the Olympics.
“For them being canceled four weeks later is very frustrating. We had just flown halfway around the world to complete our preparations and literally within two days of arriving. [in Sheffield], we read that they were canceled or postponed.
“It was very frustrating that the Men’s Worlds went, they were going well, the Women’s Worlds were postponed because of Covid,” she noted. “If you are a boxer apparently Covid is not a problem, but it is if you are female. It’s frustrating, but I just want to make the most of being here. Work as much as possible, take part in international fights. I won’t dwell on it.
Nicolson was originally going to focus solely on amateur sport. But now she’s looking to balance the pursuit of Olympic sport with the early stages of a professional career. “The Olympic gold medal has always been my dream,” said Nicolson, who lost to Kariss Artingstall in the Games quarter-finals in Japan. “I felt like after Tokyo, I know it looks cheesy, but I haven’t come this far to get this far. I feel like I would regret it forever if I went straight to the pro scene leaving the amateurs without ever really knowing if I could have won that Olympic gold medal. Especially since it is a shorter cycle, from 2021 to 2024.
“I had a conversation with our national coach and they were very supportive of the idea of boxing only in benchmark events. So the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games and the world championships, making money and build my professional career rather than postpone it for another three years.
“I don’t see myself not wanting to go to the Paris Olympics. I think it’s obvious.
She signed with STN Sports, the management agency, and as for a promoter, she is evaluating her options. “There has been some interest here in the UK, but there are also some very good offers from Australia,” she said. “Being able to do both is pretty exciting. “
For the Australian Olympic team, the rule change is helping them retain some of their best athletes. “Professional tennis players, professional basketball players, professional golfers, they all participate in the Olympic Games. They are all on the professional scene away from the Olympics, why is it any different? Nicolson asks. “[Boxing Australia] are always going to support me because they know I’m their best medal chance, but they know they can’t keep me and not let me go pro because they don’t give me money.
“Australian amateur boxers get high,” she adds. “Our best hopes go to the pros because there is just no support in the amateur system and then we don’t get the medals so we don’t get the funding and the cycle just goes on and on.”
Skye has a unique motivation for his boxing career. She follows in the footsteps of a brother, Jamie, who died the year before he was born. “It has always been an inspiration and a motivation for me, especially when I started boxing. I am told that I box like him, ”she explains.
“It’s crazy to think about what he did when he was 22. Because I’m 26 now,” she continued. “He went to the men’s world championships at 17, winning Australia’s first medal, Commonwealth Games bronze… To go to the Olympics too, all before 22, both a graduate of the university and was working as a school teacher, it’s like how you did that?
“Boxing kind of gave us that brother-sister relationship even though we’ve never met. I really feel reassured knowing that I have come the same way that he has already come. I really feel like he’s with me on this journey and he left that legacy and I am and I do mine too. It’s really cool.”