The FightPost Interviews: Nicola Hopewell
The coal mines which once surrounded Worksop are a thing of the past. The local town centre now has a large percentage of charity shops and pound shops, not a sight solely reserved for Worksop sadly.
After the recent floods, when heavy rain returns, the residents hold their breath. The recent seismic political shift in the area won’t see the change promised happen anytime soon, if ever. A decade or more of decay will be hard to reverse.
The Bassetlaw town is home to the world’s 4th oldest football club, and in a further sign of the times is currently involved in its latest battle to avoid extinction.
Sporting heroes are a rarity in Worksop, Lee Westwood is probably the name that first comes to mind. But a new hope has just started her journey into the world of professional boxing.
Nicola Hopewell is Worksop’s first-ever female professional boxer, and she made her professional debut on Saturday night in Barrow-in-Furness.
The early signs are promising, the debut didn’t last long. The Ghanaian Anita Addy was dispatched in just two rounds and the victory earned the Nottinghamshire fighter the Professional Boxing Council (PBC) super flyweight International Silver Championship.
“It was just an amazing experience. To be honest, I was so nervous beforehand, but it was just a fantastic atmosphere, I was just buzzing.”
Hopewell like many fell into boxing by accident:
“I just started going to the gym to get fit. I started to do a boxercise class one day a week. Then I started doing the proper boxing class and I just loved it. A few months after I got my medical I got matched up and I stopped my opponent in the 3rd round in my first amateur fight.”
The boxing journey began six years ago when Hopewell was 22, without any sort of interest prior to taking up the sport:
“Before I started I was never into boxing and neither were my parents. My dad’s into it now though. Both my mum and dad have been really supportive.”
Hopewell had an amateur record of 23-9 and secured a place on the England talent pathway for 12 months and won numerous titles in the unpaid ranks including the Central England Elite flyweight belt, the Midlands Elite flyweight belt and was the 2018 Esker Best Overseas Boxer. Despite the success a career as a professional wasn’t always on the agenda:
“Turning pro just evolved over time. I didn’t know how many fights I was going to have. About two years ago my coach Cris Boyle said how do you feel about turning pro, but the time wasn’t right and I said no. I just wanted to get more experience. But at the end of last year we had the conversation again, and this time I was up for it.”
Like many in the sport, Hopewell has to combine her boxing career around a full-time job. A Monday to Friday job at Wilkinson’s head office sits in the middle of the arduous training boxing needs, Sunday her only day of rest.
But sensibly Harper isn’t getting ahead of herself about leaving a secure job to become a full-time pro:
“I’ve not really thought about it to be honest. I’m just taking one fight at a time and see where it takes me.”
A nickname is almost obligatory in boxing, and Hopewell’s search for one was ended by some of her workmates:
“I was looking for one and someone at work, came up with and said ‘The Hurricane’ and I liked it straight away and it sort of stuck. Everyone always says I am quick, like a whirlwind and it sort of fitted.”
Spare time is limited, but 16 miles away from Worksop, Hopewell leaves one passion for another. Sheffield United are currently proving a lot of people wrong in the Premier League and Hopewell had an early introduction to life at Bramall Lane and one day hopes she can step through the ropes there:
“I’ve been watching them since I was really young. My Uncle and older cousin got me into it at an early age. It would be amazing to fight there.”
From one relatively quick phone call, it is often quite hard to judge a person, but you can’t fail to be impressed by the level-headedness of Hopewell. There is no rush to a world that might be beyond her at this moment, an acceptance that she has time:
“I will just take one fight at a time and try to win as many belts and titles as I can, listen to what Cris says to me and take the opportunities when they come.”
Hopewell will have fight number two in Derby on April 11th.