Mural of Leeds boxing hero Nicola Adams defaced with vile racist graffiti

Sickening racist graffiti was scrawled over street art featuring Leeds boxing hero Nicola Adams.

Tuesday, 21st April 2020, 2:17 pm

Vile language was written next to the image of the boxing champion, who won gold at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

The 37-year-old retired from sport in December 2019.

The words 'nonce' and 'traitor' were also written elsewhere on the mural which features famous Leeds faces, including playwright Alan Bennett and television presenter John Craven.

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Emma Ross first took a picture of the mural in January (photo: Emma Ross).

The word 'millionaire' was also written next to the image of humanitarian Sue Ryder.

The racist language has been covered over by Emma Ross, who decided to take action after noticing it while out on a run.

The original artist has been contacted so the mural, which is only a few months old, can be fully restored, but Leeds City Council officers will remove what they can in the meantime.

Emma, 40, said: "I run down there pretty much every day and thought the artwork was great.

Emma covered over the racist language next to the image of Nicola Adams (photo: Emma Ross).

"On Saturday I noticed straight away that someone had defaced it and not only that, but defaced it with really vulgar language.

"Nicola Adams stood out the most. I was absolutely disgusted. I could not get it out of my head and I did not want other people to see it. "

Emma said she was told by police that it was a council issue.

She also tried to track down the artist, but couldn't immediately find an answer.

"I wanted to see if he wouldn't mind if I covered it up as much as I could without it damaging his work, because I just wasn't willing to let other people feel the way I felt when I saw it," Emma added.

"There's a lot of people down there, it's just such a beautiful place, and a lovely part of the city that a lot of people get pleasure from.

"There are so many people, including of ethnic backgrounds, that use that space and I just wasn't willing to let them have to see that."

Emma, who works for Leeds City Council, covered over the words next to Nicola Adams herself.

She added: "There's no room in our city for racism like that.

"I absolutely despise it and I have just come to the conclusion that if it keeps happening I will just keep covering it up and reporting it.

"There's no space in our city for that."

The building itself is owned by the Canal & River Trust and the mural was commissioned as part of the council's Waterfront Enhancement Fund.

Hunslet and Riverside councillor Paul Wray said he was disgusted that the "amazing" art had been defaced.

"Officers will now try their best to remove it without damaging the underlying art," he said.

"I'm proud of our decision to allow this area to develop into a place for the street arts scene to work without fear of their work being removed.

"Over the last two years there has been a move from the majority being simple tagging, to more complex and thoughtful pieces.

"Wall owners have been great at allowing their property to be used as the canvas for these, with some even paying for work to be added to their wall.

"To the people defacing this public art - you won't win."

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