Nicola Adams paid her own way to her first World Championships and was facing the prospect of giving up her sport and returning to college when women’s boxing was finally voted into the Olympics in 2009.
The Leeds flyweight had been its lone standard-bearer for long before she reached her first world final in China in 2008 and her trailblazing achievements drew barely a flicker of interest within the mainstream media.
All that changed when governing body AIBA voted to include three women’s boxing categories in the programme for the London 2012 Olympics amid a tumult of publicity, meaning that Adams suddenly found herself centre stage.
But having been such an impressive advocate of women’s boxing for so long, Adams, who picked up the sport after watching her father’s videos of Muhammad Ali, almost found herself cast out in the cold.
When GB Boxing held its first trials to select three female boxers to enter on its first full-time programme, she was stricken by a serious back injury which was so bad it left her struggling to even get out of bed for months.
A tortuous session of light shadow-boxing convinced performance director Rob McCracken to give Adams a shot - and she recovered the following year to win her second world silver, once again falling to China’s Cancan Ren.
In Olympic year, Adams once again fell to Ren, but by the time the London Games came around there were high hopes she would rise to the occasion in front of a partisan home crowd.
She did just that, beating India’s multiple world champion Mary Kom en route to the final, where she inevitably set up a rematch against her nemesis Ren.
This time the Chinese star proved no match for Adams, who floored and easily beat her opponent to make history as the first Olympic women’s boxing gold medallist.
That was not enough for Adams, who went on to ease to Commonwealth Games gold in 2014 and two years later finally seized the world title that had eluded her with an emphatic win over Peamwilai Laopeam in Kazakhstan.
Adams’ hunger to make history was apparent in the build-up to Rio and wins over Ukraine’s Tetyana Kob, then Ren again, gave her the chance to become the first British boxer to retain an Olympic crown since Harry Mallin in 1924.
And the 33-year-old duly delivered against France’s Sarah Ourahmoune, with a second Olympic gold confirming her status as one of Team GB’s leading lights.