Britain’s first boxing couple said mutual support helps them through a gruelling schedule — but they insist on no hugs and kisses when training at the gym.
Nathan McIntosh and Nina Bradley made history earlier this year when they appeared on the same show at Newark Showground.
Together for more than three years, they balance the needs of Nina’s daytime job, boxing training, personal training, their respective children, and the weeks of strict diet and preparation demanded ahead of each fight.
The couple, who live in Newark, said the shared experience of the fight game helped form their strong bond.
“When I am fighting, Nathan supports me,” said Nina, 30, who is originally from Boston.
“When I am running up Beacon Hill at almost midnight, he is following me in the car, supporting me. It just shows the care he has got.
“He is stubborn — we both are — so if he is preparing for a fight and doesn’t want to train I have to shout at him ‘get out of bed, you are training at 9am’.
“You have to counter every negative thought with positive thoughts. We support each other, physically, emotionally and mentally.”
Nathan was on the verge of quitting boxing after he ended his spell at the Peacock Gym, east London, around three years ago.
The travel and financial impact had become too much.
'We both live, eat and sleep it'
“When I met Nina I thought ‘that is what I need’,” said Nathan, 29, who is originally from Nottingham.
“It’s about having a girlfriend who understands what you need to do.
“We are not pretend boxers, we both live, eat and sleep it. Some people just portray living it.
“Some mornings you think ‘it’s freezing out here’ but you still do it.
“We have both made a mark now in boxing. We can say we were the first boxing couple in Britain, maybe the world.”
Despite their affection outside of the ring, Nina insists their relationship inside the gym — they both train at Carl Greaves Boxing Academy, Newark — is purely professional.
“Take us away from the gym and we are loved-up. But we have a rule that in the gym we won’t be a lovey-dovey couple,” said Nina, whose day job is home care.
“There are no hugs and kisses. We do not smile at each other and do not talk.
“We are more like friends when we are at the gym. We are there to train.”
'When we have an issue we spar in the ring'
The couple, of course, have arguments — and they resolve their disputes by climbing into the ring.
“We argue about him not doing the hoovering, or what we are going to eat for dinner,” said Nina.
“Sometimes he will sit there for 90 minutes and he still can’t make up his mind.
“When we have an issue we spar in the ring and, afterwards — always — the issue has gone,” said Nina.
She collected her first belt — the International Female Welterweight Challenge Belt — with a victory over Borislava Goranova last month.
That moved her up to 12th in the world rankings for her weight and put her in line for a shot at an English title next year.
Nathan, whose professional record is 14-2, said titles and victories were always an aspiration, but maintaining their life as a hard-working couple who could combine work and home life was more important.
“Success for us would be, obviously, to do well in boxing,” he said.
“But it’s more about being seen as a positive couple, for people to say ‘that’s a successful boxing couple who live together, train together and have family life together’.”