Boxer Conor Benn



To celebrate the launch of REPRESENT 247 x EVERLAST, the Australian Boxing World Champion sat down with us to talk turning pro, becoming the undisputed champion of the world (one day) and leaving a legacy.


Skye Nicolson isn’t your average boxer. Born into a boxing family, the 28-year-old Australian World Champion grew up hearing stories of her late brother Jamie, who was one of the country’s best amateur boxers, winning bronze at the 1989 World Championships in Moscow and at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland. Sadly, before Jamie’s career could truly take off and one year before Skye was born, he tragically lost his life in a car accident along with his younger brother Gavin. As a result, Skye’s purpose and mission extends far beyond the ring: “Seeing and hearing the stories from my family about him representing Australia, and going to the Commonwealth Games, the Olympic Games, it planted a seed in me to want to be able to do those things as well…”

Skye initially started out in boxing as a way to boost her confidence and make friends. She quickly found that boxing was something she had a future in, sparring with boys her age and more often than not coming out on top. As a young fighter, there weren’t too many female boxers that Skye could look up to for inspiration. But in Katie Taylor [Irish professional boxer] she had a role model that would go on to play a huge role in her life. “I was very lucky to meet Katie Taylor very early on in my boxing journey. I think I was 13 or 14 years old.” 14 years on from that first meeting with Katie, Skye is now blazing her own trail, boasts a record of 10-0 and is showing no sign of stopping. She’s a flagbearer for her nation and a role model to young female boxers across the world - the sort she never really had growing up.

To celebrate the launch of EVERLAST’S one-of-a-kind collaboration with REPRESENT 247, we caught up with her to chat about her journey so far and where she’s headed in the future.

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Boxing is the Nicolson family business. What got you into boxing aged 12? Was it just a case of being around the sport for so long or were there other reasons?

Actually, I don’t know why it took so long. I think, probably, the lack of female boxers to aspire to be like - I didn’t even really ever think about being a boxer as a young girl. I wasn’t really fit, wasn’t overly confident, and my mum half-encouraged me to get in the gym for that. But at that point, she definitely never in a million years thought I would actually box, or even spar. When I started, there were a few boys around the same age and weight as me starting out as well. I was picking it up and learning just as quick as they were, and when they wanted to start sparring, so did I – naturally – that competitive instinct kicked in as well, and I was mixing it with the boys…

I gave away weight, I gave away age, I gave away experience...

What did you gain from boxing as a young girl?

My mum encouraged me to go in the gym just to get physically fit, to boost my confidence. But boxing gyms teach kids so much more than just that. Respect, sportsmanship, discipline, resilience: it’s hard, but it’s so rewarding as well… I’ve read so many times – how many times, I don’t know – of people saying that boxing, and being in a boxing gym, saved their life, and I truly believe that.

Before we dive into your successes as an amateur, for those that don’t understand the world of boxing too well, can you explain what amateur boxing means and its importance to the sport?

Amateur boxing is the grassroots. It’s the development period before anyone even considers turning professional. People kind of refer to the amateurs as the apprenticeship, and it's important you get it right. For me, I had 150 amateur fights. I boxed around the world. I boxed anyone. I gave away weight, I gave away age, I gave away experience, especially in those early years when the pool and the availability of opponents was small. But I just fought and fought and fought. Your records don’t matter, it doesn’t matter how many times you lose as an amateur: you wanna get in there. You’re gonna learn so much every single time you step through those ropes. And I think everything I did in those 15 years as an amateur, all of those fights I had, everything prepared me for what could potentially happen in the professional ranks.

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In 2018, you won gold at the Commonwealth Games, in front of a home crowd. What impact did becoming a hometown hero have on your career so early on?

2018 was special. I think winning gold on the Gold Coast, in front of my hometown, will always be a highlight for me – no matter what I go on and achieve as a professional… It just felt like destiny for me. I think after everything that happened with not going to the Rio Olympics, everything just paid off. I saw the greater good in the tests that I’d gone through. Looking back now, it was the start really of so, so much more. And, after 2018, my full focus was on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and I knew there was nothing that was going to stop me from becoming an Olympian and representing my country at those Games.

Was there a sense of “Ha! F**k you, this is what I’m capable of?”

You know what? I feel like I’ve spent my whole life proving people wrong. And in 2018, that was one of those moments where it was like, ‘Yeah, you wish you sent me to Rio 2016 now, don’t you?’ [Laughs] But look, everything happens for a reason; you can’t hold grudges, you can’t live thinking, ‘Ah, what if I went?’ But…What if I went? [Laughs]

I feel like I’ve spent my whole life proving people wrong.

Some things are meant to be... in late 2021, you came over to the UK to prepare for the world championships; competition gets cancelled, suddenly you find yourself pivoting because you went from preparing for world champs to having to prepare for your pro debut. How easy was it to adjust those training goals?

You know what? I didn’t find it overly challenging. I think, for someone who literally went from boxing as an amateur in a very amateur boxing style, for 16 years, to spending six weeks in a pro gym and having a pro debut… My team saw my strengths, saw what I was good at, saw room for improvement, but knew that I could win fights as a professional – especially early in my career – doing what I was doing anyway…

Since your first pro fight you’ve gone on to win all your bouts and currently hold a record of 10-0. How have you changed as a fighter since your first fight?

I came into the professional ranks quite naïve. I didn’t know a lot about professional boxing – I barely watched professional boxing. I think these last two years have definitely– I don’t want to say shaped who I am as a fighter, because it hasn’t - but I think it’s just opened my eyes to a whole new world which has been so exciting for me. Obviously, I was so ingrained in the amateur system for so long and it’s been a breath of fresh air for me. I’m a knowledge sponge – I just want to learn, and learn, and learn. I want to be the best.

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Skye Nicolson at FLANNELS X Presents REPRESENT 247 x EVERLAST event in May 2024.

With your record has come the acclaim and the attention. Having signed with EVERLAST you’re now part of a long lineage of big names to have worked with the brand. How did the collaboration come about and what excites you most about working with them?

It’s so special! For me to be a face of EVERLAST is the pinnacle; for the commercial side of boxing, you being the face of a brand that everybody knows in boxing. You see EVERLAST, it’s boxing. You see boxing, it’s EVERLAST. So, I know that I have an important role being an ambassador, being a face of such a longstanding brand for boxing and I feel privileged, I feel honoured to be in the position that I’m in. I wear EVERLAST proudly – it’s like I said about how I feel representing my country, that pride that you feel in being a torchbearer for your country, it’s like that for EVERLAST now as well.

Boxing is as much about style out of the ring as it is within it and if you look good, you’ll most often feel good too. What do you look for most in your training wear- aesthetics, comfort, breathability, a mix of all?

For me, when I’m looking for staple training pieces, comfort is 100% number one for me. I don’t want to be in a boxing gym, training, and not feeling comfortable – having to adjust my shorts, or my top all the time… Look? Of course. Look good, feel good. You’re constantly being photographed in training, filmed in training as well – you want to look good. You want the pieces to be flattering, you want the pieces to be bright, you want to stand out. Comfort, then look.

I take my boxing very, very seriously and when pressure’s high, I have a lot of expectations on myself. I want to perform well, I’m in the zone, I’m not really down for a joke.

You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that you don’t think you’ve spent more than a week, maybe two or three max, away from the gym. With boxing playing such a big role in your life, especially in terms of what you wear day to day, how would you describe your personal style?

Definitely sporty and comfy. My style is like, sweatpants, hair tied, chilling with no makeup on. [Laughs] If I had to describe my style that’s it. But obviously, every once in a while, there’s a red-carpet event – I work as a commentator on DAZN so there’s exceptions to the rule. I don’t go and commentate, or to red-carpet events in my tracksuits. But my number one look and probably what you would see me in the most would be lounge. Especially in England!

Boxers can often feel like they have two identities - one outside of camp, during the day-to-day away from the ring, and another when in “fight mode” - in camp, during your ring walk, in the ring. Is that true for you?

Yes. I think I can be a very likeable, friendly person, but when it's fight week, my team would probably say otherwise. [Laughs] No look, I take my boxing very, very seriously and when pressure’s high, I have a lot of expectations on myself. I want to perform well, I’m in the zone, I’m not really down for a joke.

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Skye Nicolson and Conor Benn at FLANNELS X Presents REPRESENT 247 x EVERLAST event in May 2024.

Let’s look ahead slightly. What does the future hold for Skye Nicolson? You recently called out former-World Champ, Amanda Serrano. Is that on the cards for you?

I have wanted to fight Amanda Serrano since I was… 4-0? So, I would love that fight. Whether that fight ever happens or not, the ball’s in her court. I’m not gonna keep chasing it. She knows I want to fight her. I have other goals as well. Unfortunately, she’s got all the belts I want apart from the one I now have. So, there is a shift now from contender versus champion to champion versus champion, which should be more enticing for her. She came out and said she’s only gonna fight three-minute rounds, and now she’s fighting two-minute rounds again so, you never know! Never say never! But the future, for me? I want to win world titles in multiple weight divisions, I want to be undisputed – whether it’s at featherweight or another weight division, I will be an undisputed world champion.

Now, I know there’s been some rule changes, there’s been some tweaks to allow people who fight pro to potentially fight in the Olympics. You mentioned that it was a goal to fight for this year’s Olympics. Because you bowed out in the quarterfinals in Tokyo 2020, is there a sense of unfinished business for you?

There was definitely a sense of unfinished business for me with the Olympics. I only turned professional because of the rule change, and that I knew that I would be able to go back for the 2024 Olympics. It got to a point last year that I had to make a choice. For me to represent Australia at the 2024 Olympics; that qualifying process started in July of 2023, and I would have had to commit to not boxing professionally until after the Olympics. So, it meant 12+ months out of the ring as a professional – I was one or two fights away from becoming mandatory with the WBC for Amanda Serrano. So, on the verge of world title fights, I had to make a choice: I had to go all in with the amateurs, go back to what I was doing before, or go all in on my pro career – for the first time because I was still half-dabbling up until that point. It ended up becoming a really easy decision for me. My goals had changed, my eyes had been opened to this new world, and I have absolutely no regrets. I think everything that has happened since making that decision has happened exactly as it was supposed to happen, exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’m living my new dream and I’m loving it.

The future, for me? I want to win world titles in multiple weight divisions, I want to be undisputed – whether it’s at featherweight or another weight division, I will be an undisputed world champion.

Leaving a legacy is something most boxers think about. A couple of weeks ago after becoming World Champion by beating Sarah Mahfoud you said it’s all about the legacy for you. When you look back on your career do you want your legacy to look like?

My legacy will look like: ‘She would fight anyone. She beat champions. She dethroned champions.’ I don’t want to fight for vacant belts. I, annoyingly, had to for my first world title. But that wasn’t what I wanted, I wanted to fight the champion, I wanted to fight for undisputed in my 10th fight. But I can only control what I control, and I can only beat who they put in front of me. But I am willing to fight anyone, and I want that to be in my legacy – that I was willing to fight anyone, and when I did, I beat them.

When you first started boxing you felt like there weren’t many boxers that looked like you. Do you feel a sense of responsibility to young girls out there since you’re now the role model that you never really had growing up?

Absolutely. If I can be who Katie Taylor has been to me in my journey, to just one girl, then I’ll be happy. But I already believe I’m doing that – for lots of girls, around the world, and not just in Australia. I meet young girls on my journey all the time. In the United Kingdom, the United States, in Australia, and to know that I’m inspiring them; to know that I’m a role model for them is a better feeling than any world title I’ll ever win.




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