Australian boxer Skye Nicolson is gunning for Commonwealth Games glory in memory of her late brother, a professional fighter who died before she was born – and says his spirit will be cheering her on.
Jamie Nicolson was a highly rated Olympic and then professional boxer who was killed in a car crash in 1994 along with another brother, the younger Gavin, as they headed to boxing training.
Skye was born a year after the tragedy, and has inherited the fighting genes which run through the family.
Ahead of Wednesday’s opening of the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast – close to where the Nicolsons hail from – she described Jamie as her inspiration.
“I have a pretty tight relationship with him, even though we’ve never met,” she said.
“I definitely think he is in my corner with me when I fight.”
She is now 22, the same age as her brother when he died, and the parallels between Skye and Jamie are almost eerie.
She will be competing in the 57kg division at the Commonwealth Games, the same weight class as her brother at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
And like Jamie, Skye is an awkward southpaw who likes to counter-attack. Many also say that the siblings who never met look uncannily alike.
Skye, who has sparred with men to help her preparations for the Commonwealths, described herself as “gobsmacked” and “blown away” when at age 18 she watched footage of her brother boxing for the first time.
“It was like, ‘Wow, this is what everyone was talking (about)‘ when saying how similar in style to him,” she said.
‘Shiver down my spine’
Skye, a bronze medallist at the 2016 amateur world championships, will be hoping that the similarities with her late brother persist at the Commonwealths.
Jamie won bronze in 1990 and was described as an “icon” by Brisbane newspaper The Courier-Mail on the 20th anniversary of his death in 2014.
Skye took up boxing initially just to help her keep fit, but it quickly became apparent that she too had the family’s talent for the sport.
Her father Allan agrees that the resemblance to Jamie is striking, both in terms of how they box and how similar they look with boxing headgear on.
“It sent a shiver down my spine, I tell you,” Allan once told The Courier-Mail of the siblings’ likeness.
And even though Jamie’s life and that of Gavin’s – just 10 when he died – were cut tragically short, Skye has plenty of other family members to advise her as she targets success on the Gold Coast and at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
A third brother, Tony, is a schoolboy national champion, and an uncle is a highly respected boxing coach.
“I think bringing home a medal will be just the cherry on top of an amazing experience all-round, so hopefully I get that gold and add it to the collection at home,” said Skye.