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Down to The Wire: Newcastle woman is boxing clever with Hollywood star Idris Elba


Newcastle woman Katie Ireland, who is taking part in the BBC Two show Idris Elba's Fight Club

Newcastle woman Katie Ireland, who is taking part in the BBC Two show Idris Elba's Fight Club

The Wire and Luther star Idris Elba

The Wire and Luther star Idris Elba


Newcastle woman Katie Ireland, who is taking part in the BBC Two show Idris Elba's Fight Club

A Co Down woman has told how taking part in new BBC Two show, Idris Elba’s Fight School, has reinforced her ambition to open a gym to help people struggling with mental health issues.

Katie Ireland (23), from Newcastle, is one of eight young people from disadvantaged backgrounds across the UK who will be helped by the Hollywood star to turn their lives around through boxing.

Having witnessed first-hand how a community of young people in South Africa were empowered and transformed by the introduction of a local boxing club, Elba wants to implement his own bespoke Fight School back home in the UK.

In this highly personal project, The Wire and Luther star hopes this intensive course of boxing training will arm his recruits with discipline, ambition and mental resilience, enabling them to acquire new life skills — and ultimately change their lives.

Katie, who grew up with five brothers who all boxed, said she wanted to use the experience to help others as she had struggled with her mental health in the past. Although she never boxed as a child, she became interested in fitness and its benefits on her mental and physical health while growing up in the seaside town.

And she told how Elba had been a huge inspiration to her, describing him as so ‘down-to-earth’, she didn’t view him as a huge star.

“Idris was great, down to earth and easy to talk to. I didn’t see him as a celebrity,” she said.

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“Taking part in the show has made me more determined than ever to open my own gym, one that helps people with their mental health.

“I have so much experience living with people with mental health issues, including my own. I live in an area where it is hard to find a job.

“I want to work towards a boxing qualification and Fight School has given me the motivation to succeed.”

Katie, who studied sport and exercise in Liverpool, will appear in Sunday night’s show, coming in at a later stage than the other young adults taking part.

She said arriving late was ‘tough’ but that she was on ‘a massive buzz to train’ to catch up with the group.

“Everyone else had built up their fitness and I was obviously thrown in (at the deep end),” she said.

“But after a few days you get used to it. It was nerve-wracking doing the first set of punching. You don’t know if you’re going to be able to hit someone.”

Working with some of the country’s leading coaches, the eight can be seen training twice a day, six days a week, while also having access to a life coach and inspirational mentors.

Elba’s end goal is for them to be able to compete in an official amateur fight at one of the world’s most iconic boxing venues, in just five months’ time.

Katie also said the show taught her to be more patient and listen to her body and also strengthened her faith in herself and her ability to adapt.

“I went to university and lived with strangers, but this was a different environment because we were all different ages with different backgrounds,” she said.

“It was interesting getting to know everyone and it reiterated to me that I can adapt.”

Idris Elba’s Fight Club continues on BBC Two on Sunday night at 9pm. All episodes will be available straight away on the BBC iPlayer.

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