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Idris Elba heads to BBC Two

BBC

Idris Elba heads to BBC Two

Can boxing turn around the lives of a group of young adults?

The world-renowned actor, musician and activist Idris Elba aims to help eight young Brits, each with unique challenging, personal stories and one thing in common: they want to better their future.

Idris Elba:

“When I was young I joined a boxing club, and my trainer Joe took me under his wing. It was a real turning point in my life, teaching me discipline and control moving forward. During my own experience of fighting there was a level of peace I was able to achieve. Boxing requires you to switch off all the noise and focus on the moment, a skill that I believe all people need, especially younger people who need direction.

“Looking back at my own experiences, I’m reminded of how powerful boxing can be on disadvantaged young people, giving them a sense of purpose. This was the inspiration behind Fight School.”

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, Idris is determined to implement his own bespoke Fight School back home in the UK.

In this life-changing and highly personal project, Idris wants this intensive course of boxing training to help arm his recruits with discipline, ambition and mental resilience, enabling them to acquire new life skills – and ultimately change their lives.

Working with some of the country’s leading coaches, they’ll train twice a day, six days a week, while also having access to a life coach and inspirational mentors. And they’ll need all the help they can get – Idris’s 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.

Idris scoured all four nations for his recruits, whittling down hundreds of applications before selecting his chosen team. Now it’s time for Idris and the Fight School coaches to meet their first-ever intake: eight young people determined to throw themselves into Idris’s life-changing project for the next five months.

Former National Boxing Champion Rachel Bower and Fitness Coach Greg White support his ambition but have immediate doubts about one of Idris’s selections. At over 100kg, 24-year-old Jess’s weight would make her heavyweight, and there are only a handful of women in the UK competing in this class. Rachel and Greg are concerned that even if they can get Jess’s fitness up to the level needed, it’s going to be almost impossible to find her a fair match. And as the group are put through a rigorous fitness assessment, it’s soon clear that it’s not only Jess who will struggle with the pace.

Eighteen-year-old Naeem has joined Fight School because he struggles with self-discipline but within days he is also struggling with punctuality, much to the training team’s frustration. And latecomer Chanika reveals she’s been delayed in joining the team after being admitted to intensive care with Covid and pneumonia.

But just when it might seem that their mentor might have bitten off more than he can chew, an early morning run transforms one student’s view of what they might be able to achieve.

Idris Elba:

“This was my first time filming something like this, a social experiment of sorts. Taking on the responsibility for these young people’s lives is not something I take lightly, and I wanted to be there for them as much as possible and to make sure that there was an incredible support group of trainers and mentors around them as well.

“As the process went on we dealt with our fair share of injuries, and sadly some of our students were not able to stay throughout the duration of the process. Saying goodbye was the hardest part.

Idris Elba’s Fight School, BBC Two, April 17th, 9 pm

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