Idris Elba works with boxing centre to tackle youth crime

Undated BBC Handout Photo from Idris Elba’s Fight School. Pictured: Coach Rachel Bower and Idris Elb

Coach Rachel Bower and Idris Elba in the upcoming BBC Two series Idris Elba’s Fight School. - Credit: PA Media/BBC/Workerbee

Hackney actor Idris Elba has joined forces with a Camden boxing club to inspire young people in a new BBC Two show.

Idris Elba’s Fight School sees The Wire star explore whether boxing can help a group of young people turn their lives around.

The show, which airs on Sunday, April 17 at 9pm, is inspired by Idris's own experience. He joined a boxing club as a youth, something he describes as a “real turning point” in his life.

In the series, Idris collaborates with former national boxing champion Rachel Bower, 39, and Greg White, 35, who is head coach at Camden Boxing Club in Hawley Wharf, Kentish Town Road, which also has a gym in Rathbone Street.

 The group they take in live together while gaining boxing training, nutrition advice, and access to a life coach and mentors.

Undated BBC Handout Photo from Idris Elba’s Fight School. Pictured: Coaches, Greg White and Rachel B

Coaches Greg White and Rachel Bower. - Credit: PA Media/BBC/Workerbee

The goal is for them to be able to get into the ring to compete in an amateur fight, with just five months of training.

Greg explained how boxing helped him change his life: “I got in trouble with the police when I was younger. I lived on a council estate in south London and I just fed into what was happening in the community, causing problems for everyone. 

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"I needed to sort my life out and boxing did that for me. I walked into my local boxing gym and never looked back."

Meeting the group, Greg and Rachel knew they had a tough job on their hands.

Greg said: “There was only a couple who liked boxing, as in watched the sport and knew what it was about. The rest signed up and had no clue what was going to go on.

"Trying to get them interested in the sport is one of the biggest challenges. But if there was one success, that’s a success for me. Just managing one person to come through.”

On his motivation for doing the show, Idris said: "I was just like, ‘Wow, I would love to experiment [with] that discipline’… I’ve got this real passion to fight knife crime.

“[It’s about] finding ways to shift that energy, that anger, that sense of loss, that sense of bewilderment. You come from a neighbourhood, there’s not much around there for you, so you carry a knife, you feel part of a gang."

Additional reporting by Kerri-Ann Roper, PA.