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Down’s Syndrome doesn’t stop Luke from making his boxing dream come true


An ‘inspirational’ man with Down’s Syndrome has achieved his dream after being crowned winner of a charity boxing bout which he fought in memory of a family friend who died of cancer.

Luke Gibson took on a gruelling eight-week training programme and dieted before winning his contest in front of 25 family members and friends at a showcase event.

The 28-year-old from Mansfield, Notts, wanted to prove that ‘anyone can do it’ and his efforts in the ring raised more than £830 for Cancer Research UK.

Luke is so proud of himself for winning the fight he is getting a tattoo with the word ‘superhero’ on to remember it by.

Luke’s mum Denise, known as De, said her son has liked boxing for eight years and was inspired to step into the ring for a bout after he watched his brother-in-law take part in an Ultra White Collar Boxing (UWCB) event.

Luke, of Park Road, then signed up to UWCB, which gives participants the opportunity to take part in eight weeks of free gym-based training before taking part in a showcase event in front of hundreds of spectators.

Those taking part are asked to sell tickets for the show and raise at least £50 for Cancer Research UK.

So far, Ultra Events, the company which runs UWCB, has raised a staggering £23 million for the charity.

Mother-of-four De, 49, who is Luke and autistic son Jason’s full-time carer, said: “Around eight years ago my brother boxed in an UWCB event and it sparked Luke’s interest.

“Then, when my son-in-law Jamie participated in two events in the past few years his interest grew. Seeing Jamie walk out into the ring and take part really made him want to do the same.

“After the last one in March last year, we had a chat with the relevant people and Luke was good to go.”



Luke had never boxed before
Luke had never boxed before

Luke, who works greeting customers and making cheesecakes at Haywood’s Home of Alrate Cheesecakes in Mansfield Woodhouse, had never boxed before.

He put his all into the preparation – shedding over half a stone over the eight weeks. Luke cut out beer for nearly two months and kept a close watch on what he was eating.

Mum De said: “He trained at the Body & Soul gym in Mansfield town centre. Me and Luke would get a ten-minute bus down in the evenings.

“I watched him through most of his training and, although he was a bit slower than others at the start, I knew his determination would see him through.

“I had to cover my eyes when he started sparring with others in the ring – more for the other boxers’ safety than Luke’s. They said he was a tank and really packed a punch.

“The guys at the gym were just amazing – especially Luke’s trainers Jim and Michelle.

“They understood his pace and were always very hands-on in going over things with him but didn’t treat him too differently to everyone else, which was great.

“Luke even gave up beer for the seven weeks before the fight and was very conscious about what he was eating as well.”



Tattoo design that Luke Gibson is getting to remember the fight night by
Tattoo design that Luke Gibson is getting to remember the fight night by

He made his ring walk at Mansfield’s John Fretwell Complex on Sookholme Road draped in a red cape to the sound of Superhero, by Simon Curtis.

Luke was roared on by around 25 family members and friends including siblings Matt, 30, Sonja, 27 and Jason, 17.

Luke dedicated his fundraising for Cancer Research UK to mother-of-two Toni Bates, a local care operator who died of cancer just before Luke began his training in October, as well as local lad Joel Smedley, who was also taken by cancer earlier in the year.

De said: “Toni was just 45 and she was a really good family friend who had been in our lives for many years. She would have been so proud of him, as we all are.”

Luke won his bout by knockout in the third round, having already knocked down his opponent once in the previous round.



Luke won his bout
Luke won his bout

De said: “Once the ref had counted to ten the place erupted, and there was absolute uproar once Luke was announced as winner.

“Luke was beaming in the ring, looking so proud of himself. It really was a dream come true for him.

“He showed that anyone can achieve anything with the right discipline and determination.

“I was so emotional… he did us all so proud.

“Lots of people told us after the fight that Luke is an inspiration to other young people – both with and without disabilities.

“He really enjoyed that first pint after his victory. For one night, he did feel like a superhero.”

Luke plans to get a tattoo on his right arm, which he himself designed, of a pair of boxing gloves along with the date of the fight and the words ‘Luke’ and ‘Superhero’.

Luke said: “I was so happy and excited to achieve this dream.

“I did it because I wanted to lose weight and help out Cancer Research in memory of Toni and Joel… I did it for them.

“I will be getting a tattoo so I will never forget my big night.”

The next Ultra White Collar Boxing event takes place in Mansfield on March 26 and training starts in the week commencing January 31.

Anyone thinking of signing up can visit: https://ultrawhitecollarboxing.co.uk/locations/mansfield/

For more stories from where you live, visit InYourArea.





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