Mansfield man with Down's Syndrome triumphed in boxing event for Cancer Research UK

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.

Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 7:00 am

Luke Gibson, 28, from Mansfield, 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.

Luke wanted to prove that 'anyone can do it' and his efforts in the ring raised more than £830 for Cancer Research UK.

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.

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Luke Gibson on the evening of the 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.

Mother-of-four De, 49, who is full-time carer to Luke, said: “About 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, who works greeting customers and making cheesecakes at Haywood's Home of Alrate Cheesecakes in Mansfield Woodhouse, had never boxed before.

Mum De said: "He trained at the Body and Soul gym in Mansfield town centre.

"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.

"The guys at the gym were just amazing - especially Luke's trainers Jim and Michelle.

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.

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

De said: "He showed that anyone can achieve anything with the right discipline and determination.

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

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."

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