Boxing coaches Rachel Bower and Greg White had nothing but kind words for Idris Elba, as he helps nine students learn ‘discipline, endurance and intelligence’ in his latest BBC series.
In his latest project, the Luther megastar, 49, carefully selected candidates across the country, who immersed themselves in the high intensity sport for five months.
The five-parter, appropriately titled Idris Elba’s Fight School, follows a group of youngsters undergoing strict training – under Idris’ instruction – in a bid to compete in an official amateur fight in the final episode.
Ahead of the series debut, The Wire actor explained that he turned to boxing during his younger years and defined the phase as a ‘real turning point in his life,’ and he hopes his recruits will understand the importance of ‘ambition and mental resilience.’
And that passion and determination didn’t go unnoticed by his co-stars.
Speaking exclusively to Metro.co.uk, boxing champions Rachel and Greg detailed the impact Idris had over the eager students.
‘He wanted to get to know their stories,’ said Greg.
‘He identified with the problems they had, and really moulded and helped shape them, and be that mentor that needed.’
‘I wasn’t surprised by it,’ Rachel added.
‘I know that he did something similar with kickboxing, and he realises how much it can help people.
‘He’s also quite an inspirational figure, and the young people that we dealt with realised how much of a big deal it was.’
Reflecting on how captivated the recruits were by Idris’ presence, she added: ‘You could tell the difference in them when he was around, when he would watch them train, they really light up.’
Chanika, Finlay, Jess, Kerryn, Sophie, Ash, Naeem, Zeb, and Katie are the young boxers under Idris’ wing, and each one has experienced extreme hardship at some point during their lives.
When asked about the special bond shared with the students, Rachel revealed there were emotional moments shared behind the scenes that didn’t make the final cut.
‘There’s a lot of stuff they might not have felt comfortable sharing on camera, but they shared with us.
‘It is really upsetting hearing about the things people have gone through, and also trying to help and give them advice, knowing that they’re the only people in charge of their destiny.’
‘For us it was clear to see that boxing was open for everyone,’ Greg explained.
‘I really hope that this show showcases that boxing is for everyone from all walks of life.’
Idris Elba’s Fight School starts Sunday April 17 at 9pm on BBC2 with all episodes available on BBC iPlayer.