It’s finally arrived - the white collar boxing event for the Katie D Foundation is this Saturday night at Ballybrakes.
The whole town has been talking about it for weeks - and this Saturday, boxers will step into the ring, after 13 weeks of gruelling training.
The event will aid charities that have helped Ballymoney teenager Katie Donnell.
Katie is a pupil of Sandelford School in Coleraine and has put up a brave battle for life since the day she was born.
Katie was born three weeks early with spinia bifida and hydrocephalus which was unknown until birth.
At just one day old little Katie had her first brain surgery. Unfortunately, the surgery could not be completed as Katie was getting too weak. Later that week Katie had more surgery.
Katie also has cerebral palsy ataxia, and at five, she was diagnosed with epilepsy. It’s been a tough time for Katie and her parents Lynda Wright and Adrian Donnell. Just two years ago, Katie was also diagnosed with Lupus.
Organiser Rosie McIntyre of Iron Fist Gym in Ballymoney told The Times this week that it’s been a steep learning curve for some of those involved. She explained that the event came about through Chrissy McCook, a relation of Katie’s mum, Lynda.
Over 600 tickets have now been sold and there are still a handful left, so if you want to see this spectacle contact Rosie on 07885204361, or call at Iron Fist.
Kicking off the contests on the night will be Cathy Morrow from Coleraine, who will fight Kim Middleton.
Kim was a last minute entrant, but she is raring to go.
Cathy, nicknamed the ‘Ginger Ninja’ has ‘worked really hard’ according to Rosie: “She’s cried and found it very tough going, but fair play to her she’s stuck in there and I have no doubt this will be a good fight,” said Rosie.
Kenny Anderson (Coleraine) will meet Reece Black (Ballymoney) in the second bout.
Kenny is all set for the battle, while Reece has shed a whopping stone-and-a-half as part of his training. Rosie reckons that for Reece, the event ‘will be the making of him’.
Bout three sees Coleraine woman Louise Kelly, better known for her musical skills, taking on Bernie McKeefry, who is best known for owning a chippy.
These are two fit ladies who are sure to put on a good show.
“I think all the women have had their own personal battles,” said Rosie.
“Win or loose, it takes guts just to step inside that ring,” she said.
Sean Kelly and Alistair McCook will face off in bout four.
At just 17, Sean is the youngest boxer taking part. He has some experience from his younger days, so it’s set to be a good bout. Alistair has been described as the ‘comedian’ of the bunch, and according to Rosie has ‘never committed’ to anything before his life. She reckons this will be a tight bout as both men are the same weight and build.
Lesley Davis and postie Jennifer Parkhill are the fifth fight, and both have taken part in white collar events before, but have never met in the ring.
Co-organiser, Chrissy McCook will be boxing Gareth McConaghie. Gareth is no stranger to the football pitch, but let’s see how he shapes up in the ring!
Before the interval boxers from Ballymoney’s Scorpion Club will be taking part in two exhibitions fights.
After the interval it’s the turn of hockey stalwart Liz Lamont, who will meet Jamie Jill, another cousin of little Katie’s.
Mark Donnell, Katie’s uncle will meet Richard Blair better known as ‘Chin’ in bout number ten.
Rosie herself will step onto the canvas at bout number 11, she will take on Balnamore’s strong woman Anne Henry.
The final bout of the night is much anticipated.
Katie’s father Adrian will meet his twin brother Allan, in what will be a return to childhood for the pair.
“These two were very well known for going head to head in their younger days,” joked Rosie. “This is the fight that everyone is talking about, and fair play to the brothers for doing it,” she said.
It’s been a hectic few months for Rosie, Katie’s family and the organisers: “We unfortunately had a few last minute changes to the programme as a number of people were forced to pull out through medicals, but we are nearly there,” said the relieved extended schools co-ordinator.
“The final training sessions will take place on Wednesday night - then that’s it until Saturday night.
“I just want to say a special thank you to Chris Napier and Iron Fist Gym for all their support and a very special mention must go to Spike of Scorpion for allowing us the use of the ring to spar. So many people have been involved and they all know who they are - I just hope that everyone has a great night on Saturday and we raise plenty for the charities.”