Alex Grant, 20, has never set foot in a ring - but when her dad Mark was diagnosed with cancer for a third time, she decided to sign up for her university’s ‘Fight Night’ to raise money for Weston Park Cancer Charity.
The Sheffield hospital - now connected to Barnsley with a new shuttle service - has cared for Mark and his family for the past eight years since he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
He’s on his third course of chemotherapy having been in remission twice, because the cancer has spread.
Alex, wanting to give something back to the charity, signed up for the boxing event at Newcastle University where she’s a third-year English Literature student - and has been blown away by the response.
“I thought I might get £500, but we’ve hit £2,000 now,” said Alex, of Mount Pleasant Court, Crane Moor.
“It’s a lot more than what I expected.
“The amount of messages I’ve had from people saying they’ve looked after their mums and uncles shows it’s clearly touched so many people.”
Alex is undergoing eight weeks of training, currently at Barnsley Star boxing gym with friend and amateur boxer Elliot Bridges.
“I used to do karate when I was younger but not for about five years,” she added.
“As well as going to the gym we’ve been doing a bit of training in my garden.
“I don’t feel very nervous - win or lose, to raise that much money I’ll be happy with myself as it is.
“It’s always looked like a good experience but I never had the oomph to go and do it.
“I wouldn’t do it just for the craic.
“But when my dad got ill again, I put myself forward.
“The Fight Night is not something anyone really does for charity, they just do it for the experience.
“It’s the hardest I’ve ever trained.
“Eight weeks isn’t that much time to learn a completely new sport.
“The amount of attention I’ve got, I’m thinking I need to knock them out.”
As an unexpected effect of the fundraiser’s success, former Coldstream Guard Mark said he’d received ‘heartfelt’ messages of support from ex-colleagues who had seen it online.
“Some of them I haven’t spoke to in 30 years,” said the 56-year-old.
“I’ve been humbled by what Alex is doing.
“It’s been quite an upsetting time for me, it’s challenged me as a person - as a dad, the most important thing to me is my kids.
“She’s stepped up and as a young lady to get into the ring for the first time, for a great cause, she’s done an incredible job already - as have her friends down at the gym.
“I’m immensely proud.
“The team at Weston Park are incredible - you don’t realise until you go through it.”
Alex added: “It’s been rough for us all.
“He’s rang the bell twice already.
“It’s a big thing to get through, but the nurses are amazing.
“It’s not just for the patients, it’s us as well.
“He’s shared it around and all his old squaddy mates have recognised him and been messaging wishing him well.”
Weston Park fundraising officer Georgia Bransby said: “We’re so proud to be supported by Alex and cannot believe the challenge that she’s taking on to raise much-needed funds for the charity.
“We’re currently 50 per cent down on income and so people like Alex are absolute lifelines to our work.
“She will not only be making her family proud, especially her dad, on March 1, but Weston Park Cancer Charity too.”