Idris Elba. Picture: Supplied

As far as living life to the fullest is concerned, Idris Elba is up there with daredevils and stuntmen. When he is not acting, the guy dabbles with music as a DJ – and that’s going well.

In the new Discovery show Idris Elba: Fighter, you get to see just how serious the guy is with his life. At 43, Elba signed up for a year-long training in kickboxing in an effort to challenge himself.

The actor, who has played a tough guy in big blockbuster films like American Gangster and TV shows like The Wire, had to now face real-life tough guys in the gym. After 12 months of excruciating training, the man has to get into the ring with a real kickboxing champ.

The other day I watched a video of a man who stepped into the ring with a 40-year-old Mike Tyson for a charity match. The heavily padded man did quite well, considering Tyson was slower but still had the heavyweight sting.

In Elba’s case, though, we are talking about fighting existing fighters who are more or less two decades younger, faster and ready to go all the way. And, with kickboxing, things get more dangerous as not only fists are used in combat but legs, too.

Just to spook you, the show starts with a thorough breakdown of what it takes to be a fighter. They give case studies of people who have incurred serious injuries in the ring, some of them fatal.

With this in mind, the actor still signed on. After a successful run with another Discovery Channel Series, Idris Elba: No Limits, it makes sense why the man had to shock us with yet another crazy stunt.

As someone who has played a good guy (Daddy’s Little Girls, Sometimes in April) and a bad one, Elba has proved his versatility in Hollywood. The same diversity he has in acting is now being applied in life, making him a true-life action hero.

Now Elba may be built like an athlete and, at first, he assumed he would need to tweak a few things and then he’d be ready to fight. But that was a grave mistake. Kickboxers, in general, are light in weight and yet fit from within. They can lift their own body weight and they have stamina.

When the idea of Elba being trained by some well-known ex-champions first came up, they brushed it off as yet another top celebrity trying to train for the fun of it. Elba convinced them otherwise and, even then, it was no easy task.

He is old, slower and quickly loses his breath when he is training, which makes his trainers doubt that he’ll survive the real fight.

What’s commendable about the show is that Elba is committed. He admits that the odds are against him, but he is not going to quit just yet. He has to stay focused on what he eats, the rest he gets and how hard he trains. There are visits to the doctor, because of some injuries on his ageing body, but the man will not quit.

The Discovery Channel team zooms in on the action, giving you a front-row seat on what looks like the most dangerous thing that Elba has had to do. Will he make it to the fight after 12 months? Only time can tell.

Idris Elba: Fighter airs on Discovery Channel (DStv Channel 121) every Monday at 9pm.

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