Lilywhites a knockout for Motor Neurone Disease

An Athy woman is preparing to put on her boxing gloves and step into the ring for the first time next Saturday night.

An Athy woman is preparing to put on her boxing gloves and step into the ring for the first time next Saturday night.

But Terri Reddy hasn’t just been struck by the Katie Taylor fever sweeping the nation. The 44-year-old will trade punches with another girl as part of the ‘Pavilion Punch Up’ White Collar Boxing night in Leopardstown in order to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA).

Terri’s husband Tom Byrne, 58, was diagnosed with the degenerative disease last November. In just one year, the 6ft 21/2 in rugby player, who worked as a carpenter by trade, has lost much of his mobility and struggles to walk.

For the last eight weeks, window cleaner Terri has been put through her paces at the National Stadium gym, training ground of our Olympic boxing heroes, by top coach Eddie Bolger, who trains Irish light-heavyweight champ Joe Ward.

And this weekend she will stride into the ring to the theme tune of boxing movie ‘Rocky 6’ to try and outpunch her opponent for the charity.

But it’s just by chance that Terri got involved in the fundraising event. “It was 3am and I couldn’t sleep, so I was Googling Motor Neurone. I came across the IMNDA site, and they were looking for boxers... and the rest is history. That’s me all over, I’m quite impulsive,” she told the Leinster Leader as she gears up for her last sparring sessions.

Her husband, originally from Grangemellon, is right behind her new hobby. And Terri says the tough training sessions, which combine sparring skills with bagwork and core strengthening exercises, help her cope with the tough work of being a carer. The quick progression of Motor Neurone Disease can quickly rob a sufferer of the ability to walk, talk and do simple daily tasks. Just a year after Tom’s diagnosis, Terri must help her husband dress and even butter his bread at mealtimes.

“It has taken the focus off the intensity of the illness, even just for an hour of the day,” she says.

The plucky Athy woman, who will fight under the moniker “Lights Out”, says she’s looking forward to the fight night, even though she doesn’t know yet who her opponent will be. “I’ll fight anyone, I don’t care at this stage!” she said. Some 30 supporters will be yelling her on on the night - a few, she suspects, who want to see the feisty fighter ship a few punches. “A few people will think it’s been a long time coming,” she joked. “People are very good, and are getting behind both me and the cause. Because we’re from a small town, everyone knows both of us.”

Also fighting on the night is Clane man Will “Boom Boom” Ganly. The 26-year-old, who is the managing director of an engineering company, started Naas-based White Collar Boxing’s regular classes because he was interested in the sport.

He rapidly became a fundraiser for several good causes, putting his jaw on the line for charity fight nights including some of the Make A Wish Foundation.

“It’s a good way to raise money,” he said. “When else will you get a chance to do a proper fight night?”

Will says he can’t wait for Saturday’s showdown. “I thought I would be more nervous - the first time I did a fight I couldn’t sleep and had butterflies.”

There will be further Lilywhite interest on the night as Ardclough woman Orla King and Naas man Conor Leahy will also lace up their gloves for the cause.

Tickets for the night, which will be held in the Pavilion at Leopardstown Racecourse next Saturday, December 1, are still available and can be purchased from IMNDA at or by phoning 01 8730422. Tickets, at E20, will also be available on the door from 7.30pm and all support is welcome.

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