Idris Elba enters the ring with Discovery Networks Int’l

Shot on location in Britain, Cuba, Japan, South Africa and Thailand, the three-parter Idris Elba: Fighter will see the actor and producer train for and square off in a real kickboxing match.
August 23, 2016

Heavyweight actor and producer Idris Elba will flex his muscles in a new limited series from Discovery Networks International.

Idris Elba: Fighter will follow the Emmy-nominated Brit as he trains to become a professional kickboxer and, ultimately, compete against a seasoned brawler in a real, unscripted bout.

Shot over the course of a year on location in Britain, Cuba, Japan, South Africa and Thailand, the 3 x 60-minute series is produced by Shine North and Elba’s own prodco, Green Door Pictures. It’s set to broadcast on Discovery’s factual channels in more than 220 countries and territories beginning in 2017, including the UK and US.

Elba, 43, previously worked with Discovery on a high-adrenaline racing series, No Limits.

With mentoring from former world champions, trainers, and coaches, Elba will learn training methods and fitness regimens from across the globe to increase his chances at winning in the main event.

“This raw yet intimate series will show a side of Idris that viewers and fans won’t get from his spectacular film work,” said DNI president of content Marjorie Kaplan in a statement. “From East London to the Far East and the Caribbean, he’ll explore strength, stamina and spirituality through a range of martial arts and their fascinating histories.”

“He’s changed his entire lifestyle to prepare for the fight, and has suffered some huge setbacks along the way,” added Rick Murray, executive producer for Shine North. “But it’s watching how [Elba] tackles these obstacles, that makes this such a revealing and compelling series.”

Elba called the project the fulfillment of a “lifelong ambition.”

“Entering the ring to further test myself as a human being is a challenge I have been looking to take on for quite some time,” he said.

Elba used to train kickboxing for fitness throughout his 20s; however, he has never fought professionally.

The actor has received several industry nods over the years for his dramatic work in both scripted television and feature films, including Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and the Netflix original Beasts of No Nation. In 2012, he took home a Golden Globe for best performance by a male actor in the British TV drama Luther. The same role will see him vie for an Emmy this year in the category of outstanding lead actor. The winners will be announced Sept. 18.

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.