Saintfield MMA Star Raises Funds Fighting Coronavirus

Northern Ireland MMA star keeps fighting fit during lockdown by raising funds for a charity battling coronavirus.

Northern Ireland MMA star keeps fighting fit during lockdown by raising funds for a charity battling coronavirus.

MMA champion Leah McCourt is lending her ‘featherweight’ to a good cause by completing a gruelling sponsored strength and endurance challenge for the charity Christian Aid. The charity is responding to the coronavirus crisis in some of the poorest countries in the world.

Over five days, the 27-year-old Saintfield woman will be completing 10,000 repetitions with a weighted bag known as a Bulgarian bag, used by combat athletes to build strength.

Saintfield MMA fighter Leah McCourt in action with an opponent pinned to the floor.

Starting Monday 11 May, Leah will complete the daunting daily task of 2,000 squats and lunges. And she will be carrying on her shoulders the crescent-shaped bag filled with 15 kilos of sand and wool. Each daily session is likely to take up to 3 hours to complete.

Christian Aid tackles the root causes of poverty around the world. It is currently responding to the coronavirus crisis in nearly 20 countries. Raising awareness is an important aim about coronavirus. This includes the importance of regular hand washing and physical distancing to prevent the spread of the disease. Christian Aid also distributes soap and helps improve access to water.

In order to carry out its work, the charity relies heavily on the donations it receives each Christian Aid Week (10-17 May). But the majority of these donations come from door-to-door and annual church service collections. Neither of these is possible because of current restrictions.

MMA fighter from Saintfield,Leah McCourt,
is taking on a coronavirus challenge for
Christian Aid.

In response, this year Christian Aid is encouraging people to raise money by taking part in a sponsored stay-at-home challenge. Examples include completing 1,000 star jumps in the living room, or a half marathon in the back garden. Or you could do the equivalent of a mountain climb by walking up and down the stairs.

Leah McCourt urged others to follow her example and said: “The current crisis has left many people feeling helpless. But it is still possible to do something positive and help others during the lockdown. Exercise is important for our physical and mental health, but it also lifts your spirits knowing you are raising funds to support a good cause.”

As the pandemic passes its peak in the developed world, the aid agency hopes that Leah McCourt’s endorsement will raise funds vital to slowing the spread of the virus in developing countries where there are few, if any, ventilators and ICU beds.

Christian Aid Ireland Chief Executive Rosamond Bennett thanked Leah for her support, saying: “Leah is a true champion and I hope she inspires others to take up the challenge. Christian Aid works in some of the poorest countries in the world, and coronavirus cases have been reported in every one of them. We know the impact the virus has had here but poor countries don’t have enough doctors and nurses and very few, if any ventilators or ICU beds.

“People won’t get the treatment they need if they do fall ill, so it’s vital we do all we can to help make sure people protect themselves from coronavirus and help prevent the spread of the disease.”

The first supporter to follow Leah’s example and sign up for an ‘Active Aid’ lockdown challenge was Gareth Dunlop from Newtownabbey, County Antrim. Gareth, who sits on the board of Christian Aid Ireland, has committed to cycling the length of Ireland, Malin Head to Mizen Head, on a static bike in the garage of his home.

To support Leah McCourt’s sponsored stay-at-home challenge, visit her Justgiving page at:

To sign up for Christian Aid’s Active Aid campaign, visit: