Killeigh resident Havilla Gorman pictured training for the White Collar Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) programme. Credit: Alan O'Donovan.

Offaly woman taking part in vigorous MMA programme in aid of charity

Killeigh resident Havilla Gorman recently decided to take part in the White Collar Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) programme in Éire Grapple (formerly SBG Tullamore) to improve her fitness and to raise money for Dochas Offaly.

Havilla is originally from Brazil but moved to Ireland 16 years ago and worked in a bar in Tullamore. She has since moved to Killeigh with her husband Fergie and son Ben.

“What was meant to be a short family visit turned into a complete move across the world,” said Havilla. “My family returned to Brazil and I decided to move to Ireland permanently.”

The Brazilian native is one of 16 locals taking part in the White Collar MMA programme. The other participants are as follows: Josh Downes, Andrew Carroll, Blaise Kenny, Mark Hobbs, Charles Duffy, David McNally, Stephen Dwyer, John Bracken, Chris O'Reilly, Darren Fogarty, David Cutler, Alan O'Donovan, Patrick Murphy, Elaine Kilroy and Cathal Sheerin.

As part of the challenge, some of the participants have decided to raise funds in aid of a charity close to their hearts. Havilla has chosen to raise money for Dochas Offaly.

She explained: “Last year my father-in0law had cancer, and after his treatment he went to Dochas for his aftercare. They gave him all the help and support they had and it made such a difference to his life, recuperation and recovery. I feel that Dochas are such a deserving charity and help so many families.”

Havilla's father-in-law Frank Gorman has run Gorman's shop in Killeigh for 35 years with his wife Liz.

She has always enjoyed fitness and has taken part in various CrossFit and fitness competitions over the last few years, but wanted to try something new with MMA to mix up her training and challenge herself.

“I felt I need to get out of my comfort zone,” said Havilla. “I also wanted to keep myself accountable, go to the gym consistently and get in better shape. The programme started four weeks ago and I have noticed a huge difference to my energy levels as well as stress and anxiety levels.”

The White Collar MMA challenge is a 16-week programme for people who have no martial arts experience. Havilla will train five days a week for 16 weeks and at the end of the challenge a finale event will be held in the Midlands Park Hotel in Portlaoise on May 12. The training involves Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA and kickboxing.

"The coaches and training are excellent and we are learning so much," Havilla said.

Havilla had never done MMA before taking on this challenge but she said that MMA is a very exciting sport which gave a new lease of life to her training.

“I had been previously training in my home gym so it was definitely a challenge returning to a busy gym environment but the sense of community that the other participants brought made it very easy to settle into a routine. I hadn’t trained in three or four months consistently so that was a challenge jumping into a five day a week schedule."

Havilla added that the programme has given her routine and structure and helped her to set targets and improve her diet and mindset. “I have made more friends and my confidence has grown. I look forward to it every day. I am learning a new skill which keeps me excited about my training and there is so much to learn.”

Havilla is aiming to raise €2,000 for Dochas Offaly on her GoFundMe and said that the other participants also hope to raise significant amounts for our chosen charities.

She is also a qualified hairdresser and runs her own business on Church Street in Tullamore called Hair by Havilla.

To donate to Havilla's GoFundMe visit