Ike Ogbo clearly thrives when he’s up against the ropes – working as a doctor in accident and emergency, as well as boxing for Team GB.
For most people, either saving lives in a hospital or representing your country in the boxing ring would be enough pressure, but University of Exeter graduate Ike not only manages to combine the two but is excelling in both.
Ike, 30, studied medicine at Exeter between 2013 and 2018, spending four years at St Luke’s campus and one in Truro – a period he says he “absolutely loved” and looks back on with “really fond memories.” It was also during his time at university that Ike started to shine as a boxer, having come to the sport late while at high school in Bolton, but taking it even more seriously during his degree. Both studying medicine and boxing require time and commitment, and Ike says he didn’t figure out his busy schedule straight away.
“There was lot of trial and error, but I managed to find a way to make it work for me. For the most part it was just being disciplined with scheduling time and blocking out parts of the day to dedicate to each craft. There was nothing groundbreaking about the techniques that I used to balance the two, it was more just keeping myself accountable.”
Ike now works as an A&E doctor in Birmingham, constantly dealing with life and death situations and ultimately trying to heal people. Meanwhile, as a boxer his overall goal is to outscore his opponent and potentially deliver a knockout blow. Ike admits it may seem like a “paradox” but says the two areas of his life actually complement each other.
“The things that I take from my training and boxing competitions, I use in my job – especially in the accident and emergency department, which can be a very high stress environment with lots of quick-fire decisions and a lot of physical and mental impact. Having that mental and physical fortitude is perfectly embodied in both crafts.
“Boxing comes with physical discomfort and pain, and being able to deal with that provides a lot of psychological benefits and confidence to take on challenges. These are things that you can take into other areas of your life, whether that’s your career, your relationships, whatever it might be.”
For Ike, boxing also provides an outlet away from work. Sticking on a pair of gloves and going toe-to-toe with the world’s best fighters might not be for everyone, but Ike says it is incredibly important that doctors find something away from the medical environment to help them de-stress.
“You have to remove yourself from the all-consuming nature of the job, because it can drag you down mentally and physically if you engage too much in it without being able to take a step back. There was a lot of focus at Exeter on the importance of this, because the lecturers and clinicians know how tough medicine can be. Everybody needs to be able to unwind because if you can’t, then you’re much less able to help your patients.”
In his career Ike says he’s happy working in A&E but also has an interest in cardiology and, perhaps unsurprisingly as an athlete himself, sports medicine. As for boxing, while Ike won’t be going to the Olympics in Paris next year (the one spot in his weight category has already been filled) he is getting ready for the European and World Championships – as well as having hopes of competing at the Commonwealth Games in 2026.