Brighton 26-year-old comes out fighting for his future after shock diagnosis

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A shock diagnosis, brutal prognosis, and 30kg weight loss has left a 26-year-old fighting for his new life – and with a bucket list full of sports challenges.

In what he calls a serious ‘wake-up call’, Tanis Roberts has now declared it his life's mission to compete in as many sports as possible in support of charities. His latest challenge, a ‘white collar’ boxing match, has been organised by Derby based Ultra Events.

At just 23 years old, Tanis was diagnosed with a liver condition.

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He admits: “Being so young and to be told there's a possibility of dying by the end of the year, well that was a serious wake-up call. I had to turn my life around – I'd already lost three grandparents to cancer”.

Tanis RobertsTanis Roberts
Tanis Roberts

There was more sadness to come, although Tanis didn’t' know it at this stage.

He continued: “I realised that I needed to take care of my body to keep it going. I had been living a terrible lifestyle. I was overweight and if I didn’t lose a significant amount of weight within a few months I would need a liver transplant.

“It was a shock, and I took it to heart.”

The gloves were off, and Tanis came out fighting changing almost everything about his lifestyle. However, he had never even stepped foot in a gym let alone done any kind of sport before.

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Changing his diet, he packed in as much exercise as the 2020 Covid restrictions would allow and shed an incredible 30kg in just three months taking his weight from 126kg to 96kg. “It fully turned around the situation with my liver”, he said.

Since then, Tanis has maintained his healthy weight and built on his fitness combining it with fund-raising.

Taking on the 2023 Brighton Marathon, as well as pounding the streets for a 10k for Albion in the Community, he’s ticking off his bucket list of sports.

While training for his first long distance run, his personal trainer suggested boxing to improve his cardio. “I quickly fell in love with it and found UWCB”, he said.

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Tanis, a software developer by profession, explained: “As soon as I saw that the fundraising went to Cancer Research UK, I knew it was the perfect sport to do next and signed up for an event in Brighton.”

Ultra’s White Collar Boxing events (UWCB) are organised across the country. Since its launch in 2009, more than 150,000 individuals have taken up challenges with the organisation, including white-collar boxing, ballroom dancing, mountain climbing and stand-up comedy.

The firm recently smashed its £30m charity fundraising target.

Tanis’s training, however, was tinged with sadness. He revealed: “Unfortunately, as fun as the training was, a friend of mine passed away due to bowel cancer during that time. It really spurred me on and reminded me just what I was fighting for.

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“For me, my fight wasn’t just a fun event, but another way to remember all of those I've lost.”

After eight weeks of free training sessions with Ultra, the final boxing match pitted Tanis against fellow fundraiser James “The Tank” Smith for a closely fought match.

He said: “I've loved every second, from the training to the final. It's pushed me beyond my limits, I’ve met some incredible people and have come out the other side happy and fitter than ever.”

While the boxing match decision didn’t go his way on the night, by the end of the competition, Tanis had roped in £270 for Cancer Research UK.

To discover more about Ultra Events, visit