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  1. ITV Report

MMA star Leah McCourt urges people to get talking

MMA star Leah McCourt has spoken out about some of the struggles she has faced, both inside and outside of the cage.

The 27-year-old is one of Northern Ireland's top fighters and she brings new meaning to the word 'busy'.

Leah travels to Dublin every day to work with top coaches, trains three times a day, runs her own martial arts class and is a single parent.

"To be an MMA fighter, you have to have a lot of resilience," she said.

"You're going to have so many trials, especially being a female and having male sparring partners all the time.

"When I look back at the life lessons and everything I've learned, it just shows if you keep pushing through, you're going to come out the other end."

Leah has a big following on social media.

She regularly posts updates on her career, but she says she’s also wary of the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

"Social media can be a great thing but it can also be a bad thing," said Leah.

“People see all the positives and see all the highs and they don't realise how much goes on behind closed doors.

"I have so many trials I have to overcome and so much happens to me.

"It is teaching young people to realise that, and to realise that it's not always real life and that isn't what happens every single day in people's lives."

As a successful female in a male-dominated industry, Leah is a role model to many women not just in the sporting world but also in Belfast.

She says she hopes her daughter Isobella and many more will approach life with the same fighting attitude as she has.