A WORLD champion Thai boxer has packed a punch with pupils by encouraging them to reach their full potential through sport.

Students at Darlington School of Mathematics and Science (DSMS) were put through their paces by Harrogate-born Rachael MacKenzie, who leads the world rankings for Women’s Thai Boxing, as part of the Sky Sports Living for Sport programme.

Miss Mackenzie, who took up boxing while studying at university, is also the holder of two British titles, a European title and was the first European woman to compete in traditional bare-knuckle Thai boxing in Thailand.

“My role as a mentor for Sky Sports Living for Sport has enabled me to help inspire and motivate young people in schools across the UK to be the best they can be,” she said.

“I suffered quite a few knockbacks and defeats in my early career but this only served to spur me on even more to succeed and I decided not to let myself be beaten anymore.

“The lesson I learnt, and what I tell young people today, is that if you pick yourself up, look at yourself honestly and know that you have given everything you can give then there is nothing you can’t achieve.”

Rachael also spent time with DSMS’s young sports leaders discussing the benefits of sport, goal setting and life choices before a practical master class in the art of Thai Boxing.

“The students here have been so inspiring,” she said. “It is amazing to see so much enthusiasm and desire to achieve.”

Head teacher Calvin Kipling said: “Having people like Rachel come into school enables our students to gain a wider experience and broaden their aspirations and knowledge outside of normal lessons.”