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Cancer survivor who ‘couldn’t walk up stairs’ labelled warrior on Gladiators

A cancer survivor who “couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs” during his battle with leukaemia was labelled a warrior on BBC One’s Gladiators.

The sports entertainment show, which was originally broadcast from 1992 to 2000 in the UK, debuted 16 new “superhumans” when the show kick-started last weekend.

During the show’s second episode, occupational therapy student John, from Preston, was introduced as one of the episode’s four contestants who would take on the Gladiators.

The 31-year-old revealed he had overcome leukaemia and also won a Guinness World Record for pulling a 1.5-tonne vehicle the furthest distance in 24 hours.

Speaking to co-host Barney Walsh, John said: “I’ve been big into my fitness but when I was 16, unfortunately, I got diagnosed with leukaemia, to the point where I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs, to now being a Guinness World Record holder and about to take on the Gladiators.

“So I’m standing here and just saying anything’s possible when you’ve got the right mindset and determination and belief in yourself.”

After facing the challenge Power Ball, John took part in The Edge and was very quickly taken down by Apollo – in the game which involved being lifted 30 feet into the air.

Afterwards, Apollo told the competitor: “From all the people that have lost someone that they love to leukaemia, to see you here, living your best life, here on Gladiators, nothing but respect for you my man. You’re a champion, you’re a warrior.”

In the challenge Gauntlet, John successfully managed to get past Viper, Phantom, Steel and Giant – who were tasked with stopping him getting to the finish line.

Other challenges included Duel, where John took on 6ft 6ins contestant Bionic, and The Wall, which John won when he battled Legend.

The show culminated with the obstacle course The Eliminator, and John was beaten by steelworker Jake, meaning that he also lost a place in the quarter-finals.

Hosting the 11-episode series revamp is Barney and his father, presenter of The Chase Bradley Walsh.

The original American Gladiators series was broadcast in the US in 1989 and became so popular a UK version was made starting in 1992, presented by Ulrika Jonsson and footballer John Fashanu.

Between 2008-2009 Gladiators, was brought back for a short run on Sky.

Gladiators continues on BBC One.