A TEENAGER hoping to swap her paper round for a spot on Team GB will take part in a fierce tournament this month.

Paper girl Ellie Barker – who has been delivering Northern Echo newspapers for over two years – is preparing to fight in a tournament for the chance to represent Team GB in Muay Thai.

Muay Thai is the national sport and cultural martial art of Thailand. It was developed hundreds of years ago as a form of close-combat that uses the entire body as a weapon.

The Bishop Auckland fighter was introduced to Muay Thai at seven years old by her father Anthony Barker.

Mr Barker took Ellie and her older sister to the gym to learn them how to stick up for themselves.

He said: "She started off doing MMA (mixed martial arts) as I wanted them to know how to protect themselves and just generally teach them how to be active and healthy but Ellie was a natural. She took to the sport really quickly.

"Even when she first started you could tell straight away she was good, she had the balance and coordination you need."

Since the 15-year-old took up the sport she has earned world and international titles and is now looking to fight in her dream venue at the Macron Stadium in Bolton.

Ellie and her family have recently returned from Thailand where she took part in her first pro fight and won.

Ellie faced 24-year-old Swedish fighter Latifah Solomon in the international match despite being only 15.

Mr Barker added: “I’m so proud of everything she has achieved.

"To see her training in Thailand in January was phenomenal. They train really hard over there, I nearly took her out of it because of how hard it was, but Ellie took it in her stride and got through it.

“I’m hoping she does really well in the upcoming Glasgow trials as it will be a very tough tournament and you can never say what will happen in a fight.”

The fighter now has 60 matches under her belt and 53 victories to her name.

She will take to the ring in Glasgow next week against an opponent for the chance to become part of Team GB's Mauy Thai team.

In the future, Ellie hopes to enter the adult ranks when she turns 16 – something she has not been able to do because of the age restriction on matches which allow head contact.

Ellie trains intensively for hours every day at the Hanuman Thai Boxing Club in Bishop Auckland and is on a strict diet to reach her fighting weight.

Her hard work has earned her sponsorship and support from Glen Stockley Solutions, Capo Management and Yokkao sportswear.