This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
FORMER middleweight boxing champion of the world Hassan N’Dam wanted to repay the French hospital that cared for his father-in-law through his bout with Covid-19.
Perhaps with Champagne? Or chocolate? No, N’Dam thought: “These are things that won’t last. I wanted to leave something quite memorable.”
It occurred to him that he held the answer in his own hands — or rather, in his fists. He would give the staff at Villeneuve-Saint-Georges hospital boxing lessons, to help them relieve the tension of long shift work during the pandemic — “letting off steam, getting rid of all one’s emotions.”
“They have seen so many [difficult] things that they came here looking for something,” said N’Dam, who wore a sky-blue face mask as he spoke at the hospital. “Sometimes they came to laugh, to let off steam. Others came to discover something, others to learn, improve.”
The 36-year-old N’Dam, who represented Cameroon at the 2016 Olympic Games, has won 37 of 41 pro fights — 21 by knockout. His 30-minute training sessions have been immensely popular with the staff.
As a nurse in the intensive care unit, Marina De Carli has been on the front line of the pandemic since it hit France.
“In the ICU we see things that are not easy,” she said. “So it feels good to let the pressure drop a bit.”
Wearing camouflage-pattern shorts and a face mask, she threw punches into the burly boxer’s hands during her fifth and final class.
“Advance, advance, advance, go back, go back, go back,” N’Dam calmly advised her.
Operating theatre nurses Kenza Benour and Nassima Guermat warmed up for their training by skipping — awkwardly, because their shoes were covered with blue plastic protective shields.
Guermat’s strong left-right hook combinations pounded N’Dam’s hand pads, as his wife looked on.
The hospital boxing bouts also gave N’Dam valuable time to see his father-in-law, Jean-Claude Valero, as he recovered from the virus. On Wednesday, Valero was well enough to sit and watch N’Dam in action.
Philippe Wodecke, who works in part of the unit which treated Valero, was keen to learn from the ex-world champ. Dressed in crimson red tracksuit pants and wearing a T-shirt from the 2012 London Games, the orthopaedic surgeon’s pugilism belies his age.
Light on his toes, the stocky surgeon unleashes a quick four-punch combination that seems to surprise, and perhaps even impress N’Dam.
Wodecke’s boxing career is unlikely to take off. But the workouts have been an invaluable help for him and his weary colleagues.
“A moment of escape, a moment of relaxation amid the torment,” Wodecke said. “He’s done us a lot of good.”
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.