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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La boxe pour combattre la violence

by Philippe Roch

Boxing Against Violence

Translated Tuesday 26 September 2006, by Emily Plank

Behind the stereotype of being a "violent sport", boxing is a way of achieving personal fulfilment.

Up and coming boxers appear in the ring with a puppet of the completely inoffensive cartoon characters, the Teletubbies, attached to the top of their helmet. “It’s about allowing the general public to discover an activity that has a tendency to be linked with violence”, explains head of sports, Jean-Jacques Petit. English boxing (the main form), French kickboxing (popular among younger people) and Thai boxing (a great spectacle) had the place of honour during the 2006 edition of the l’Humanité festival. “All these types of boxing involve an educational side,” continues Jean-Jacques Petit. "They possess qualities which are important for maintaining good health and personal fulfilment.”

Coming out of the ring, Raphaël Anacleto, 17, gives his first impressions: “It’s very technical – you have to constantly anticipate, dodge, guess your opponent’s weak and strong points…Until now I had never seen fighting sports in this light.”

Both world champions and ordinary teachers control the bouts. In educational boxing, one speaks of bouts, not fights. In the same way, the term “blow” is prohibited and has been replaced with the notion of a “touch”. “The winner is the one who displays technique while engaging in a series of touches”, explains Jonathan Di Ponio, technical assistant in France’s 93rd département. “The young people learn to respect the rules and values in their club, which will help them for the rest of their lives.”

Boxing, violent? Abdulah Harnoufi, teacher at the Olympic Ring in Livry-Gargan, also disagrees. "Possessing boxing techniques allows a person to control his or her emotions in the event of aggression. When you know how to defend yourself, you tend to prefer arguments of a different sort.”

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