The first fight of Chessy, 16 years old, boxer

“Do we weigh ourselves naked? »

1:30 p.m. The USSAP minibus arrives 30 minutes late, we must weigh in without delay. Chessy smiles, giving only one sign of nervousness: he taps his cell phone on his left thigh. “I slept well last night, I even slept on the bus,” he said between a few yawns.

“I don’t know my opponent, I haven’t seen his face or his name, all I know is that I’m going to give my best. »

He approaches a small room full of mysteries: a referee’s locker room. We expect him for the notebook-weighing-doctor triptych. It’s question time. No beard allowed, “am I going to keep my little mustache? he said of a thin down. “Do we weigh ourselves naked? »

Chessy enters, suddenly intimidated. He signs his notebook, which will list all his fights. He undresses slowly, keeps boxers, socks and his chain. 73 kilos 200. Round and smooth muscles, like his cheeks, his eyes curious about everything. Novice face and body, not a scar.

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He gets dressed, sits next to the doctor: she listens to his heart, measures his blood pressure. But what device measures the vortex of nerves and neurons?

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Boxing, a quest for peace

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Chessy Ibikambi, it is also called Symphony. He is 16 years old, soon to be 17, a year of boxing. He put on the gloves to gain confidence.

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In college, he took the worst hooks of the playground: racism, insults, harassment, those who hurt, more hurt than the direct ones in the ring. He was already strong, hours of bodybuilding, he loved sports. “My weakness was psychological, I stayed in my shell. »

Chessy with Adel Yahmdi on the left and the four other beginners of the day, Benoît, Younès, Yacine and Jocelyn


Chessy with Adel Yahmdi on the left and the four other beginners of the day, Benoît, Younès, Yacine and Jocelyn

“Some people don’t like quiet, successful black people, Chessy is kind, polite, open,” says her mother Symphonia. Hence the nickname Symphony, found by the club, the clan, the family: USSAP, de Pessac. This group, these coaches, no hook there, he liked it straight away. “Today I assume myself, I have more self-confidence, I am no longer being sought out as before. In boxing, I want to go as high as possible, to become a pro. »

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Laughter, jokes, and little by little silence

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In the locker room, it’s still discovery. How to tap your opponent’s gloves during the pre-fight salute? Yacine has the recipe: “You put more force than him, you show him that you are not there to make up the numbers. »

Jocelyn valve: “Hey guys, be careful, the enemy locker room is next door, they hear everything! »

Chessy starts a show, hilarious. “It’s not going to change anything! Can you imagine, before the fight, the guy comes up to you, he whispers in your ear, “man, I got your game!” General laughter.

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It’s still joking. On the advantage of going first or last of the eight fights. They think of Mohammed Jamaï, general trainer, absent today but who did mental preparation. “He’s not there, but he’s there, says Yacine, he got into our heads. He convinced us that the adversaries are weaker than us. »

Another burst of laughter when Jocelyn leaves the locker room. Most of his beard is shaved off, but he will try to save his goatee. He comes back beaten. “Nice try,” laughs Younes.

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Key moment: Adel displays the list of fights, with the names of the opponents.

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Little by little, silence wins over the floodgates. Adel Yahmdi opens the bag of shorts, tank tops, hulls and helmets. Tension: Chessy has put on his shorts without the hull. He has to start over.

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One last valve. Chessy puts deodorant under Younes’ armpits and then puts it on. “Are you going to flirt or are you going to fight? growls Adel. “Flirt yes! laughs Chessy, her last smile of the afternoon.

On the dark side of the force

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Adel passes a blow to his boxers for their shoes, vulgar sneakers. “We don’t come here to run. The referee, he looks at the outfits, those who respect their sport, or those who don’t care about it… If a decision is close, who will it lean towards? The material is part of boxing. Today you are learning, so know that when you step into the ring, you must be beautiful, equipped. USSAP is respected because it has produced champions, respect that. »

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Chessy finds himself in front of the mirror, warms up alone then shoulder to shoulder with freshly shaved Jocelyn. “I think I know who I’m fighting against…” he breathes. A tall sec from Cenon (33), square mouth, assured, a Bulgarian who does more than Cadet 2e year.

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Yes, it’s in the ring, red corner. He is watching a cheering video on a smartphone. Adel whispers his advice to Chessy, “no fighting, boxing like in the gym”. Then orders: “Come on, come in. For three rounds of two minutes, Symphony swings into a new world. Where only the voice of his trainer connects him to what is familiar to him.

Video: the fight

At the appointment of the ring, you have to be on time

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On Chessy’s face since 2e round, worry, because this fight escapes him, he is tired, stunned, not confident. The decision is no surprise.

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This is Mysey Ivanov, Shadows and Light of Cenon, born December 26, 2006. Blood is dripping from Chessy’s nose onto her blue tank top. Then there will be the red in the eyes, the trace of tears, concealed.

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You know what it is now, Chessy. It’s the fight. This is the first, don’t worry, there will be others. You go to work, it’s nothing, you’re disappointed but the first fight means nothing. It’s not a tournament, not a championship, it’s a gala, a test, like training. Your goal is not that, what is it? The french team. So we will have to work.

Adel Yahmdi

The coach alternates comfort and calls for effort.

“The important thing is how you will react. You have to be on time in training, you haven’t been on time lately and in boxing, if you slack off, you pay cash.

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He wanted more than you, he was really hitting. It’s nothing, trust me, don’t be disappointed, next time you win. »

“Now it’s all down to his reaction”

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Adel comments: “He was nice, he was not aggressive. The other yes. »

Chessy speaks little, but just. “I’m disappointed because I didn’t give it my all. I thought too much about the environment, the result, and what will happen if I lose. »

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The saddened colossus will take two hours to remove his bands, “I thought about it, but I didn’t, I’m still in my fight”. He lugs around his shirtless in the middle of the team, and his solitary disappointment: he is the only USSAP to have lost this Saturday.

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“Adel, he knows how to get you back in shape, enthuses one, when you taste it, you want to go back. »

“I’m proud of you all, huh Chessy!” thunders Adel.

Chessy has trouble swallowing. “Basically, I have my own boxing in the gym. There, it was not my boxing. “It looks like I’m boxing there, I’m hot, I’m sure I’ll knock him out.”

80% of guys box below what they can do, says Adel. Chessy was better than him but psychologically overwhelmed because the other fell on him. Now, everything depends on his reaction: if on Monday he comes to the gym on time and starts working alone, it will be fine, if he is late or no longer comes…

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Chessy, four days later

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A few days later, the USSAP Pessac boxer returns, photos in hand, to this moment: joy, fear, laughter, tension, fraternity in the ring, intensity of blows. Lessons and beauty of sport.

The first fight of Chessy, 16 years old, boxer