It all started in 2015, when a young emigrant decided to move from his home country to one of the most famous and busiest cities in the world: Paris!

One day, on the way back to his uncles in St. Cloud, while he was about to catch the train at Gare de La Defense, he saw a couple of young kids with boxing gloves, helmets, and bags under their arms. He saw that they were happy and excited after their workout, looking like he felt back in his surfing days after a day on the waves off the coast of Portugal. The equipment under their arms were of a sport that always crossed his mind, but neither he nor his friends had the courage to try it- feeling it was too dangerous. Peer and family pressure kept saying: boxing is too violent; the environment is bad, filled with people that just want to fight and do harm to others; you’re going to suffer brain damage if you get badly hit in the head- choose another sport!

But, he was going to give it a shot and approach it differently…

As soon as he arrived home, he started looking for boxing clubs and reading online reviews. He found a small, personal, and spacious one to give a try. He booked an introductory session online that night. The next day, full of excitement and adrenaline, he didn’t hesitate to take a 50 minute train ride then a 20 minute metro connection and a 15 minute walk to get to the club. Inside he was met by a young, local coach with a big smile that asked him if he was a novice (though he could tell that he was without asking). The coach helped him rent gloves, bands, and find a locker in the changing room.

Walking out of the locker room, any anxiety of swinging his way into the world of this sport disappeared as other students took the time to look up from their focused training regimen to greet him. The class began, and it was 50 minutes of an intense workout, but also 50 minutes (mostly) of pleasure. His moves weren’t the smoothest, but the adrenaline rush was enough for him to be hooked (pardon the pun). The coach was happy with his commitment. After a hot shower for his sore muscles and to contemplate what he just gotten into, he had the chance to socialize with the other boxers about their backgrounds and what led them to put on boxing gloves that day. All of a sudden, the feeling of mission accomplished came over him, and he realized that he had found the life-changing adventure that he was looking for when he did a boxing club search on the Internet just a few nights before.

During the coming months, he continued to take the train for the center of Paris and keep up his training. He felt his life was improving more-and-more. The moment the doors of the gym closed behind him and he started his training routine, he found himself detached from the outside world and society. It was just him and his boxing.

Sometimes it can be a challenge to find ways to fit in to a new country and/or culture. Boxing was one way for him to do so because in the gym, all his problems and worries melt way. When he is training, there are no different cultures, colors, or sexual orientations; just people following rules and procedures of a centuries-old sport. At the end of each training session, he feels more confident about himself and able to look at the world and its inhabitants in a different way: important problems became small problems; small pleasures became important pleasures.

It has been a couple of years now since that introductory boxing session with the smiling coach. His boxing skills have improved, and he even participated in an amateur event, but most importantly- life has gotten better.

He continues to take the train to train in the boxing bubble within Paris, representing a new generation of amateur boxers using an old sport to make sense of today’s new world.