Wide Angle

Diaspo #187 : Mohamed Jamai, boxing talent scout

After having succeeded in life thanks to boxing, French-Moroccan Mohamed Jamai created an association which oversees the second best club in France. Today, this father and former sportsman is preparing to publish a book on his life journey.

Mohamed Jamai and his children. / DR
Estimated read time: 3'

Mohamed Jamai is living proof of the role of sport in the supervision of young people. Born in Tangier, Morocco, this French-Moroccan is behind several sports, cultural and associative initiatives in the region of Bordeaux, France. His story started in the same country, in 1968, when his family joined, as part of a family reunification scheme, his father already present in France since the 1960s.

He then attended classes in Saint-Nazaire, in general mechanics. «I did not do any major studies at the start, I was a little unruly child but I played boxing which I liked a lot and which allowed me to find a balance», he told Yabiladi. «Boxing gave me a purpose. I was an average boxer», he added.

However, growing up in the Saige Formanoir district in Bordeaux, Mohamed Jamai noticed that there were quite a few difficulties within this district of 5,000 inhabitants and more than 40 nationalities. «There were young people, insecurity, drugs and weapons», he recalls. This observation and the impact of sport on his life led him to create the Ussap Boxe de Pessac, a boxing association and then a club in the same district aiming at integrating young people.

«At the time, politicians told me that in addition to having problems in the neighborhood, I was teaching young people to box and hit. It was in a way against the solutions sought for this area. However, Ussap Boxe ended up becoming the second best club in France».

Mohamed Jamai

From Ussap to the French Boxing Federation

The club has contributed into changing the lives of young people in his neighborhood for the better. Indeed, after the establishment of the Ussap Boxe, the French-Moroccan decided to go back to school and get a sports diploma. Today, Mohamed Jamai is a member of the French Boxing Federation and president of the National Commission for Integration through Sport.

After establishing the Ussap Boxe, the French-Moroccan created Union M, a cultural and musical association that has been organizing festivals and concerts for many years, including the Nuits du ramadan in Bordeaux. «In the neighborhood, all the people were 'parabolic', that is to say, they followed 2M and RTM broadcasts (Moroccan TV channels, ed) via satellite. So I wanted to bring in the artists we saw on television and this was a first for Bordeaux», he recalls. The ex-boxer brought several artists to the Bordeaux region, like Najat Aâtabou, Abdelaziz Stati, Saïd Senhaji, Mustapha Bourgone and even Jedouane.

The two NGOs allowed him to build up a wealth of connections. Moreover, thanks to Union M he got to know the actor and director Said Naciri. «After the creation of the boxing association, I trained a French-Moroccan boxer and we reached the French Boxing Finals in 2003, without being qualified for the Olympic selection», he said. Said Naciri then put him in contact with Khalid Rahilou, world champion and member of the Royal Moroccan Boxing Federation (FRMB), whose brother was in charge of the Moroccan national team. «I sent my boxer to Morocco and he was accepted in the national team. He even plays at the Olympic Games under the colors of Morocco», he recalls.

Budding champions and soon an autobiographical book

His ties with Morocco were never cut. For several years, this French-Moroccan has been leading, among others, actions targeting cities in the Kingdom. «In 2019, I did an action with the city of Rochefort which consists of an educational and humanitarian stay for the city of Tangier. We brought back a competition ring and boxing equipment», he explained. «We are still in contact with Azrou, Sefrou and with Fez and there are other things that will be done as soon as the pandemic ends», he promised.

Mohamed Jamai also knew how to transmit his love for boxing to his children. «There is my daughter Ambrine and my son Waïl who is a 4-times France champion and who has been boxing since the age of 5», he proudly said.

«He is registered for the Paris Olympics in 2024. For the moment, he is in the national French team. He has not yet chosen his colors but he can make it with both France or Morocco».

Mohamed Jamai

Jamai is convinced that «sport is an important vector for young people, a means which acts on confidence». If boxing has allowed the French-Moroccan sportsman to «become someone», he wants his career to inspire the younger generations he meets. «I had a pretty difficult life but I met a lot of people and thanks to boxing I succeeded in becoming what I am today», he recalled.

«I was born in a disadvantaged area of Tangier and I have had my share of adventures», said the ex-boxer who has just completed an autobiographical book. Said book is the result of five years of work and will be available in the coming days in bookstores in France.

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