From poverty to Olympic gold – The boxing twins’ dream | DW Documentary

From poverty to Olympic gold – The boxing twins’ dream | DW Documentary

From poverty to Olympic gold – The boxing twins’ dream | DW Documentary

The Hansen twins share a dream. As boxers, they want to win gold medals at the Olympics! Assan and Ousainou’s role models are the Klitschko brothers.

Born in Gambia, they lost their father at an early age and lived in abject poverty. They came to Germany at the age of nine with their mother, and were adopted by their stepfather. When they saw a movie about the Klitschkos on television, they knew that was what they wanted too. Both have since won several German championship titles and celebrated their first international successes. Now, the Olympics is within reach. But they still have to qualify. Because they’re not the only ones dreaming of boxing at the Olympics…

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Video Transcript

We come from Gambia. Things aren’t easy there. As a child, you learn what it’s like to fight. Including fighting for survival. I’m Assan Hansen. I’m 23. I’m Ousainou Hansen, I’m 23 too. We’re twins, and our dream is to go to the Olympics. Not just to compete but to win gold. That’s the goal.

Yes! We’ve given everything to get this far, so we can’t let it slip now. You can get a bit nervous because you think: What if it doesn’t work out? You get up and there’s this thought in your head that you might get to compete in the Olympic Games.

You go to sleep thinking exactly the same thing. There’s no second of the day when you’re not thinking about it. Everything you do in life, everything you eat, the places you go everything is about that one thing. We’re finally going home after a long time, I think a month or more.

We can’t wait. We’ll finally see the family again. Either Dad picks us up or friends pick us up. Mostly it’s Dad. Martin is everything to us. He’s like our dad. When we talk about our father, our dad, we’re talking about him, because he’s the only dad we have. He’s given us his values.

He’s given us everything a father can pass on to his children. So in that way he’s our father. He took on that role straight away. Right from the start it was like: That’s our dad. I’m so excited to see the boys again. It’s wonderful. I’m really happy. Hi! Hi! My dear.

I’m well, how are you? Good! My sweet mouse! So there’s food? Is it ready? Mom wasn’t with us. She was in Germany, and she’d visit us in Gambia every few months. Mom was fighting for the family, trying to organize a better life for us.

Back then we were really being raised by our aunts, uncles, grandad and grandma. I can still remember the days when she’d leave. We’d be completely miserable for up to two weeks after that. We knew she was doing it for us and that she’d be coming back.

But there was still this feeling that our Mom had gone away. We never got to meet our dad. He died when we were still very young. Martin came into our lives when we were still in Gambia. One time Mom brought Martin back with her. That’s when we first got to know him.

She said: This is my boyfriend. And then one night they came and said: We have some news for you. And Martin said: I want to marry your mom. Would that be okay? And of course we were like: Yes, if you love each other then get married.

To begin with, the two of them went back to Germany and we stayed. They started the whole process with our papers. And after a few years, we moved to Germany. Straight away, we could tell that Dad had a really, really good heart. What I admire most about him is his strength.

He’s the kind of person who never gives up. And he works really hard. Right from the start it was really clear to me. If we were going to be together and she had children, then I’d be just as much the boys’ father as a biological father. There’s no difference.

We used to watch the Klitschko brothers box on TV. They’d have a fight every couple of months or so, and we’d watch with the whole family. We thought it was great, and then one day we found out they were brothers. And we thought that was really cool.

Two really successful brothers doing the same sport, boxing together. Sharing that life. Yeah, and that really inspired us. We thought: We can do that too. Money was always tight because we were quite a big family over there. Everyone had to be fed. And sometimes there were days when you really went hungry.

We used to play football here. Over there was the old sports hall. That’s where we started boxing. And by the way, Assan was the first to start boxing. We just saw it on TV and thought it was really interesting. I decided to start training. And a week later, you joined.

I remember him saying that boxing training was really cool. He was so enthusiastic. I thought: I don’t wanna miss out! I have to get involved too. This is the Wilhelm Leuschner School, the coolest school in the world. The old elementary school. That climbing frame was amazing. Do we ring the bell? I’ll knock.

Assan! Ousainou! Who’s who? I’m Assan, the prettier one… One of you had red swimming trunks and one had blue. I had red and he had blue. Regina! Come here! Our boys! Hello! How are you? Good. And you? Good to see you! You too! How old were you when you came here? Nine.

Our very first day of school was brutal. We came in the middle of the school year. Our very first recess, we went outside to have a look around and that’s when it happened: The entire school every single kid made a circle around us. Everyone wanted to meet us. They were just curious.

But of course we were really scared. We didn’t know what was going on! Back then we were the only dark-skinned kids. That’s why they were curious, because there weren’t any other dark-skinned kids at the school. Everything was new. We didn’t know the language, we didn’t understand anything.

It was completely scary and overwhelming for us. At some point the teachers came and got the other kids to give us some space. Over time, we got used to it. And the more we picked up the language, the better our relationships became with the other kids.

Just now we were walking along and suddenly all the children came up to us, really excited. They wanted autographs. It was almost like back then. All the memories came flooding back. Everyone crowding around us But this time we weren’t scared, we were ready for it.

It was a nice surprise to meet the teachers again. They were so happy. And they still remember us! I’m so proud of you both. Thank you! We never experienced racism here in Egelsbach. When we started high school in Langen, which is the next town over,

The older kids would make jokes, calling us the N-word or other racist names. We often heard things like that, people asking if we’d been burned or calling us monkeys. You heard stuff like that a lot, but as a child you sort of repress it.

The older you got, the more you learnt to accept the fact that it existed. I also think it was good that we were already pretty tough. We’d come from a country where things aren’t easy. You learn very early on as a child — what it’s like to struggle, to fight for survival.

You also see how other people struggle for survival. So you learn a thing or two. And then in a certain way, things that might be hard for other people don’t really get to you. My opponent today is very, very strong. He’s from the US. He’s recently won some really tough tournaments. I’m excited.

This whole time I’ve been looking forward to it, I’ve wanted to box against him. And today I get that chance. And yeah, you can say he’s one of the best in the world. I have a sparring session against the reigning world champion from the US.

It’s going to be a very, very tough fight. But I’m really looking forward to it. Because if you want to be the best, you have to compete against the best. It’s a huge honor to be able to go toe-to-toe with the world champion. You fight your best against strong opponents.

I wouldn’t say I have stage fright. Nervousness does come into it, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be great. That was tough — really tough. He was really hard. His experience really showed. He was definitely the better fighter. I didn’t do too badly, but it could have been much better.

But next time. Step by step. By the time we meet in Paris, I’ll be ready to beat him. Assan! Keep the leading hand strong. First the leading hand then a hook, because he wants to punch over your hand. Get in there! That was a real battle.

It was really good, I really pushed myself to my limits. The opponent was extremely strong. I didn’t think he’d be so strong. I’m a bit sad that I couldn’t pull out all the stops against such a strong guy. But it was a good experience, so I’m thankful.

You know what I could really go for right now? A sauna. Or a cold pool. The Q’uran is always there with us. That’s a given. You read a passage and then… and then it gives you a bit of strength and energy, the kind of spiritual strength that you need.

When you feel that, things are completely different. So it’s important. My brother and I live together in Heidelberg. We have a one-bedroom apartment on the top floor. We’ve been living here for a year now. We even share a bed. I mean, the bed’s pretty big. So there are never any problems.

I remember in Africa: The bed was smaller than this one, and maybe five of us would sleep on it together Aunts, cousins We all shared a bed. So a bed like this is fine. At home we each had our own room but we still used to sleep in the one bed.

We were used to it. You know what I think? I think life without us here is pretty boring. Says you! When we’re here the atmosphere’s totally different. They’re laughing but it’s true. It always bothered me when sometimes the boys would lose on points.

I thought it was stupid, because they have different skin color. And I don’t want to accuse anyone but sometimes it might play a role in the scoring. The surest win is a knock-out win. Dad used to show us what we call the power-punch.

He’d read lots of Bruce Lee books and watched lots of videos. A guy like Bruce Lee was a light-weight. What did he weigh, 50 kilos or a bit more? But how much power did he put into his fist? Of course, there is a certain fear of failure…

You shouldn’t let little feelings like fear or anxiety make you feel smaller. Instead, you use them to make yourself feel even stronger. I’m sad I didn’t make it. But the fact that he’ll be up there in the ring today makes me so proud.

I forget that I’m not participating, because if he’s there, I’m there too. I prayed this morning and I’ll definitely say a prayer at lunchtime too. I’ll just pray and hope. There’s nothing more we can do now. Everything’s in God’s hands, and Assan’s own hands. Do you get nervous when Assan fights?

Yes, always. I’m not watching. You’re not watching? Nope. You have to watch! Listen, I’ll sit beside you. If you get scared you can snuggle up to me. I can cover your eyes. Everything’ll be fine. No. Fight! Assan, fight! Let’s go! Good! Keep it up! Okay, final round. Come on!

Look, the Ukrainian’s playing dirty. He steps back but holds on with his left hand and the referee can’t see it. But Assan can’t let that slide. Yes! Yes! Jaaaaa! It was a split decision, so the judging was close. But I’m happy that the referee or let’s say the judges

Saw what was happening and gave him the points. Because it was a really close fight. Assan’s lost against him twice in the past. But today he finally got the win! The ‘24 Olympics is our big goal. But it definitely won’t be a walk in the park.

The others have sacrificed just as much and trained just as hard. It’ll be really difficult. But if we really want it and if we give it our all then our chances aren’t bad. In the end, it comes down to who wants it the most.

And I don’t think anyone wants it more than me except him, of course. That’s why I think we have a good chance. The closer the fight gets, the more nervous I am. When the time actually comes I’ll be a complete mess. I just hope he wins.

He’s up against a really strong, well-known opponent who’s won a lot of titles. He’s an Olympic silver medalist. I think he won silver at the 2016 Olympics and he’s also won two World Championship titles. But beating strong opponents is why we’re here. I know Assan can do it. It’s really, really frustrating.

It’s a real shame, but he boxed really well. He did his best. I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I thought he did really well. I might even have given him the win, but he’s my brother. I don’t have a problem with the points decision.

The qualification defeat in Krakow really got me down. Everything went dark; it felt like it was all over. It was a shock. I didn’t want to accept it. My body was fighting against the idea that what had just happened was real.

Sooner or later, I knew I had to close the book on it and move on. No matter what happens, they’ll keep on going. They’ll always find a new path when they have to. Whether it’s sport or something else — they’ll succeed. I think the dream of Olympic gold is closer now than ever.

I believe we can do more than compete; we can win gold medals. I’m confident about that.

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Video “From poverty to Olympic gold – The boxing twins’ dream | DW Documentary” was uploaded on 03/24/2024 by DW Documentary Youtube channel.