Boxer gets in ring with French hospital workers

By Cindi Cook

PARIS (AA) – A former five-time world boxing champion in France seeks to thank healthcare workers by giving boxing lessons to the staff at a Paris hospital.

Hassan N'Dam is offering the sessions without charge to beleaguered medical professionals at the Villeneuve-Saint-George Hospital in Val-de-Marne after their successful treatment of his father-in-law for the novel coronavirus.

"This hospital looked after my father-in-law for seven weeks, so I'm giving them what they gave us: life," said N'Dam.

The sessions offer stress relief, exercise and respite for the hard-working employees and are open to all levels, surgeons, doctors, nurses, and support staff alike.

N'Dam gives his 45-minute lessons five times a week at a relaxed pace to provide a much-needed haven for those working in extreme conditions during the current pandemic.

"It's intense and pretty hardcore. It's hard because there's a lot of technique and takes up a lot of energy. It does me a lot of good. My muscles ache after!" says pediatric surgeon Akila Derguini.

The lessons will continue until the end of the month, at which time N'Dam will return to training.

The 36-year-old French-Cameroonian boxer is ranked ninth in the world in the middleweight class, according to August 2019 rankings. N'Dam has held two middleweight titles, the WBA title, which he won in 2017, and the WBO title in 2012.

N'Dam represented Cameroon in the 2004 Olympics, and then moved to France where he continued to train and fight professionally. He also competed in the 2016 Olympics, again representing Cameroon, but lost early in the competition. His professional accomplishments have included many wins all over the world.

Moussa Kanoute, a hospital porter at Villeneuve-Saint-George, is excited about the physiological, as well as psychological, benefits of the workouts.

"You come to escape, to unwind," he said. "It gives us a boost. It does a lot of good. It shows you that you are capable of doing things."

Authorities have also taken notice of the initiative.

"It's almost like a pop-up, a safe space for relaxation during the crisis," said Human Resources Director Aurelian Stival, who understands that the benefits to the staff are enormous during an exceptionally stressful time.

"There are also psychologists here," he said of the variety of personnel who partake in the sessions, adding that even those practicing mental health have to take a breather.

"This space was created for staff who are having a difficult day and need a break."

The experience has motivated N'Dam to perform more charity work in the future as he goes on to pursue training for his sixth world champion title.

"I want to give something back," he said.

The intensity of the COVID-19 outbreak in France has been on the decline in the past few weeks, with a total of 144,163 cases, 63,858 of which have recovered.

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By Handan Kazanci

ANKARA (AA) - Anadolu Agency is here with a rundown of the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic and other news in Turkey and around the world.

- Coronavirus in Turkey

Turkey on Thursday confirmed 926 additional recoveries as the country began easing measures against the novel coronavirus, according to the country’s health minister.

The total number of recoveries from the disease hit 131,778 as 926 more patients were discharged from hospitals over the past day, Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter, citing Health Ministry data.

The country's death toll from the outbreak rose to 4,630 as Turkey reported 21 new fatalities over the last 24 hours.

Turkey conducted over 54,000 COVID-19 tests in the past 24 hours, bringing the total tally to more than 2.2 million, said Koca.

Meanwhile, Turkey plans to resume international flights to 40 countries gradually as of June 10, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said Thursday.

International flights from Turkey will carry passengers first to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Qatar and Greece, Karaismailoglu said in a statement.

Turkey suspended all international flights on March 28 amid COVID-19-related travel restrictions worldwide.

- Global coronavirus developments

A low death toll was once again recorded Thursday as France recovers from the coronavirus pandemic which plagued the country over the last three months, according to the latest statistics reported by the Health Ministry.

The country registered a total of 46 deaths in hospitals Thursday, a drop of 39 cases over those reported Wednesday.

Italy on Thursday reported 88 more fatalities from the pandemic, bringing the death toll to 33,689 as authorities unveiled new guidelines to prevent crowded summer spots like beach resorts from becoming new virus hotbeds.

The slowing trend in the number of deaths registered in May continued in early June, confirming that the peak of the crisis has been passed.

Face masks on English public transport will be mandatory from June 15, the British government announced Thursday, as a further 176 people died from the coronavirus over the past 24 hours.

British authorities announced that the UK-wide death toll from COVID-19 is now 39,904.

As Spain prepares for its state of emergency over COVID-19 to last until June 21, the Health Ministry reported Thursday that 195 more people were infected with the coronavirus and five more had died.

The number of infections diagnosed Wednesday was down slightly from the 219 people who tested positive Tuesday but up from Monday and Sunday. In total, 240,660 infections have been confirmed in the country.

Health officials in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza announced Thursday the arrival of medical supplies sent by Turkey to help fight the novel coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra confirmed that two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines had been delivered for detecting the virus.

- George Floyd Memorial service

Hundreds of mourners on Thursday attended the first of several memorials for George Floyd – an unarmed black man who was killed in police custody on May 25.

The service at North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota was attended by Floyd's family and Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing the family, as well as celebrity guests.

Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday urged demonstrators joining protests over the death of George Floyd to get tested for the novel coronavirus.

Speaking at his daily press briefing, Cuomo said around 30,000 people have taken part in the statewide protests demanding justice for the killing of the unarmed black man in police custody.

Of them, 20,000 were involved in rallies in New York City.

In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged citizens not to overlook the racism problem in Germany while intensely discussing racism and police brutality in the US after the death of George Floyd.

"This murder of George Floyd is very, very terrible. Racism is something terrible,” Merkel said Thursday evening in an exclusive interview with public broadcaster ZDF.

“Racism has always been present, but sadly we also have this [problem]. We should first sweep in front of our own door,” she stressed.

- Other developments

Turkey and Libya plan to advance cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean, including exploration and drilling activities, to further benefit from natural resources, Turkey’s president said in a meeting with Libya’s prime minister Thursday.

The meeting between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fayez al-Sarraj took place at the presidential palace in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Erdogan said Turkey and Libya have reached a consensus on expanding their cooperation areas on the territory of Libya.