Dieumerci is boxing his way to a bright future
27-year-old Dieumerci is one of Rotherham’s promising boxing champions! He gets plenty of time to shine during Sense outings to his local boxing centre. Dieumerci’s had to win personal fights with anxiety to get here, his mum, Elizabeth, remembers.
My son is a generous and caring young man. He likes to take care of people, especially his niece, who he loves. He also likes to take care of himself, by keeping fit and healthy.
Sense gets just how important sports are to him; physical activities became a way to support Dieumerci to explore the wider world. His progress has made us all proud – it wasn’t so long ago that he was too anxious to leave my side.
Changes in childhood
Dieumerci was born in the Congo. When he was three years old, he had a very bad reaction to a routine vaccine. He had a seizure and went into a coma for three weeks. When he woke up, he was a different boy. There were cataracts in his eyes, he was confused about everything around him, and he stopped speaking. Dieumerci was mute until he was ten years old.
His sight is good now, but the effects on his brain were long-term. His learning difficulties meant that he fell behind his peers at school. Dieumerci would get very frustrated and anxious. He became very close to me; he’d be by my side always, even waiting outside the bathroom door. I was always patient with him, but I wanted him to have the confidence to do more.
Slowly trusting in others
When Dieumerci first started going to Sense, it was hard. He’d go out to the centre for a little while but would want to come back quickly. He’d keep making the sign for ‘home’.
Dieumerci was in his early twenties then. Sense understood that it was important for him to become more independent. He’d do slightly longer outings each week, slowly building up his trust in his support team and his confidence in being away from home and from me. Being around so many other people was a big deal for him, that was a big step.
We were all patient. I believe in my son, and so do Sense, so we didn’t give up.
He loves going out with his team now – with Ghazala or Chris. He goes in the car with them for days out a few times a week. They’re like friends to him, they know his sense of humour, his pride in sports and his appearance – he’s always asking them to take his picture, so confident!
Now he’s champion
Dieumerci has always loved sports. So that became a big focus with Sense. He’s been bowling, cycling and he goes to a dance session each week, but boxing is the one he really loves.
Sense first introduced boxing with online sessions. He could try it out but from a space he felt safe in. Over time, his confidence grew. He started to visit Saif’s Boxing in Rotherham once a week. There, Dieumerci’s free to train with the equipment and the trainers. He’s very strong and everyone is always impressed by him.
It’s been wonderful for Dieumerci to get these opportunities to get out into the town, and to have his achievements celebrated. In the last year, he has become so much more confident in himself.
It gives him more options in life. He can start to do things more independently, like travel or go shopping. His support workers are working to help him understand the value of money and to think about time more too.
The next step for Dieumerci is, hopefully, college. I hope for him to join an English language class or something. Now he has the confidence, I think he’ll soon be ready to try even more things and meet more people.
Inspired by Dieumerci’s story?
Sense offers a huge range of free events and activities to support people with complex disabilities. Come along to an activity session – you might discover something you love!