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  • A former French boxing champion is seen during clashes with French Gendarmes as part of a demonstration by the "yellow vests" on the passerelle Leopold-Sedar-Senghor bridge in Paris

    A former French boxing champion is seen during clashes with French Gendarmes as part of a demonstration by the "yellow vests" on the passerelle Leopold-Sedar-Senghor bridge in Paris | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 January 2019

The peaceful demonstration turned in violent clashes after police fired tear gas to prevent protesters from reaching parliament.

A former French boxing champion filmed landing punches on riot police away from the official ‘yellow vest’ protest in Paris last weekend in a video that quickly became viral on social media turned himself in on Monday, saying he was defending himself.

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Christophe Dettinger, who was twice national light-heavyweight champion, was seen on camera jumping over the railings of a pedestrian bridge blocked by baton-wielding police before swinging blows at the officers, forcing them to retreat.

Nicknamed the “Gypsy of Massy”, the 1.92m tall Dettinger was taking part in an-eighth Saturday of protests against economic and social inequality and President Emmanuel Macron’s neoliberal policies.

“I was gassed with my friend, my wife, and at some point I was taken over by anger, so yes I acted badly. I acted badly, but I defended myself,” Dettinger said in a video posted on Facebook before he handed himself into police who arrested him.

In another video, Dettinger, wearing a black hat, gloves and coat but no mask, can be seen kicking a policeman on the ground. One of the officers the former boxer attacked has been sent on 15 days’ sick-leave, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.

Macron has been heavily criticized over excessive use of violence and policing tactics, with many protestors, including students and teenagers, losing a hand or an eye because of the use of flashballs and tear gas.

Nevertheless, Macron still refuses to meet the yellow vests' main demands — a referendum on a wide range of national issues and the reinstoration of the tax on France's wealthiest citizens. Instead, he is preparing a series of measures implementing sanctions against unemployed people and cutting thousands of public sector jobs.


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