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‘Champion of Auschwitz’: New book tells story of boxer who brought hope

10 10 24

WARSAW, Poland (AFP) — Polish boxer Tadeusz Pietrzykowski was known for his ability to dodge blows. Still, the odds were against him when he fought his first bout at the Nazi German death camp Auschwitz.

Severely emaciated, Prisoner Number 77 was up against a much heavier German inmate — a “kapo” who oversaw other prisoners.

“From around me I got warnings and gestures that I was crazy: ‘He’ll kill you, destroy you,'” he said in his official account for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum after the war.

“But there was no time to think… There was bread to be won. I was hungry, my friends were hungry,” said Pietrzykowski, the pre-war Champion of Warsaw in the bantamweight class.

His courage paid off.

With a successful left jab to the face, the 23-year-old Pietrzykowski drew blood from the kapo, Walter Duening.

The loser chose not to seek revenge for his loss and instead rewarded the boxer nicknamed Teddy with a loaf and some meat.

Pietrzykowski went on to fight dozens of matches at Auschwitz, winning all but one or two, thereby scoring special privileges that ensured his and others’ survival.

Little known even in Poland, Teddy’s story has inspired a movie, “The Champion of Auschwitz,” which recently had its premiere at home and will hit theatres abroad later this year.

– Sports at Auschwitz –
“It’s an incredible story since very few people know there was boxing at Auschwitz, that there were sporting events,” said Piotr Witkowski, the actor who plays Duening in the film.

Witkowski told AFP that........

© The Times of Israel

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