x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Back in the office, the gloves come off

You may have thought top-level banking is enough of a daily battle but meet one associate who outside of working hours takes to the ring.

Guillaume Piatek, banker and amateur boxer training for his next bout. Duncan Chard for the National
Guillaume Piatek, banker and amateur boxer training for his next bout. Duncan Chard for the National

Guillaume Piatek, an associate at the French bank Natixis in Dubai, had never boxed competitively before moving to Dubai two years ago and now he is a proud member of the EmiratesFight Club.

Why did you start boxing after you arrived in Dubai?

I've always been curious about boxing. When I first arrived here it felt so different to anything I knew. Coming from a European country, Dubai is so different that you need to commit to something and discover new things. Plus nowadays we live in a safe society, you never get into situations where you will be punched in the face. But part of the human experience is fighting so I had to follow my curiosity.

So you wanted to be punched in the face?

It's about danger. Inside the ring, boxing with someone who is trained to knock you out is scary. It sounds totally insane but putting yourself in danger for no apparent reason is very human.

Would you say you're a thrill seeker?

Yes, I'm happy with my life but you need this extra spice. It's also been a journey of self-discovery. As in boxing, most of the decisions you have to make in life are taken on your own. You don't have a trainer there to help you.

Does it help your performance in your job?

Mental deftness is improved and you learn how to relax in very stressful situations. When you've had to deal with someone trying to hurt you very badly, the stress of work doesn't compare. You become really tough mentally and gain a lot of self-confidence. Sometimes you might feel angry but it doesn't matter because you understand it is only a job.

Isn't the training regime pretty intense? Does that ever encroach on your day job?

It's a strong commitment, I have to have a healthy lifestyle - if you don't sleep enough, eat well or party all the time, it is too difficult to train. You have to live like a monk for a couple of months of the year. But I only do hard-core training before a big fight. There is a balance: work is crucial but I also give myself time to train. Plus if you didn't do anything else besides work you would go crazy.

In a few weeks you'll be competing in your third official fight. What do your colleagues and friends think about your hobby?

Most people on the outside see boxing as animals in a ring, but you have two sides to all of these competitors. They are very quiet guys but when you step into a ring it's a different story.

So your co-workers do not need to worry about crossing you?

I've never got into a fight outside the ring. I never get angry.

* Farah Halime