Can those boys still be considered skinheads?

Lucie HrdlickováPragueSeptember 2000
Standa Tiser is a boxing coach. A former national champion, he has been coaching young boys, mostly Roma, for a few years now. He’s a Rom too and knows how difficult it is for Romany youngsters from Zizkov to get motivated to do any sports properly – let alone boxing – , and to turn up regularly for training. Their mentality pushes them into giving everything up after a short while if they cannot succeed quickly enough.
And why exactly has Standa Tiser chosen to coach young Roma? He says that he resented the way those boys were just hanging around without anything to do whenever he saw them. That’s why he offered to coach them in the first place.
He knew that they would jump at his offer, because he was very popular among all the Roma in Liben and Zizkov. All the boys respect and adore him. They look up to him as a former professional boxer who has made it in the world.
When Tiser founded his boxing team he started with Roma and some time later the first whites joined in. "It took a while before any white guys came,” he says.
Today he coaches skinheads, Roma, and Ukrainians alike. He also has a Nigerian and a mentally handicapped boy on his team.
The first skinheads joined as early as two years ago. Smiling, Tiser recalls his first meeting with them: “They rang the bell and I opened the door. When they saw me they were flabbergasted and couldn’t say a word… I told them to come in, took them up to the bar counter, and asked whether they had come for boxing lessons or needed anything else.
They said they were interested in classical boxing.
I took another look: they were wearing military boots and leather jackets, and kept giving me weird glances.
I asked them: ‘You wouldn’t be skinheads, would you?’
They went red in the face and stared at the ground.
I went on: ‘Look, I don’t care who you are. If you’re keen on sports, that’s fine with me. But you should know that there are various boys here: my kind, your kind, other nationalities. If you don’t like that, tough luck. You can see for yourself. And if you’ve brought your stuff, try a bit of boxing right now. After the training tell me whether you want to come regularly.’
At the end of the lesson they said they’d come again. They’ve been coming ever since.”
Tiser says that skinheads are usually just stupid youngsters, mostly only children. “They need friends – and what’s easier than shaving your head, buying a leather jacket and joining the gang! You certainly get plenty of friends in no time that way.”
The skinheads who go to Tiser´s have found many friends among Roma and other dark-skinned boys on the team.
This makes me wonder where all their old aggressiveness and hatred has gone.
Was there any hatred to begin with?
Can those boys still be considered skinheads?
Do they still think of themselves as skinheads?
A response by Jana 15 May 2001
It is a very important topic of our time – not only in our country but also elsewhere in the world.
Young people have nothing to do in their free time. So they wander the streets with cigarettes in hand. This is one group of young people.
Then there is a second group who have a certain idea but can’t bring it into existence.
Sport is a bridge that can vault over prejudice: this is well known. I am very happy that there are people who are willing to work with youngsters and that they do it with enthusiasm. It is praiseworthy that such a place exists in Zizkov [a neighborhood in Prague] where the problem is more than urgent. I live there; I know what I am talking about.
If somebody thinks of himself as a skinhead, let him think that. But it doesn’t give him any power to restrict somebody else’s freedom. The opinions of such groups are based on prejudice. I know that it doesn’t matter if you are black or white: what is inside matters. No matter what the skin color.
You can understand what I am saying only if you have experience and contact with the “other.” Sport is one of the methods.
I am very happy that at least a few people do understand, and I hope that this understanding will spread.__________________________A response by Dominika18 May 2001
This story is very interesting. It’s good that the club is attended by Roma as well as other people. That’s the way it should be.
Everybody should be friends and there should be no hatered.

No Responses to “Can those boys still be considered skinheads?”

  1. Very heartwarming story. I like how it shows that boys are just boys (be they Roma or Skinheads) and have a need to belong. I’m glad that there are people here in Prague like Standa Tiser, who give boys positive examples of groups to belong to and constructive outlets for their energy and anger. Thank you, Lucie, for publishing this story. If you read this response, please write to my email address. This story should be published more widely and I could do it.

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