The champion is undefeated in the professional circuit, but his greatest triumph was at home.
- Lightweight pro-boxer Youssef Dib has a 20 – 0 undefeated record in the ring
- When Youssef’s son Jibreel was only eight months old he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy — a disorder that affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture
- On Dr Daniel Golshevsky’s podcast, Dr Golly and the Experts, the doctor spoke to Youssef about how he came to terms with his son’s diagnosis
Dr Daniel Golshevsky’s podcast, Dr Golly and the Experts, came in swinging for its second season, as the doctor spoke to Sydney-based pro-boxer Youssef Dib.
With a height and reach of 175 centimetres, Mr Dib is undefeated in the professional boxing scene, taking on Kye ‘Mr Frenzy’ MacKenzie in March and recently trouncing Miles Zalewski in Moore Park, NSW.
However, when Youssef’s son Jibreel was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of eight months, the pugilist found himself in an internal fight to recognise and respect his son’s battle after being told that he would not live a long life.
When Youssef’s wife gave birth to Jibreel, the prognosis led to a harrowing journey that every father or soon-to-be parent would fear.
“It was difficult knowing that there was a possibility that he was going to come out and be able to lead a normal life, but you’ve always got that hope that everything’s going to be okay,” Youssef explained.
“Jibreel obviously went through a lot of issues — he had [necrotising enterocolitis] which led to part of his bowel dying […] you know, those challenges and them leading up to his kidney failure.
“At one point, [hospital staff were] coming up to us and saying to us ‘look, Jibreel is obviously very sick and we forecast that he has four and a half hours to live — do you want us to continue on with the life support?’
“The first time that they did give us that option, I sat in that room with my wife and the doctor who — again, you can only be so compassionate and so sensitive to a situation — wasn’t very sensitive in the way that it came out of her mouth and what happened in the lead-up to it.”
As one in a long family lineage of professional boxers, Youssef often had people approach him after Jibreel’s birth and tap him on the shoulder to dissuade him from what medical experts predicted. According to Youssef, many people in his community would tell him that his son would ‘be okay,’ even after an official diagnosis of cerebral palsy.
“I think it is them trying to give us hope or maybe it is just an easier way to soften the conversation around it, you know, it’s not the sort of thing a lot of people have a lot of understanding about,” Mr Dib said.
“I think it was very frustrating for [my wife] Nicole, but for myself, I sort of soaked it in a little bit, to be honest with you, because I went through a lot of denial when it came to Jibreel’s diagnosis.
“I’m not proud to say it, but I sort of felt like […] at that time, Nicole had accepted ‘okay, our son has cerebral palsy’ and that I was still in denial — I sort of let her deal with everything at that time, like, any time that she wanted to talk to me about it.”
Youssef said that seeing people in his own life who live with disability helped him to realise the potential of his son and work to be a stronger force in his life.
“I grew up with a cousin who has cerebral palsy who had been in his wheelchair his whole life […] and he’s a champion guy and he’s got four children. So, what was it about my son having cerebral palsy that I couldn’t accept?”
Importantly, Mr Dib added that having someone to speak to in his own life and figure out his emotional pathway to parenthood was a pivotal factor in getting through the tough journey.
To listen to the podcast in full, please visit the LiSTNR website. If you or someone you know is in need of mental health support, please reach out to the following resources:
Beyond Blue — 1300 22 4636
Mental Health Emergency — 13 14 65
Lifeline — 13 11 14
What was your journey like as a parent of a child with disability? Let the team at Talking Disability know and subscribe to stay updated on news in the sector.