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Lion of the desert

A minor sports personality, missing a testicle, sets out to conquer the Sahara

By Henry Shukman   March 2004

As soon as Betts stepped out of the Land Rover the red-faced Frenchman reached across from the driver’s seat and attempted to slam shut the passenger door. Seated at the wheel and having to lean over, all he managed to achieve was a light clunk. “Let’s see how you manage now!” he roared.

The Frenchman had consumed a steak and a carafe of vin rouge for breakfast at the hotel in Tessalit. John Betts stood watching him now through the open window – his glaring face, his grey moustache, his khaki shirt. He was all dressed up like a soldier…

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