Benoit Paire who decided to team up with Brahim Asloum, the ex-boxing olympic champion by appointing him as his physio is a good opportunity look back on five stories which have already linked the two sports.

Still suspended by the french tennis federation over his behavior during the last Rio Olympics, Benoit Paire has decided to team up with Brahim Asloum, the ex-boxing olympic champion, by appointing him as his physio. Madness ? Not really, when we know that Paul-Henri Mathieu said that « the closest sport to tennis is boxing. » Proof here, with five stories which have already linked both sports. And helped to tie Marcel Cerdan and Edith Piaf’s love story…


1/ Mike Tyson, his daughter and Wimbledon 2030

« My 7 year-old daughter is much better than me at tennis. » For once, Mike Tyson sounds pretty modest. Or almost. « Although I’m not as bad my wife. » Since his retirement, the ex-boxing champion spends his day in Orlando, Florida, hitting balls with Milan, his youngest daughter. And he’s been praising her backhand return as soon as he could, even predicting her a bright future : « If she carries on like this, she’ll win Wimbledon in 2030. » So necessarily, the ex-boxer has been practicing in front of his TV set. Seriously. During the last Rio Olympics, Tyson confessed in Sports Illustrated : «  I prefer watching tennis than boxing on TV. » How terrible is retirement ?


2/ « The idea of hitting someone scares me »

For Roger Federer, it was Michael Jordan. Andy Murray’s idol is named Mohamed Ali. In 2015, the Scot revealed on the site, that when he was a child, all the posters on the walls of his room or almost were showing the triple heavyweight world champion. « I’m a huge boxing fan, he said. But beyond the sport, I love Ali for what he represented on and outside the ring. He transcended this sport and remained faithful to his ideals. » On a day-to-day basis, the British even finds a few similarities between the two sports : the importance of legwork, the notion of dueling, of changing your attacking plan depending on your opponent, the staff, the physios…But despite all of this, the world number 2 regrets having never boxed, except on a punching ball. « The idea of hitting someone like the idea of getting hit scares me, he confessed. But there are a few people I’d like to hit, like my physio ! » We’re sure that the feeling must be mutual.


3/ « Some people even call me Ali »

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is also a Mohamed Ali fan. Easy : he’s his official lookalike. « I’m often compared to him. Some people even call me Ali, said the Frenchman in 2012. This big man has been following me since I arrive on the circuit. » For a bit longer, in truth. In 1974, his father Didier was in Kinshasa during the mythical fight between Mohamed Ali and George Foreman. Originally from Congo, his father was playing for a team called the Brazzaville Black devils, before moving to Le Mans, in France, where his son was born. And where Ali, however, has never fought.


 4/ Marcel Cerdan, love and Roland-Garros

July, 7th, 1946. For the first time in its history, a boxing match is organized on Roland-Garros’ central court. The opposition ? The local legend Marcel Cerdan against the American Holman Williams. The idea ? A challenge offered to Cerdan by American impresarios. The stakes ? If the Frenchman wins, he’ll get to try his luck in American - the consecration for any boxer. The result ? Despite a fracture on his right hand, Cerdan defeated Williams in ten rounds. The most important thing in this story ? It’s during the night following this victory that Marcel Cerdan met Edith Piaf, at the Club des Cinq to be precise, where the singer was doing a performance while the sportsman was celebrating his victory. With the following love story which we all know. And Marion Cotillard, who we’d rather forget.


5/ Maria Sharapova, Instagram and the skipping rope

Since she has suspended for two years, for doping, last march, Maria Sharapova has got a bit of time on her hands. And frustration to release. In order to do so, the ex-world number 1 has been hitting a punching ball every morning. She also uses a skipping rope and still screams very loud when she gives a punch. Everything, of course, being immortalized on her Instagram account. « Living memories of boxing training sessions when I was a kid again », she recently posted as an introduction to one of her practice sessions. With the tune Eye of the tiger in the background. Obviously.


By Victor Le Grand