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 tennis.com, 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.