Sports"French boxing loses its most beautiful ambassador", regrets Brahim...

“French boxing loses its most beautiful ambassador”, regrets Brahim Asloum

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There are still a few months, it is an appointment that he would not have missed for the world. Think about it, Jean-Paul Belmondo loved boxing as much as tennis, so a fight by Tony Yoka on the Philippe Chatrier court, where he has had his lodge for several decades, it promised a hell of a night. But “Bébel” will not see Yoka’s next fight, Friday, he who took pleasure in sowing discord among his biographers as to his number of official fights in the 1960s. Twelve? New? For how many losses? We’ll never know. So we have to be content with the legend told sometimes by Belmondo himself, sometimes by the lifelong friend Charles Gérard, met in the basements of the Avia Club, after falling in love with Cerdan.

“When he was crowned world champion in the United States in 1948, we were all gathered as a family in front of the radio, he recalled recently in a rich interview with“ L’Equipe ”. We were in front of the radio station with my mother, my father, my brother, and when Cerdan won, we heard the whole building, all the neighbors, shouting at the same time, even those who did not know boxing . Cerdan was a God! Like everyone else, I dreamed of being Cerdan ”.

Olympic godfather of Brahim Asloum

Belmondo, who will play the coach of the French Olympic team in the film The Ace of Aces, in 1982, will never succeed, he who had a good little left hook but who hated taking hits, “which is a little embarrassing for boxing”. He will still live his passion by proxy, still present in the family album of French boxing. We call Brahim Asloum a little by chance, who tells us a beautiful one: “Jean-Paul was my godfather at the Sydney Olympics. The Federation had asked for him, he had said yes, obviously ”. Then a short silence: “I am more than sad, the cinema has lost a huge actor but boxing has just taken a hell of a uppercut. Belmondo was the most beautiful ambassador of French boxing ”.

Brahim Asloum and Jean-Paul Belmondo in 2002. – ATTIAS LAURENT / SIPA

You have to see the number of galas attended by the star, still able to go to the Golden Gloves ceremony in Brussels at the end of 2019 to cut the fat with the next generation of Belgian boxing. “He never turned down a solicitation when I asked him. He was a true connoisseur, an enthusiast, who attached as much importance to the smallest fight of the evening as to the most important. He stayed from the first to the last minute, because he had it in his veins ”. He was one of the few celebrities, too, to work on his tan in the first round of Roland Garros, because you wouldn’t think of stepping into a movie theater halfway through the film.

“He brought us this glamorous side”

Even his 2001 stroke, which will have greatly reduced him, will never prevent “Bébel” from honoring an invitation to an evening of jamming, as forever linked to the sport which allowed him to display this physical form. insolent in the films that made her famous. “If I don’t get overtaken, it’s because I’ve always had a taste for risk and a taste for sport. I was boxing and I was taking risks too, he explains when asked why he insists on doing his stunts himself. Boxing has given me that surly side in life, which means not letting yourself be taken down when things go wrong. Anger, at least in a ring, it is the will to win that gives you this kind of aggressiveness, and in life also it is to hang on when things go badly ”.

Jean-Paul Belmondo, during a professional match in the 60s in Paris.
Jean-Paul Belmondo, during a professional match in the 60s in Paris. – AFP

Never stingy with a phone call or advice, Jean-Paul Belmondo had often “warned” Brahim Asloum about the dangers of believing himself arrived after his gold medal in 2000, religiously attending all his professional fights. afterwards: “I remember seeing him every time. I always moved to greet him, it was obligatory, it is Jean-Paul what. He would update himself on what was going on, he would ask for news from everyone. He knew that boxing had changed era, that it was no longer the sport of Cerdan or Ali, but he liked to be around all the champions. He brought us that glamor side, we only talked about boxing because he was in the gym sometimes. I feel like I have lost a member of my family ”.

Death of Jean-Paul Belmondo: Discover the favorite Bébels of “20 Minutes”

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