History | Jul 22 2019

On This Day: Marcel Cerdan was born in 1916

Daniel Herbert pays tribute to the charismatic, yet doomed Frenchman Marcel Cerdan
Marcel Cerdan
Marcel Cerdan

MARCEL CERDAN lived a life that sounds like a movie: poor boy from a humble background who rose to become world champion, had an affair with famous singer and died tragically young in a plane crash.

In fact, his life HAS been made into a movie, several times. It’s also been woven into films about Edith Piaf, the French songstress he had the fling with while married and a father. Cerdan is the most famous French boxer ever, and his only rival as that nation’s best fighter is Georges Carpentier, who was also world champion but got to live to a ripe old age.

Marcel Cerdan
Cerdan is the most famous French boxer ever

Marcel’s end still seems heartbreaking. Having ripped the world middleweight title from Tony Zale in 1948, he lost it to Jake LaMotta in Detroit in June 1949, when a first-round spill to the canvas separated his left shoulder and meant he was hardly able to punch. Even then, he lasted into the 10th before his manager Jo Longman threw in the towel.


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