The legend of tennis Boris Becker spoke of his fear of being murdered during the eight months he spent in prison in the UK, but insisted that the overall experience, including small portions of food and no alcohol or cigarettes, was good for his health.
The former Wimbledon champion appeared considerably thinner and healthier than the last time he appeared in public in April, before being sentenced to two and a half years in prison for concealing £2.5million assets. It was speak for the first time since his release from prison and his deportation to Germany, via a friend’s private jet, almost a week ago.
Becker told broadcaster Sat 1 in a moving interview shown in Germany Tuesday night that he was a “wiser and more humble” man than the one who went to prison.
He said he had lost 7kg of body weight largely due to what he described as insufficient food portions, saying: “I felt hungry for the first time in my life. life.” He added that not drinking alcohol also helped.
The German native said he was surprised within 10 days of arriving to be appointed to teach maths and English to other inmates – “even though I wondered how come that I teach English to English people? But he admitted his English was too poor to understand much of the “abyssal” swearing and swearing prisoners hurled at each other, particularly at night.
He had taken stoicism classes and ended up teaching philosophy to other prisoners, and also helped teach physical fitness classes, acting “like a father figure of sorts.”
Becker recalled how three men, Jake, Russell and Billy, appointed to Huntercombe Prison, near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, as so-called ‘listeners’ to help new inmates meet the daily challenges of prison life had taken him under their wing. . He said: “I will never forget them. They saved my life.
They had come after an altercation with a fellow inmate, a convicted murderer, who Becker said had threatened to kill him. Becker broke down as he described how the man later came to apologize. “He threw himself on the ground and hugged my legs. I took him in my arms, I kissed him and I told him that I had a lot of respect for him.
He described experiencing a “sense of camaraderie like never before. You put everything in one hat, sharing clothes, sugar, salt. At his 55th birthday on November 22, he received three chocolate cakes, which he shared with other inmates.
Becker told interviewer Steven Gätjen that the dozens of letters he received each day from friends and fans helped keep his spirits up and insisted he respond to each one of them to Christmas. He broke down again when he described his gratitude for receiving a three-page letter from rival and compatriot Michael Stich, who beat him in straight sets in the 1991 Wimbledon final.
Visitation was more problematic, he said. When Liverpool football club manager Jürgen Klopp, whom he describes as a good friend, tried to visit him, the request was rejected by the governor of Huntercombe, where he had been transferred in May, for fear for Klopp. safety, according to Becker.
A request from his former manager and agent Ion Tiriac has been rejected three times for similar reasons, he said. Becker learned that anyone associated with a lot of money was considered at risk of kidnapping. “They googled someone like Tiriac and saw how rich he was and they immediately assumed he would be in danger,” he said.
Sat 1 described Wandsworth prison in London, where Becker spent the first weeks of his sentence, as a “particularly bad place to be incarcerated”, even by British prison standards, with a “reputation for violence, overcrowding and dirt as well as a chronic vermin problem”.
In a report accompanying the interview, Sat 1 said the decision to let Becker out after eight months was “due to the fact that there are no places in British prisons”. He added: “They are happy to get rid of all the foreign prisoners they can by deporting them.”
Becker described how his heart sank when he was sentenced in april by Judge Taylor of Southwark Crown Court, who accused him of showing no remorse. He said he spent every day in the three weeks between a jury finding him guilty of four counts under insolvency law and his sentencing, visiting a church near his home in Knightsbridge where he prayed for a short prison term.
He only mentioned twice his status as a tennis icon and the effect it may have had on his experience. The jurors who found him guilty, he said, were too young to remember his three Wimbledon wins. If they had known, it might have influenced their decision, he thought. When he entered prison, he described “being scared and sitting in a corner, not daring to look anyone in the eye. But then I realized that some of them had recognized me: “It’s Boris Becker! And then I thought: OK, this might actually help me.
Addressing his financial problems and the crime of hiding his assets, Becker said he hadn’t paid enough attention to money matters since he started earning from his tennis as a teenager in the 1960s. 1980. “I was never in it for the money,” he said. “Sometimes I even forgot to collect my prize money.” Once his sporting career was over, he had made the mistake of “wanting to live as before. But you don’t earn as much as you did. Then there are taxes, divorces, childcare…before I knew it, I was earning too little to cover my expenses.
He said he would not have survived without the support of his four children or his girlfriend, Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro. She stayed away throughout the interview.