Boris Becker: Tennis great says inmate tried to kill him while in UK jail



CNN

Boris Becker says an inmate “tried to kill him” during the tennis great’s incarceration in a British jail during an interview that was broadcast on German broadcaster Sat 1 on Tuesday.

The Huntercombe prison inmate, whom Becker calls John, had been in prison for more than 16 years for killing two people when he was 18.

Becker claimed that John was unhappy with the German’s friendship with black inmates and on one occasion threatened to sexually assault him. John had verbally explained what physical harm he would do to her.

“I was shaking so badly,” Becker said, recalling the confrontation. “I yelled loudly and the inmates immediately came out and threatened him,” added the 55-year-old tennis player.

According to Becker, a group of about 10 prisoners, predominantly black, came to intervene and protect him when he yelled for help. The prisoners arrived and told John to leave immediately or they would beat him up.

“He was dangerous. He couldn’t understand why he was so connected to black prisoners,” Becker said.

“The prison world is a little different,” Becker added, describing how John later “asked for her forgiveness” and a chance to reconcile. “I hugged him and told him that he had great respect for him.”

Becker was found guilty in April on four counts relating to his 2017 bankruptcy case under the Insolvency Act and was sentenced to two and a half years by Judge Deborah Taylor at Southwark Crown Court in April.

At London’s Wandsworth Prison, where Becker spent the first weeks after his sentence, the 55-year-old said a fellow prisoner tried to blackmail him and “wanted my money”.

Once again, he says that his fellow prisoners had protected him from any physical harm.

The UK’s Prisons and Probation Service did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Becker also revealed that a number of prominent friends, including Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, wanted to visit him in prison.

“I am quite a friend of Jürgen Klopp,” said Becker, who was told by prison authorities that the Liverpool manager “cannot visit you because he is too well known. We fear for his safety and we don’t want the hype.”

Liverpool did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Becker gives his first interview after being released from prison and fights back tears.

The former world number 1 men’s tennis player is now in Germany after serving eight months in prison.

“In jail, you are nobody. You are just a number. Mine was A2923EV,” Becker he told Steven Gätjen of German broadcaster Sat 1, according to the Bild tabloid.

“And they don’t give a shit who you are,” added Becker, who was originally due to serve half his prison sentence.

“I think I have rediscovered the person I once was in myself,” Becker told Gätjen.

“I have learned a hard lesson, very expensive, very painful. But all this has taught me something important and good. And some things happen for a reason,” Becker added.

The time in prison made Becker “really reflect on his life,” Gätjen said. “You have to realize: Boris Becker has been in the spotlight since he was 17 years old.

“And then all of a sudden he’s locked up, he can’t get out, he only gets visitors twice a month, he’s forced to fit into a strict prison system. I definitely got the impression that this experience really took its toll on him.”

Becker spent his first weeks behind bars in Wandsworth. Becker told Gätjen that he was “very afraid of ending up in a collective cell”.

According to Gätjen, Becker was alone for the “first four days with no contact with the outside world and was locked in his cell 24 hours a day, with one release time per day.”

Becker was reportedly transferred to Huntercombe Prison in Oxfordshire from Wandsworth in May.

The German made tennis history when he won Wimbledon 17 years old in 1985 and won five more Grand Slam titles in the next 11 years.

He has remained active in the world of tennis since retiring from the sport, notably as Novak Djokovic’s coach and through frequent media appearances as a commentator and pundit.

In Becker’s court case in April, the six-time Grand Slam champion was accused of “gaming the system in bad faith” by concealing and transferring assets, and had deprived creditors of more than £2 million ($2, 51 million) in assets.

Becker previously denied all charges and said he had cooperated with the bankruptcy proceedings, according to Reuters.

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