Skip to content
The death of boxer Jean-Claude Bouttier

Article reserved for subscribers

Jean-Claude Bouttier, Paris, October 1973. MICHEL CLEMENT / AFP

He was, at one time, the face of boxing in France; then his voice. Leading sportsman who later became a commentator, Jean-Claude Bouttier died at the age of 74, on Saturday August 3, as a result of an illness. The oldest still keep intact the memory of his two fights against the Argentine Carlos Monzon: two defeats of anthology that deprived him of a world belt, at the beginning of the years 1970.

Born in 1944 in Saint-Pierre-La-Cour, a village in Mayenne, the sportsman first began training at the age of 14 as a butcher's apprentice. Two years later, as an amateur, he won his first fight. It was in 1965 that he went professional, in Paris, under the direction of Jean Bretonnel, "the" French manager of the moment.

In 1971, Jean-Claude Bouttier is already a popular figure: a title of champion of France ("The most beautiful of my career"will he say to World, in hindsight) and another European champion give him an international notoriety. It is then time to tackle the "Rifle", the nickname of Carlos Monzon, the terror of the rings of the era.

The friend Alain Delon

On June 17, 1972, the two athletes face a first time in Colombes. Their duel for the world middleweight title has 30,000 spectators. "You had to see what it was like at the time. Everyone was scared of it, " told Bouttier, about his opponent. And add, with his outspokenness: "I have never felt that way. If you're scared, do not get on a ring. My tactical scheme was simple: get him in the mouth! AT"

At the sixth pick, Bouttier sends Monzon to the mat. Las! the Frenchman finally abandons the call of the thirteenth round, because of an internal haemorrhage: an inch of the Argentinean had reached him in the eye. "The gloves did not have any seams, which made it possible. Years later, in Argentina, Carlos told me that he had only found this parade to beat me. AT"

The revenge takes place a year later, this time in the Parisian enclosure of Roland-Garros. His friend Alain Delon organizes the event on September 29, 1973. The last three times are untenable, Monzon holds the shock and imposes itself again. "The Argentinian was too strong," will recognize Bouttier in his biography, Final fist (with Bruno Vigoureux, Solar, 2011). In an interview at WorldThe Frenchman will also compare his opponent to another big name in boxing, American Mike Tyson. Â € œIf a knife had stumbled during our meeting, it would have planted me. These guys do not react the same as us. Me, I received an education that forbade me to cross certain limits. They are in the street they have learned to survive. It's what makes all the difference! AT"