Marcel Cerdan: The Most Famous French Boxer of All Time

Boxing is an incredibly thrilling sport that captivates millions of viewers worldwide when the greatest boxers face off in the ring. Surprisingly, boxing hasn’t gained the same level of popularity in France as it has in Britain and the United States. Nonetheless, according to jeuxdecasinoenligne.org, boxing ranks among the top sports-themed slot games at French casinos. In the 1930s, however, the sport’s popularity in France soared to unprecedented heights, driven by the achievements of the boxing legend, Marcel Cerdan. This article delves into the life of France’s most iconic boxer.

Early Life

Cerdan came from a modest background, as he was born in Sidi Bel Abbes, French Algeria, in July 1916. He was the fourth son of Antonio Cerdan, who was a laborer by profession, and his wife Asuncion Cascales. Cerdan had a happy childhood and when he completed his schooling in November 1934, Cerdan began boxing professionally. His debut fight came in Morocco, where he defeated Marcel Bucchianeri by decision after six rounds.

Dominant Record

After his successful debut, the French boxer continued his impressive run with an astonishing 47 consecutive victories. However, in January 1939, his streak came to an end when he was disqualified in the fifth round, resulting in his first professional loss against Harry Craster. Despite the setback, Cerdan shifted his focus to fighting for rights in the French territories of Morocco and Algeria, as well as in metropolitan France. He later made a triumphant return to the ring, defeating Omar Kouidri to claim the international welterweight title.

Bouncing Back From Defeat

Following his first defeat Cerdan bounced back and recorded five straight victories, which set up a European welterweight showdown against Saviello Turiello. After a stunning 15 rounds, the Frenchman finally landed the title. He would then enjoy another dominant winning streak, as he would remain unbeaten over 23 bouts before suffering a disqualification loss for the second time in his career in 1942. That loss was eventually avenged in 1945, with Cerdan securing a knockout win in the third round against his rival.

Cedar made a successful defence of the European welterweight title by defeating Jose Ferrer inside one round before he would successfully defend the title on four further occasions. Outside of boxing, he would also stand up for his beliefs, evident from the fact that he joined the American allies during World War II in 1944, and would win the Inter-Allied Championship.

Middleweight Division Fights

Cerdan then made the decision to step up to the middleweight division, and he quickly landed international title glory after defeating Assane Douf by knockout following three rounds. The Frenchman would later win the European title following a first-round knockout against Leon Fouquet. After a number of title defenses, he would lose the belt against Cyrille Delannoit, before regaining the title soon after by decision. The victory over his title rival then set up a first-ever showdown for the world championship. It would be the first time that Cerdan would fight in the United States, and he made a dominant statement by knocking out Tony Zale in the 12th round in New Jersey.

Later Fame and Death

Cerdan’s popularity in France would reach new heights after winning the world title. He would also make headlines in his homeland after having an affair with French musician Edith Piaf. Their affair would last from the summer of 1948 until his death in 1949. Cerdan would make his first defence of the world title in the United States, but he suffered a dislocated shoulder in the first round and was eventually forced to throw in the towel in the tenth. That fight would be the final time that he would step into the ring, despite a rematch being agreed between the fighters.

However, before beginning his training camp, Cerdan returned to France to reunite with Piaf. But, the Air France flight that the boxer was traveling on crashed into Monte Redondo, killing all eleven crew members and 37 passengers on board, including Cerdan.

Final Thoughts

Cerdan is hailed as one of France’s most famous boxers, boasting an impressive record of 110 wins and only four losses in his professional career. His life story was immortalized in the 1983 French film “Edith et Marcel” and the 2007 musical film “La Mome.” Today, his legacy lives on in France, with the sports arena in Levallois-Perret proudly bearing his name.


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years