Former tennis star Boris Becker has said he relied on “blood brothers” to protect him in a UK prison and said his life had been threatened twice in his first interview since his release.
The 55-year-old German was deported to Germany after he was released last week after serving eight months of a two-and-a-half-year sentence for breaking bankruptcy rules by selling 2.5 million in assets and loans had stashed pounds to avoid paying off debt.
He was declared bankrupt in June 2017 after owing creditors £50million on an unpaid loan of over £3million at his estate on the Spanish island of Mallorca.
In an often emotional three-hour interview with German broadcaster Sat.1, the former world number one tennis player said the nights in Wandsworth prison, not far from his triple Wimbledon title, were “atrocious”.
He said he was fortunate to have formed close ties with a group of inmates he described as “blood brothers” as two inmates he dubbed “John” and “Ike” had threatened him on multiple occasions.
“John,” who is serving 25 years in prison for multiple murders, threatened to harm him if he didn’t give him the money.
“Ike” took it himself and Becker says ten prisoners “saved my life” by rescuing him as he screamed.
“And then the next day Ike asked if I would accept his apology. I could have rejected it. I encountered him in the laundry. He threw himself down to the ground and begged me for forgiveness. I raised him to his feet and hugged him. And I told him that I had great respect for him,” said Becker, reports RTE.
Becker said he will keep in touch with those who protect him.
“When you have fought for survival together, that brings you together,” he said. “We needed each other,” reports RTE.
Becker said the sound of the cell door closing would stay with him for the rest of his life.
He said, “When the cell door closes, then there is nothing left. The loneliest moment I’ve had in my life. The nights were atrocious. You could hear the screams from people trying to kill themselves or harm themselves, and people trading swear words. You don’t sleep,” reports RTE.
He described the prison as “extremely dirty and extremely dangerous . . . there were murderers, child abusers, drug dealers, every kind of criminal you can imagine,” reports RTE.
Klopp refused permission to visit
The six-time Grand Slam winner claims he asked the German ambassador to intervene to obtain an international phone card so he could contact his mother Elvira, 87, and other family members abroad.
Gradually his condition improved and he taught English and mathematics to a class of 30 inmates. He was then transferred to Huntercombe Sub-Security Prison near Oxford in southern England.
However, the governor refused to allow his friend and compatriot Jurgen Klopp to visit.
Becker qualified for deportation upon his release as he is not a British citizen and was sentenced to over 12 months in prison.
“The Best Beer”
Becker said a friend chartered a private plane to fly him to Stuttgart as soon as he knew he would be released and went to a couple near Heidelberg, not far from his hometown of Leimen.
Becker said the traumatic saga taught him lessons and that prison is the final step in his journey to becoming a “cleverer and humbler” man.
As for the future and where he lives, Becker said it’s unlikely it will be Germany.
“I can’t say where I’m going now. I don’t think it will be Germany. I don’t know if I’ll stay in Europe — perhaps Miami. I’m also a big fan of Dubai. I’ve become cautious with my statements about the future,” he said, reports RTE.
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