ONCE the toast of the great and the good on Centre Court, Boris Becker has revealed how his life was threatened by fellow lags as he served time in two British jails.
The three times Wimbledon champion said that a prisoner in Wandsworth Prison called John had said that “if I didn’t do this or that he would kill me. He had tried it with others.”
Weeping in an emotion-wracked first interview after being released, he added that after being transferred to Huntercombe prison there was a second “prisoner who wanted to kill me”.
The former multimillionaire, 55, admits he “went crazy” while serving eight harrowing months as he feared for his life.
Becker – stripped and searched after being jailed in April – added: “I had two big worries, a shared cell – I was f***ing scared – and also showering.
“The films didn’t help me when you see the soap falling on the ground.”
However, he said each prisoner had their own shower cubicle, adding: “You didn’t see anyone naked.”
In an exclusive interview with German TV channel Sat 1 last night, Becker added of prison life: “It’s extremely full, extremely dirty, extremely dangerous, murderers, sex offers, drug deals, you meet all types.
“You go out of your cell and you have to look after your own skin because the guards don’t do it for you.”
But he says he found camaraderie with fellow prisoners and will keep in touch with the friends he made inside.
“Prison is a different world,” he added. “You are all the same. It sounds strange, you are so dependent on each other.
“I will keep contact with some of the prisoners. We needed each other. We really supported each other.”
A priest arranged for him to call his mother Elvira, 87, at home in Germany.
He revealed: “First I told her that I was alive and that I was doing well. She wanted to hear my voice. I said there was no danger, I lied of course.”
He celebrated his 55th Birthday in prison, saying “it was difficult”. He was given three chocolate cakes and shared them with other prisoners.
The star admits letters from fans and former colleagues from the world of tennis kept his morale up.
“I got so many letters from fans, from friends,” he said. “I read every single letter. I collected them all and I will answer each one of them over Christmas.
“These letters helped me very much to keep my morale and my lust for life.”
But he says a visit by his friend Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was turned down by prison authorities.
He said: “I am quite good friends with Jürgen Klopp and he wanted to come and visit me. I gave the names to the government, then came the answer that Jürgen cannot visit you as he is too famous.”
The sportsman called ‘Britain’s favourite German’ was released from Category C Huntercombe prison near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, last week and flown to his homeland by private jet.
The bankrupt – initially held in tough Category B Wandsworth Prison – had served eight months of a two and a half years sentence for concealing assets from his creditors.
The Wimbledon prodigy gloried in being the world’s No1. Now a humbled and weeping Becker admitted that behind bars “nobody gives a f*** who you are” as he was allocated the more humdrum number A2923EV.
The fallen star admitted: “In prison, you are a nobody.
“You are only a number. Mine was A2923EV. I wasn’t called Boris, I was a number. And nobody gives a f*** who you are.”
Looking gaunt after losing weight and with a copper blond rinse in his hair, Becker added: “I went to bed hungry for the first time in my life.
“I was scared at the food distribution. What did the prisoner do in front of or behind me? For weeks I did not eat very much until I organised myself better.
“There was no alcohol, there was moonshine but it was much too strong and dangerous. I also didn’t smoke but in prison you smoke vapes. Prison certainly helped my health”.
Becker says tried to dress in black to “look cool and dangerous” to protect himself and appear inconspicuous.
“What you don’t want in prison is standing out,” he says.
However, prison authorities told him “nice try” and he was given standard-issue clothes until he received a packed bag from his girlfriend Lilian three weeks later.
Becker said he had used his 231 days behind bars in Britain to reflect on his life.
The apparently contrite Becker was in contrast to the puffy-faced and defiant figure who refused to recognise his guilt in a London court In April.
“I think I rediscovered the person I used to be.
“I’ve learned a hard lesson. A very expensive one. A very painful one.
“But the whole thing taught me something important and good. And some things happen for a good reason.”
Speaking of the morning he was deported, Becker revealed: “I sat on the edge of my bed from six in the morning and hoped that the cell door would open.
“They came at half past seven, unlocked themselves and asked: ‘Are you ready?’ I said, ‘Let’s go!’ I had already packed everything.”
Before he left Huntercombe he gave away his clothes to fellow lags including a pair of size ten Puma trainers, a grey bathrobe, sweatpants and slippers.
The controversial interview – which reportedly comes with a hefty £450,000 fee – is Becker’s first attempt at salvaging a reputation left in tatters by his conviction.
Before being sent to prison he admits he would stand in front of a mirror telling himself he should start saying goodbye to friends and family.
He recalled talking to his girlfriend Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro about a possible jail term: “She said, ‘Boris we are a team, you are my partner.
“But I said, ‘I don’t know if will be three years, five or longer’. She said, ‘We can do it’.”
TV viewers then watched as Becker broke down in tears at the memory.
A devout Catholic and former altar boy, Becker acquitted a taste for the highlife after becoming Wimbledon champion aged just 17.
Earning an estimated £38 million on and off the court, he enjoyed Cuban cigars, fine wines and rare malt whisky.
But his tangled private life and poor business acumen contributed to a spectacular fall from grace.
According to German newspaper Bild, Becker was popular and respected in prison.
He helped fellow lags from overseas learn English and taught sports and motivational training.
Known as Boom Boom Becker, tennis’s former golden boy had shot to fame in 1985 as the youngest player to win the Wimbledon men’s championship at 17 years and 227 days.
Crowds adored him as he won six grand slam tournaments before becoming a favourite in the Wimbledon commentary box.
But his personal and financial woes began to mount.
In 1999 – with his marriage to pregnant first wife actress Barbara Feltus floundering – he had a boozy night out at London’s Nobu restaurant that ended in his daughter Anna being conceived.
Becker denies the famous sexual liaison Russian model Angela Ermakova took place in a broom cupboard at the Mayfair restaurant as reported but rather on the stairs.
The one-night stand ended his first marriage – which produced children Noah and Elias – and led to an £11million divorce settlement.
In 2009 he married Dutch beauty Lilly Kerssenberg and the couple had a son Amadeus. But that marriage fell apart too.
His financial world was equally rocky. In 2002 he received a two-year suspended sentence for tax evasion and attempted tax evasion worth £1.4million.
Flamboyant Becker owed almost £50 million when he was declared bankrupt in 2017.
In April this year Becker – accompanied by girlfriend Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro – strode into Southwark Crown court in his All England Club tie to be sentenced on concealing assets.
An emotional Becker said: “If the judge says I am guilty, then I will be carted off straight away, …something more brutal is not possible.”
He was found to have a hidden property in Germany, a flat in Chelsea and two of his Wimbledon trophies.
Judge Deborah Taylor told him:”It is notable you have not shown remorse or acceptance of your guilt. There has been no humility.”
In last night’s TV interview Becker admitted: “Of course I was guilty.”
He added: “Maybe I didn’t show enough regret, perhaps I should have showed more emotion.
“I did my best, I was advised to say what I did but with hindsight you are always clever, it could have gone better but also a lot worse. The judge did nothing wrong.”
Says he used to stand in front of the Mirror tell himself that it was 50 / 50 whether he had to go to Prison, so he should start saying goodbye to people
An Apple TV+ documentary crew was on hand shortly before sentencing to record Becker’s emotions.
Last week Apple released a trailer for a two-part documentary showing a tearful Becker saying: “I’ve hit my [rock] bottom, I don’t know what to make of it.
“I face it, I’m not going to hide or run away. I accept whatever sentence I’m going to get. It’s Wednesday afternoon and [on] Friday I know the rest of my life.”
His voice breaking with emotion, Becker added: “You go crazy in the cell. You go up the wall. It’s very difficult for your psyche.“
Becker says his eight-month stretch has changed him for good, saying: “It was the worst time in my life, it sounds strange but maybe I needed it.
“I have enlightened myself. I have seen my mistakes. I had the wrong friends, wasn’t organised enough, and wasn’t a fan of details.
“And I think this stay in prison pulled me back. You’re not the same person.
“I was kind of like a father figure in prison. Some of the prisoners were only 25 or 27.
“They told me things I can’t say on TV, things that could have not been more personal.
“They listened to me. But not the tennis player Boris Becker but the prisoner Boris Becker.”
Becker – who has also signed a book deal – is reported to be channeling the cash from his TV interviews into a UK company called BFB Enterprises – short for Boris Franz Becker – set up girlfriend Lilian.
Becker’s still liked and respected by his tennis peers. John McEnroe said at Wimbledon this year: “Boris, we love you. We miss you, man.”
Only time will tell whether this soul-baring interview will convince lucrative advertising brands and the public of Becker’s remorse.
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