Alphonse Halimi (February 18, 1932 – November 12, 2006) was a French boxer. He was nicknamed "la Petite Terreur."
Time wrote of him: "Alphonse went to work with a street fighter's will. A grown-up guttersnipe from the back alleys of Algeria. He worked like a heavyweight, swung looping haymakers, careless of where they landed, confident that they hurt."
He was born in Constantine, the last of 13 children – only seven of whom reached adulthood. His father was a postal inspector. At the age of 10, he ran away from home for the first time, living for long periods of time on the streets of a nation torn by war. A tailor named Dianoux, of Algiers, took him under his wing and Halimi began to work as a tailor at the age of 12.
After he got involved in a fight on the streets of Algiers, Dianoux encouraged him to train at the Mouloudia gymnasium. Halimi was an excellent swimmer, but he chose boxing as his calling. He was Jewish, and sewed a star of David on his red and green (the Mouloudia colors) training shorts. Halimi's hero was the Algerian-born Marcel Cerdan, and he would carry a photo of his idol at the bottom of his suitcase from the beginning to the end of his career.
He won more than 100 matches before being noticed by a trainer and being asked to come to France. He became French amateur bantamweight champion in 1953, 1954, and 1955. In 1955, he was champion of the Mediterranean Games and turned professional. On April 1, 1957, at the Vélodrome d'hiver in Paris, Halimi became world bantamweight champion by defeating the Italian deaf-mute boxer Mario d'Agata.
Special lights had been set specially for this fight, so that d'Agata, who could not hear the bell after each round, would be able to tell when each round was finished. These lights would flash the moment the bell rang. There was a storm on the day of the fight, and lightning struck one of the special lights in round three. d'Agata was struck by sparkles, suffering a burned neck and back. It was decided the fight would go on, and d'Agata tried to defy the odds for the remainder of the fight, but he lost the title by a fifteen-round decision.
On the June 4, 1957 he had a fight against Jimmy Carson it was not a title fight but he lost to jimmy carson by way of TKO and this was also his first professional defeat.
On November 6, 1957, at Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, Halimi gained the unified title in the bantamweight category as well as $50,000. He defeated Raul Macias (Ratón) before a crowd of 20,000 spectators who for the most part had favored Macias. Macias lost his belt by a 15 round split decision with scores of 144–141 for Macias and 148–141, 147–138 for Halimi. The fight's decision was controversial as many thought Macias had done enough to win it.
During this period, Halimi was adulated in France and in his town of origin. His personal life during this period was characterized by dubious friendships, excessive betting, and marital separation.
He lost his crown in 1959 to Jose Becerra, at the Memorial Sports Arena (Los Angeles). He became European champion, however, in July 1959, a title that he reconquered on June 26, 1962 when he defeated Piero Rollo at Tel Aviv. It was the first professional boxing match organized in Israel.
Retirement and death
In the 1960s, he settled at Vincennes and owned a café on the Avenue du Château. He then worked as a trainer for the l'Institut National des Sports, the future INSEP. He then became a swimming teacher in Vichy and then at Meudon. He resided at a retirement home in Saint-Ouen towards the end of his life, and suffered from Alzheimer's. He died on November 12, 2006, from complications from pneumonia, and was interred at the Parisian cemetery of Pantin on November 14.
Not until 1989, with the victory of Rene Jacquot, would there be a French world champion of boxing.
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- "International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame". Jewishsports.net. Archived from the original on 26 December 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
- Alphonse Halimi 1932–2006
- (French) Alphonse Halimi at the French Wikipedia
- (French) Décès d'Alphonse Halimi
- (French) Halimi at Tunis (image)