Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

In a departure from traditional political imagery, French President Emmanuel Macron has embraced the physicality of boxing, joining the ranks of world leaders seeking to convey strength through martial sports. Macron, 46, was captured on Wednesday vigorously pounding a punching bag, showcasing his muscular forearms in images shared on the Instagram account of his official photographer, Soazig de la Moissoniere.

Political communication expert Philippe Moreau-Chevrolet noted Macron’s adoption of a populist style in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin, suggesting that the boxing photoshoot served as a symbolic challenge on Putin’s turf. Notably, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) refrained from republishing the images, citing a policy against utilizing handouts from the French presidency.

The photos come amidst heightened attention on Macron’s remarks regarding the potential deployment of NATO troops to Ukraine, a response to Putin’s 2014 invasion. Putin, known for projecting physical prowess through activities like judo and boxing, has utilized such displays to bolster his image. Macron’s foray into boxing represents a departure from the more traditional sporting pursuits of past French leaders like Nicolas Sarkozy and Valery Giscard d’Estaing.

Moreau-Chevrolet underscored the theatricality of Macron’s boxing venture, suggesting that it aligns with the narrative of a heroic figure triumphing over adversity, a theme often associated with the French president’s public persona. Macron’s embrace of boxing reflects a strategic choice to align himself with a sport perceived as compatible with the exercise of state power.

While Macron is not the first Western leader to don boxing gloves, the sport has garnered notable interest among French politicians, with figures like former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe citing its value in overcoming fear. Additionally, female politicians like Valerie Pecresse and Rachida Dati have engaged in boxing, viewing it as a means to project strength and resilience.

However, Macron’s boxing photoshoot has drawn criticism from some quarters, with Green Party MP Sandrine Rousseau condemning what she perceives as the amplification of masculinist stereotypes in politics. Nevertheless, the surge in popularity of boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) among the French public underscores the enduring appeal of physically demanding sports, which have transcended traditional class boundaries to become mainstream pursuits.

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