Boxing

Ex-British boxer worth £100m now nightclub tycoon – and worked with Paris Hilton

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British boxing may be all about Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury right now – but one former fighter lived a second life away from the ring as a nightclub tycoon too.

Joe Fournier, 38, lifted the WBA International light heavyweight belt in 2017.

Starting just two years earlier, he has been unbeaten throughout those stints in the ring.

But his story before donning the gloves involves money, nightclubs and even enjoyed a casual working relationship with socialite Paris Hilton.

Fournier is the founder of the exclusive Bonbonniere club in London, having invested in hot-spots for lavish parties since 2012.

It has seen him rub shoulders with celebrities such as Nicole Scherzinger, 50 Cent and LA heiress Hilton in a job that earns £20-30m a year.

Having started by running his own gym, the 38-year-old previously said [via The Sun ]: “It's really difficult to get people to do lunges and eat salad, but it was easy getting people p*****, drink gin and tonic, party, and eat pizza.”

Meeting David Haye through his multi-million-pound nightclub business, he hit the boxing gym to lose weight.

And he ended up going professional, lifting his first belt after five years of hard work.

Fournier was born to a wealthy family in 1983, going to elite school Lycée Francais Charles de Gaulle de Londres, Kensington.

A divorce, though, saw his life change completely with a move to Hounslow.

He said [via The Sun]: “I went from having a chauffeur-driven car to school every day, to taking the bus.”

But he did get the opportunity to meet four-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah, staying in touch with the running legend.

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  • And it saw Fournier keep fit with a basketball career, showing early signs of his leadership skills with 43 England appearances as captain.

    Adversity hit again, though, when a scaphoid injury to the upper part of his wrist but the now-boxer out of action.

    But his passion for fitness was still strong, setting up his own gym and targeting high-flying celebrities such as Madonna.

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    Fournier then started to reap the rewards when a book earned £30,000 in advance and still pays royalties.

    Selling off his business in 2012 to a FTSE 100 company, it led to a new venture in nightclubs which are now located around the world.

    With 193,000 followers on Instagram, he regularly shares image with his celeb pals alongside private jets, lavish holidays and training photos.

    But his friendship with ex-British heavyweight Haye sparked the switch to boxing, training in his now-defunct Haymaker gym.

    Fournier said: “Having grown up in a tough neighbourhood in Hounslow, you know if you can punch or not and you know if you can take a punch.”

    Aiming to lose weight gained from his nightclub lifestyle, he enrolled Barry Jones – the former featherweight champion who he owned his first bar with.

    “I used to knock back the beers but I've stopped drinking and people send me emails saying they've lost 20lb since they started following me on Instagram,” Fournier added.

    But one look at the 38-year-old’s Instagram snaps shows his incredible body transformation to become a lethal hitter.

    A few months later, the debut fight game against Jorgen Burgos which was won by knockout.

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  • After further fights in the UK, Belgium and the Dominican Republic he remained unbeaten.

    But a failed drugs test following a win over Mustafa Stini was going to keep him out until December last year.

    He face the latest adversity head on, though, and won an appeal to reduce the sentence which set up his bout against Wilmer Meja for the WBA title.

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    But Fournier, always ambition, already had his eyes on his next fight, having called out super middleweight boxer Callum Smith.

    And he had the wealth to offer a big prize, saying: “I will buy him a jet plane or a house if he fights me!”

    That fight is still yet to happen – but the nightclub owner, who could probably run front of house by himself, continues to train.

    He could be fighting soon, though, amid speculation Fournier will appear on the undercard of Jake Paul vs Ben Askren next month.

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