“Are we still going to be able to demonize us after this?”: new deputy for Haute-Saône, Antoine Villedieu, 33, went in a few months from the octagons of MMA (mixed martial arts) to the RN group at the ‘Assembly.
Double world champion in this discipline, which notably combines wrestling, jiu-jitsu and karate, in just a few years he has built up a reputation in the Franche-Comté media.
Sometimes to popularize what was still called free-fighting, sometimes as an ambassador for charitable causes, donating part of his combat bonuses to associations for sick children.
“A good mood behind which humanism shines through”, wrote in 2017 the Republican East about the champion, immortalized in full dictation for the ELA association against leukodystrophies, the one of which Zinédine Zidane is the godfather. Tight-fitting t-shirt on a sharp build, we see him reading a text by Leïla Slimani to a 6th grade class.
His career in the rings over, the mayor of Vesoul, Alain Chrétien, an ex LR Macron-compatible, offers him to appear on his list for the municipal elections of 2020. So a peacekeeper, Villedieu accepts. Was elected… then resigned after a few days in office.
In question, a like under a tweet from Julien Odoul, the very media representative of the RN in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, who scratched Christophe Castaner.
“If we had known that he was relaying RN publications on social networks before, we would never have taken him”, regrets Alain Chrétien today, adding that his ephemeral municipal councilor, initially registered under the label Agir, the constructive right wanted above all to “shine”.
“I did not feel comfortable on this list”, argues Villedieu, never inserted until then, swearing not to have advanced masked. “I felt like a Sarkozyist, and then I had my disappointments with Fillon. In 2017, Macron-Le Pen, I hadn’t voted, I no longer believed in it”, he explains about his political position.
Having become a police officer, first in Seine-Saint-Denis before joining the Besançon police station, Antoine Villedieu is “seduced by the pro law enforcement discourse of the RN”.
There follows an express membership in the party after a meeting with Julien Odoul and Marine Le Pen, and here is the former champion bombarded departmental delegate of the RN in Haute-Saône at the start of the 2020 school year.
Last year, he became the spokesperson for the independent professional federation of the police, a union reputed to be close to the far right.
“I was the nicest, the most beautiful in the world, and overnight, I was taken to task by the press”, he annoys, although he assures “not to blame nobody”.
After a failure in the departmental, he revived in the fall by bringing Marine Le Pen for the first time to Vesoul on the occasion of the Sainte-Catherine fair, the event of the year in this city of 15,000 inhabitants.
Selfies all smiles and walkabout for hours for the boss of the RN. “The images served almost the entire campaign, it was insane,” recalls the new MP. “The first big slap I put on the local political plan”.
In the presidential election, Marine Le Pen has her fourth best national score in Haute-Saône, nearly 57%. “Better than the Var, it’s unlikely”, still boasts the former champion of Italian origins, who before the legislative elections made the trip to Bergamo, where he has roots, to meet with deputies from the Lega, the far-right party of Matteo Salvini.
“They had demoralized me by reminding me that the two-round majority ballot was very unfavorable to us”, compared with the transalpine proportional system.
A few weeks later, Antoine Villedieu nevertheless won. Well helped by Alain Joyandet, local LR baron, who in the between rounds did not support the outgoing walker against the former boxer: “It cannot be worse than the last five years for Haute-Saône “, had declared the former Sarkozyist minister.
“Villedieu had an incredible chance, it’s a vote of etiquette more than skills”, scoffs Marc Mantovani, departmental manager of Reconquest! in Haute-Saône, a time affiliated with the RN, which warns: “He has enormous ambitions”.
26/06/2022 09:23:51 – Strasbourg (AFP) – © 2022 AFP