Emmanuel Macron flexes political muscle with boxing photos

Social media users have questioned if the French president used Photoshop.

First he flexed his muscles on Ukraine. Now Emmanuel Macron has gone one further, releasing photos of him hitting a punchbag with bulging biceps in a show of his strength in action.

The French president’s photographer posted two images on Instagram, days after he began to take a far more hawkish public line against Russia.

It was not long before “Rocky” began to trend on social media.

Perhaps inevitably, others questioned whether the photos had been “enhanced”.

Doubters pointed to the size of his biceps, and re-posted the boxing picture alongside an image of Mr Macron, 46, with a skinnier arm.

Others joked and tweeted the pictures, taken by Soazing de la Moissonnière, saying that they showed Mr Macron, a keen boxer, getting ready to take on Russia and its 71-year-old president, Vladimir Putin.

They were published less than a week after the French president suggested sending Western troops to Ukraine could not be ruled out.

Speaking on French TV last Thursday, he warned that Russia was seeking to extend its power and would not stop now.

“If we leave Ukraine alone, if we let Ukraine lose this war, then for sure Russia will threaten Moldova, Romania and Poland,” he said.

The imagery will not be lost on his adversary in the Kremlin, who has been repeatedly photographed bare-chested to show his own personal fitness.

Gaspard Gantzer, a well-known public relations expert, told newspaper Nice-Matin that the president wanted the images to show “he is a Frenchman like any other … that he is in great physical shape … that he wants to fight.”

Soazig de La Moissonniere/ the President  MacronSoazig de La Moissonniere/ the President Emmanuel Macron is known to be a keen boxer

Broadcaster CNews said of the pictures: “In the two photos, we see the head of state ready to fight, his gaze fixed on the punching bag.

“As if he was determined to beat his opponents. The drawn features, the bulging muscles, the clenched teeth, the president looks like a true warrior.”

French weekly women’s magazine Femme Actuelle painted a more flattering view, saying the photos “hit hard” and also pointed to bulging biceps.

However, the photos did not go down well with all in France.

Sandrine Rousseau, an opposition Greens MP, reposted the photo on Twitter with the comment: “What misery of politics!”

“The pose seems advantageous,” the French daily newspaper Le Figaro said, but added that the photos had “aroused much mockery”.

Mr Macron is among a long list of politicians who have been keen to show off their sporting prowess.

President Putin famously paraded bare-chested on a horse and is no stranger to an ice hockey match or releasing a judo DVD.

Mr Macron previously made headlines with a very relaxed photo of him in an unbuttoned shirt and chest hair on full display.

His wife, Brigitte Macron, said in November that the president did boxing training twice a week.

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