Strictly Curse: Ben Cohen says relationship with Kristina Rihanoff strengthened by difficult times

The rugby player said he and his dancer fiancee have 'been through the wringer' over the past nine years.

Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff at the NTAs 2021 (Getty Images)
Ben Cohen says he and Kristina Rihanoff have 'been through the wringer'. (Getty Images)

Former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Ben Cohen has said difficult times have strengthened his relationship with Kristina Rihanoff.

The 44-year-old retired rugby player met the 45-year-old professional dancer on the BBC shows in 2013 and they were struck by the Strictly curse as Cohen was married at the time.

Cohen told Hello! magazine: "Over the last nine years we've been through the wringer.

Read more: Strictly curse: What is it and who has fallen for it?

"Most of all I’m happy to be doing this with Kristina. To support each other through difficult times in business is the ultimate test in a relationship. I've watched her flourish, from her becoming a mum to growing as a businesswoman, and it has strengthened our bond."

Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff during a press call for the UK Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour 2014 starting in Birmingham on Friday at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham.   (Photo by Rui Vieira/PA Images via Getty Images)
Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff taking part in the Strictly Live Tour in 2014. (Getty Images)

The couple – who are parents to six-year-old daughter Mila – are now planning a summer wedding after Cohen proposed in the Maldives in October 2022.

Mila and Cohen's 15-year-old twin daughters Harriette and Isabelle with ex-wife of 11 years Abby Blayney are all set to be bridesmaids.

Rihanoff said: "Mila can't wait. She's already told me what she’s going to wear. 'I want this kind of dress, Mummy, with a long train like you will have,' she tells me. She certainly knows her own mind."

The Russian dancer was previously hit by the Strictly curse in 2009, when she was partnered with boxer Joe Calzaghe. He split with his girlfriend of five years, Jo-Emma Larvin after falling for Rihanoff. They split in 2013.

Cohen and Blayney divorced in 2016.

Photographer Blayney said in 2021: "At the time of the break-up, when hugely stressed, I once angrily referred to Ben's partner as a 'f**king Russian dancer' to a journalist hassling me. I regret that now.

Ben Cohen and ex-wife of 11 years Abby Blayney.
Ben Cohen split from wife of 11 years Abby Blayney after meeting Kristina Rihanoff on Strictly. (Getty Images)

"I'm happier in my own skin and I'm not that broken girl who used to be married to a famous rugby player."

Read more: Strictly curse: Ben Cohen's ex-wife regrets publicly insulting Kristina Rihanoff

Rihanoff retired from the show in 2015 and took part in Celebrity Big Brother in 2016.

Watch: Kristina Rihanoff dated Shirley Ballas's ex-husband