Boxing: Warren leaves bullying Whelan spinning

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The Independent Online

Charlie Whelan, a former spin doctor, has made the same mistake as Mike Tyson. He tried to bully Frank Warren, the boxing promoter. Tyson's miscalculation cost him millions in a legal settlement. The price for Whelan, if he has any sense, is a self-imposed ban on publicly debating sport with anyone who knows anything about the subject.

Whelan, who should have been cautioned by a terrible drubbing he and his Radio Five co-hosts had just received from Chris Woodhead, Her Majesty's former Inspector of Schools, jeered at Warren's criticism of the BBC's squandering of licence-payers money on Audley Harrison.

"Didn't Muhammad Ali fight Richard Dunn?" cried Whelan is his rather unappealing, smart-arsed way? Yes, Warren confirmed, before pointing out that Dunn was a reigning British champion and that all world-title holders from time to time have some fights that are easier than others, which in Ali's case was particularly excusable in that he had already fought everyone who mattered.

Warren pointed out, with proper scorn, that the BBC had stupidly handed over a million pounds for a series of risible main events, Harrison's most recent proposal being to fight a publican who had been in the ring just once in the last four years, when, in 2000, he won on a disqualification after being battered to the canvas several times. Whelan, perhaps concerned that a cosy little sneer at boxing had turned into a biting and irrefutable attack on his bosses, said lamely that Harrison is an Olympic champion. Warren, naturally, pointed out that this fact merely increased the scandal, a point he underlined by detailing the activity of a stream of former Olympic champions.

The thing about spin doctoring is that you can dream it all up at your leisure. Debating with somebody who knows what he is talking about is a much more hazardous business. Now, Charlie Whelan has the bruises to prove it.