Commonwealth Games: Gavin's pursuit of Amir has a golden hue

Amir Khan was the only Commonwealth boxer to win a medal in the Athens Olympics, which says a great deal about him but not too much about the quality of Commonwealth boxing. No matter, the 237 combatants who assembled here may not be class acts by Amir standards but the early stages of the tournament at the cavernous Melbourne Exhibition Centre witnessed their fair quota of blood and thunder. The Friendly Games? Not when you are endeavouring to punch the lights out of each other.

At least Amir is with them in spirit, telephoning a good luck call to the England team and in particular to 20-year-old Frankie Gavin, his regular sparmate before Athens. Last night the Birmingham southpaw who has taken over Amir's lightweight berth showed he has got the message with a smartly worked victory in his opening bout, outscoring Ovidiu Bobirnat, of Cyprus, 16-5. It was a skilled, punch-perfect display of which Amir himself would have been proud, especially as the "Cypriot" is not quite what he seems. He is in fact a 27-year-old Romanian who won a bronze medal in the world championships before his "adoption" by Cyprus, where he has made his home.

Gavin rated this as one of his best three performances, and vows to return with gold, saying: "Losers aren't remembered. Gold medallists are. Hopefully I can go down he same road as Amir. He's an inspiration to me."

So he is to another 20-year-old, James DeGale, the eye-catching London middleweight who started his campaign oozing his trademark confidence with a blistering 98-second stoppage of hapless Fijian Tomasi Naivaqa, throwing a dazzling array of combination punches that earmark him as a future pro champion. "Early days yet but the power's there and I'm already feeling on top of the world," he said. National coach Terry Edwards, whose boys certainly had a g'day in Oz, warned him: "If you don't get the gold we're leaving you here!"

Like most of the team DeGale has had a red streak put in his hair, though a couple of Merseyside members declined because they are Everton fans. Silver-haired Edwards, 61, promises he will join the red brigade if they meet his prediction of eight medals in Saturday's finals.

This is a tournament cloaked in controversy. There's a light-heavyweight from New Zealand, Soulan Pownceby, who has served four years in jail for the manslaughter of his baby daughter and a Tongan has been ruled out because he ison an assault charge. The bouncer who was cleared after the incident which led to the death of Aussie cricketer David Hookes in a pub brawl two years ago has been helping coach their team.

Controversy goes hand in boxing glove in this sport where both audience and boxers know the round-by-round scoring. Thus the English heavyweight Danny Price, first of the 11-man squad to exit on Friday, knew he was being fight-clubbed out of it by an Australian painter named Brad Pitt. He did his best to catch up but admitted he boxed below his best. "Three months of my life wasted," he sighed. "I've let everybody down."

Edwards, who defended Price's contentious selection, told him he hadn't and insisted he was still a prospect for Beijing. But Price remained inconsolable. In boxing it is not so much the aching jaw but the aching heart that hurts the most.

Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing