Inside Lines: ITV snatch of the day bloodies BBC's nose

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The Independent Online

Already stunned by Amir Khan's decision to turn pro, thus depriving them of their main man after they had elected to screen only amateur boxing from now on, the BBC have been caught by another sucker punch.

ITV's Snatch of the Day, the televising of Amir's requested farewell amateur bout in Bolton against Cuban Mario Kindelan, rescheduled for 30 April, has caused ructions in the Beeb's already brassed-off boxing department, where sport's big fish, Peter Salmon, never hooked on boxing, is hardly dish of the day.

ITV, whose return to boxing we predicted last week, have not covered the sport for 10 years, so need to put a commentary team in place, even if it is only for a one-night stand. Reg Gutteridge won't be making a comeback at 80, but at least they have a knowledgeable frontman in Jim Rosenthal, who is available as there is no grand prix that weekend. And it would be good if the man with the probing mike, Gary Newbon, could be brought back. He is now freelancing, mainly for Sky, after 36 years with ITV.

If all goes well with Amir, the former Sky man Mark Sharman, who has succeeded Brian Barwick as head of sport at ITV, may seek a longer involvement with the promoter Frank Warren and could even poach the BBC's excellent John Rawling. Much depends on Warren's contract-renewal negotiations with Sky who, like the BBC, now find it difficult to screen boxing on Saturday nights because of football commitments. ITV might also have some money available if they are outbid by the BBC in any new deal for the Champions' League. The BBC are believed to be planning a "huge offer" to share the screening with Sky.

Sport England score double top for board

Sport England seem to have made one of their more astute appointments with the recruitment of Birmingham's managing director, Karren Brady. As someone who knows a fair bit about making money and initiating community programmes, the feisty first lady of football should certainly liven up the board meetings. The lady pulls no punches. When a player once told her he could see her boobs she responded. "Take a good look, because you won't be able to when I transfer you to Crewe."

She is joined by Michael Farrar, the chief executive of South Yorkshire Health Strategic Health Authority, who played semi-pro football for Rochdale. However this still leaves the Sport England chairman, Lord Patrick Carter, without a deputy, now that Tessa Sanderson's term has expired. In view of the quango's absurd if politically expedient notion that darts now qualifies as a sport, might they now be considering that athletic giant Andy Fordham to fill the vacancy for the vice chair's seat? Or in his case, two seats.

All England enjoy that winning feeling

OK, so 2-0 against Azerbaijan did not grab anyone by the proverbials, and 4-0 against Northern Ireland was hardly a tale of the unexpected in the World Cup qualifiers, but at least England can boast of a week when the nation's football was on top of its game at virtually every level. In case you did not notice, of the 16 games played, 10 of them competitive, by junior, youth, senior and and women's teams, only one was lost (a 2-0 loss by the Under-16s to Japan in a youth tournament in France) and two were drawn. Sven's men lead their group, the Under-21s are top of of theirs in the European Championships, while the Under-17s and Under-19s are ranked by Uefa as one and two in Europe respectively. Brickbats abound in football these days, so it is nice to hand out a rare bouquet.

Had he lived to be a hundred - and by golly he almost did - Max Schmeling would never have stopped raising those famously bushy eyebrows at the depth to which boxing has descended into showbiz, from Rocky to reality TV shows, and now even a fistic opera.

Strange then, that there has never been a Hollywood epic about one of the most remarkable heavyweight champions: the German paratrooper who defied Hitler by helping the Jews, who knocked out Joe Louis, was made to scream in agony in their return match and subsequently befriended and bailed out the ageing, ailing Brown Bomber by paying his medical bills. Instead, the contrasting lives, bitter rivalry and latter-day friendship of Schmeling and Louis have been absorbingly chronicled in the newly published Ring Of Hate (Mainstream, £15.95), sensitively written by Thomas Myler. Although he died recently, just a few months short of his 100th birthday, Schmeling still holds one title: he lived longer than any boxing world champion in history.

In these pages last week the former Sports Minister Tony Banks expressed his fear that the vote for the 2012 Olympics might already have been "fixed" for Paris by the IOC. However, it transpires that the French might have gone some way to fixing it for themselves, and quite legitimately, too.

On 1 July, just five days before the crucial vote, the Stade de France will host a Golden League Grand Prix athletics event, giving Paris a unique opportunity to showcase their proposed Olympic Stadium and also to indicate to the IOC that the wrinkles which caused concern during the 2003 World Championships have been ironed out. How fortuitous that the event, which took place on 23 July last year, has been brought forward.

insidelines@independent.co.uk

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