Inside Lines: Snubbed Maloney set for political punch-up

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The Independent Online

As Lennox Lewis announces his retirement as world heavyweight champion his former manager, Frank Maloney, pointedly snubbed in that valedictory speech, is preparing to climb into the political ring, taking on Ken Livingstone for the title of mayor of London. It is a fight he knows he cannot win, but he promises it will go the distance and reckons the man back in the red corner will end up with at least a bloody nose. "Look," says the pint-sized ex-publican from Peckham. "I done the impossible with Lennox when he became the undisputed champion. I took on Don King and won - and he's a real monster - so Ken Livingstone don't faze me." The Union Jack suit in which Maloney did his Little and Large act with Lewis in the days before their estrangement has been sponged and pressed, ready for the hustings and the election platform on 4 June. He is running on behalf of the United Kingdom Independence Party, comprised largely of disaffected Tories (though Maloney claims he is personally to left of New Labour) who are vehemently anti-Europe and last week launched his campaign with a soirée at his substantial home in Chislehurst, Kent. Remembering his roots deep in Del Boy territory, he is currently on the look-out for a yellow Reliant Robin to use as his battle bus which will carry one of his manifesto slogans: "Sod the criminals, help the victims." Maloney's ticket also embraces ending the selling-off of playing fields and support for the London Olympic bid - providing the whole nation pays for the Games. "I'm losing money by doing politics because I'm neglecting my boxing business but if I don't finish in the top four I'll leave London and go and live in Australia. Honest." Get ready to duck, Ken.

Campbell under fire over Verroken 'mess'

These are disquieting days at UK Sport, where the future of Michele Verroken, head of their anti-doping unit, remains unresolved and in the hands of lawyers. Following differences with new chairman Sue Campbell she was placed on "gardening leave" but is now on sick leave, with outside doping agencies told that she no longer represents UK Sport. Her situation, and the abrupt departure of popular chief executive Richard Callicot, were the subject of a heated council meeting last week when Campbell came under fire. Says one insider: "Hard questions were asked but no satisfactory answers were given. Some members are very angry. We heard no evidence of misconduct by either party. It just seems to be a case of a clash of personalities. But the chief executive just can't keep bashing on in this autocratic manner." Shadow spokes-man Colin Moynihan wants sports minister Richard Caborn to intervene in the controversy. "He has to sit down with UK Sport and sort this out this mess. It is very unsatisfactory." Quite.

Coe and co look north for bid support

Londoners may be sold on the idea of getting the Olympics for 2012, but how about the rest of the country? This could be a much harder sell, which is why the bid team are mounting high-profile roadshows, beginning in the North-east today. There, bid vice-chairman Seb Coe will link up in Gateshead with Jonathan Edwards in an attempt to build support for the bid. Says Coe: "We have to get the message across that the whole nation can benefit from this bid in terms of sporting, economic and tourism spin-offs. The North-east is important because it could host football matches and be a training venue for some of the 200 Olympic teams." Chairman Barbara Cassani is also on the case, recently pressing the flesh at a 1,000-strong business gathering in Sheffield.

As one world champion slips away, another "cool" Brit gets set to slide downards - but upwards to glory. What Dr Kristan Bromley does on what resembles a hi-tech tea tray may be far removed from what Lennox Lewis did in the ring, but the dangers are equally inherent.

The Team Bath man known as "Dr Ice" is in pole position to become the first Briton to capture the overall World Cup bob-skeleton title in Altenburg, Germany, next weekend. Although he finished seventh in yesterday's fourth round in Latvia, he still heads the standings with a 26-point lead over nearest rival Duff Gibson, of Canada. Lancastrian Bromley, a research engineer, had previously won all three World Cup events this season, in Calgary, Lake Placid and Lillehammer, and earlier this year set a British track record at Altenburg. With a world title under his belt, brave Bromley will be well equipped to improve on the bronze medal RAF girl Alex Coomber acquired for Britain in the last Olympics, in Salt Lake City.

Roy Bentley, who died recently aged 77, was a familar figure in sports journalism when Fleet Street housed the public prints.

For 20 years he was a popular sports news editor of The Sun so it was no surprise that his funeral in Hertfordshire last week was well attended. But no one recognised the chap wearing a London Football Association tie who seemed distinctly puzzled. "I thought there would be more football people here," he said. "I saw Roy play on many occasions." It transpired he thought he was at the funeral of the other Roy Bentley, of Chelsea and Fulham fame, who happens to be alive and well. "Wouldn't dad have loved that," said one of the journalist's three daughters, Gay.

Exit Lines

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