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The Independent Online

Mapp gives amateur boxing ring of confidence

Amateur boxing can expect top-level backing after the new Sport England chair, Derek Mapp, sniffed the sweat andliniment for himself last week, dropping in on the famous London clubs Repton and Lynn to see how the sport is helping fight street crime and obesity. Membership of England's 743 clubs has doubled to over 14,000 in the past 18 months and Mapp, who seems to be making a fist of knocking Sport England into shape, was clearly impressed, telling the ABA's chief executive, Paul King: "This is exactly what we should be putting our money into."

'Low key' Harrison returns, but is A-Force a spent force?

Audley Harrison's comeback on the undercard of next Saturday's Clinton Woods-Julio Gonzales light-heavyweight title fight in Sheffield is, he admits, "low key". No kidding. His local opponent, Ricky Hatton's minder Paul King, 33, has lost his last 13 fights. But we wish Audley (right) well. Lose, and only Cage Rage awaits.

Publisher's snub for not-so-special ones

Now the Special One has gone, will Chelsea be anything special again? The publishers of 'The Opus' apparently don't think they ever were, having turned down an approach from Chelsea for the club to be the subject of one of the prestigious tomes which chronicle the history of great sporting institutions. The latest, on Arsenal, was published last week. 'The Opus', which has 850 pages, weighs 37kg, contains 2,000 photographs, runs to 400,000 words and retails for £3,000, has already featured Manchester United, with epics on Barcelona, Celtic and Tottenham in the pipeline. "To be honest," Karl Fowler, head of publishers Kraken tells us,"you can't put Chelsea in the same league in terms of richness of history and tradition. They were one of half-a-dozen clubs who approached us, but we politely said no." The Man United volume has been in such demand in the Far East that sales have had to be restricted there. The King of Malaysia even ordered a copy. Alas, the Czar of Stamford Bridge won't be getting an Opus of his own for his throne room.

Caborn in fight for top FA job

The former sports minister Richard Caborn, who is expected to be given a peerage when he leaves Parliament at the next election, is in pole position to become the new independent chair of the Football Association, a job he would relish. There are many within the FA who believe it would be an excellent appointment because of his political, Fifa and Uefa connections. And with the sit vac advertisement suggesting ambassadorial skills as a prerequisite he would seem to be ideally suited, as he is already fulfilling this role for a putative World Cup bid. However Caborn, 63 (pictured) can expect opposition from at least one high-profile figure on the appointments panel who thinks the sport is now so money-orientated the FA should be headed by a City financier.

A gay day as 2012 seek sponsorship high-fliers

Was the choice of one of London's top gay nightspots (where, coincidentally, the distinctly macho sprinter Tyson Gay was a guest of honour) to launch 2012's sponsorship deal with adidas a subtle message that the Games organisers are determined to appeal to all communities? This third major partnership is worth £100m - more than the expected profit of the Rugby World Cup - and next up could be an airline. With BA dithering, and the controversies over the Games costs, perhaps getting the backing of budget outfit easyJet might send out another subtle message.

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