Inside Lines: Anthony Joshua could face Wladimir Klitschko – at the Rio Olympic Games
Sunday 28 April 2013
Anthony Joshua's tardiness in joining fellow Olympic boxing gold medallist Luke Campbell in the professional ring may be because he has heard there is the possibilty of a fight with multi-world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko – in the Olympics!
This astonishing scenario could happen now the International Boxing Association (AIBA) who govern what used to be called amateur boxing have raised the Olympic age limit from 36 to 40 and may allow selected professionals to compete. And Klitschko – who will be 40 by the Rio Olympics in 2016 – has strongly intimated that he is keen to add to the Olympic gold he won for Ukraine in Atlanta 17 years ago.
He says: "It is well known that I really want to take part in the 2016 Olympics and AIBA is now working on making this possible." This may well influence any move by London 2012's super-heavyweight champion who has received numerous professional offers. If he is to remain part of the GB squad he should have renewed his funding contract with them a fortnight ago, but GB Boxing chairman, Derek Mapp, says they have given him an extension.
Joshua, 23, has resumed training at the GB set-up in Sheffield after a foot operation and I understand he may decide to stay on for Rio under AIBA's hybrid system which permits boxers to compete for cash in their new APB (AIBA Professional Boxing) tournament and for the British Lionhearts in World Series Boxing, which also substantially rewards boxers financially.
"It is a route I am seriously considering," he says. "I don't want to lose my love of the sport and some of the things thrown my way from the pro ranks are not about the love of the sport but what you can get out of it. I still have a great deal to learn and I could make history as a double Olympic gold medallist."
But then, so could Klitschko...
Qataris carry the torch
Manchester's National Football Museum will have an unusual house guest in July, the largest exhibition of its kind covering the ancient and modern Olympics. I visited it in Qatar which, for a country that has never held the Games and is a continent and a culture removed from Olympia itself, is a remarkable tribute to Olympism and a further indication of Qatar's desire to play host to the world's biggest sporting event after it stages the World Cup in 2022.
Put together by the German archaeologist Dr Christian Wacker, Qatar's Olympic and Sports Museum depicts the history of the Games, boycotts, doping, murder, mayhem and all. It also has a torch from every modern Olympics, and a mini-stadium, where visitors can trot around a track. It will be well worth a visit in Manchester, especially as the Olympic Museum planned for London's Olympic Park has been shelved because of costs. Maybe they should have asked the loadsamoney Qataris to sponsor it.
The ruthless piece of gazumping which saw Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson blocked from becoming the chair of Sport England – as predicted by The Independent on Sunday – was a ham-fisted piece of politicking by the Government.
She had been given to understand the job was hers and just needed to be rubber-stamped by the prime minister; instead he stamped on it despite the advice of sports minister, Hugh Robertson, and Lord Coe. I understand the embarrassing U-turn was largely engineered by Robertson's boss, the vengeful Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, who, when Minister for the Disabled, was given a serious going-over by the Paralympian peer.
Lady Grey-Thompson – who is likely to be a minister in a future Labour administration – was typically gracious when she encountered an apologetic Robertson, Coe and new Sport England chair Nick Bitel at a reception at the House of Commons last week.
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