Inside Lines: Backhanders in Baku? How Dr Wu became boxing's Blatter

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The Independent Online

How bent is boxing? In 50 years of covering the sport I swear I have never seen a fixed fight – at least, not one where a contestant has taken a dive. But there have been dozens where the judging has either been crazy or suspiciously crooked, the latter mainly in the amateur game.

It certainly happened in the Seoul Olympics and I agree with Britain's Olympic champion James DeGale that there were dodgy decisions in Beijing. "How come the Chinese, who are novices in boxing, ended up with two gold medals?" he asks.

Good question, and one similar to that which Dr C K Wu, president of the international governing body AIBA, is having to answer following BBC Newsnight allegations that one of his henchmen arranged a $9 million payment from an Azerbaijan source to help bankroll their World Series tournament in return for a couple of guaranteed golds in London next year.

"Ludicrous," says Dr Wu, the English-educated Taiwanese billionaire who now finds himself the Sepp Blatter of boxing, angrily having to instigate an inquiry into British-made allegations of wrongdoing on his watch. Dr Wu came to power on a clean-up-the-sport ticket (and he appeared to have done so), so we must hope there will be no under-the-carpet sweeping. Those allegations will be hard to prove. But it is rather intriguing that Azerbaijan, an oil-rich chip off the old Soviet bloc, has, like Qatar in football, suddenly emerged as a power base for boxing, AIBA having held their convention there and switched the current world championships to the capital Baku from Busan in South Korea, where they were originally scheduled. Interesting to see how many golds the host nation win.

On the button

Those world amateur championships, in which GB have decent medal hopes, are among a multitude of regular live fight screenings by TV's first all-boxing channel, BoxNation, launching this Friday. Initially free-to-air, it will eventually become £10 a month subscription channel, and looks a sure hit on Sky platform 456.

Be sure to press the right buttons, as, amid the latest controversy, we hope computer-scoring ringside judges in Baku will do; notably when British fighters are in the ring.



Not yet the ticket

Lord Coe may have been a tad optimistic when suggesting that the 2012 Paralympics would emulate the preceding Olympics as a sell-out. While some events, notably track cycling, swimming and the ceremonies, may be over-subscribed, when the initial application process closes at 6pm tomorrow there will still be seats at all prices in most of the others.

All previous Paralympics have had to give away tickets, though eventually London may do better than most with bargains including a £10 day pass to watch a fistful of sports such as table tennis, powerlifting and judo at the Excel.



Rage in the cage

Mixed Martial Arts has never been my bag (especially when it involves eight-year-old Cage Fighters) but I am enthralled by the newly released film The Warrior. Superbly acted and scripted it is the story of two American brothers (curiously but brilliantly played by Brit Tom Hardy and Aussie Joel Edgerton), who are like boxing's Klitschkos but with a couple of twists. They are sworn enemies who end up fighting each other, almost to the death. Had this been a boxing movie it would rank with Raging Bull and Cinderella Man. Well worth watching – if you aren't too squeamish.



Roux's mat finish

Under-achieving judo's clear-out continues, with GB's French men's coach Patrick Roux the latest casualty. As we reported last week, the performance director Margaret Hicks and the women's coach Jane Bridge were fired by British Judo Association chief, Densign White, who has brought in the Romanian Daniel Lascau as coaching supremo. Says White, husband of Olympic legend Tessa Sanderson and himself under fire from disgruntled elements within the sport: "We need a unified team to take us forward to 2012."



insidelines@independent.co.uk

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