Inside Lines: Black humour from a political soldier

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The Independent Online

Boxer Bernard Hopkins calls himself a "political soldier", and his current reading material is Sun Tzu's 'The Art of War'. No doubt it arms him for the pyschological attrition he is waging on Joe Calzaghe, whom he meets in Las Vegas on 19 April. Fascinating character, Hopkins, a 43-year-old ex-jailbird from Philadelphia who has become the most politically conscious American sports figure since Muhammad Ali. In IoS today we report how he fears the black Democrat contender Barack Obama will be assassinated should he reach the White House, and in a week in which British sport raged over the racist treatment of Lewis Hamilton by Spanish fans, he refused to backtrack on his statement that he would "never lose to a white boy". Yet he insists he is not racist (he's supporting Hillary Clinton), and knows such trash talk will up the ante on the £20 million catchweight contest with Calzaghe. "I can get up tomorrow, read the papers which say I'm a racist but I am not going to get mad. I'll go back to sleep, wake up, fart, go to the bathroom, get on a plane and go back home."

Track-and-field day for Chambers' lawyers

Dwain Chambers must be running up a tidy legal bill in his pursuit of a place in the World Indoor Athletics Champion-ships and subsequently the Olympic Games. Unless, of course, his learned friends are acting altruistically or on a no-win-no-fee basis. Chambers could soon be taking on both UK Athletics and the British Olympic Association in the courts here and possibly in Europe – which should give the lawyers a track-and-field day. Costly for someone who has had to hand back much of his drugs-fuelled earnings. This one will run and run. The question is, will Chambers?

Still no sign of post haste from Ronaldo

After a week spent remembering the legacy left by the Busby Babes after Munich, perhaps someone at Old Trafford might jog the memory of Cristiano Ronaldo and remind him how different the relationship used to be between fans and players. Recently we wrote of the request, first made some four months ago and subsequently twice repeated, for him to sign a supplied photo of himself for one young supporter's birthday. Still no response. Several readers recount similar experiences with players at United and other clubs, but one tells how boxer Amir Khan sent a signed photo by return of post. Khan employs someone to deal with his worldwide fan mail. He can afford it, and at £140,000 a week so could Ronaldo, especially as it's tax deductible.

Blatter wants Rooney and Co in Olympics

Sepp Blatter's latest wheeze, we hear, is one that will certainly appeal to organisers of London's 2012 Olympics. He wants Fifa to relax the rules and allow teams without age barriers to take part in the Olympic football tournament, currently mainly restricted to Under-23s, which means that stars such as Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard could play for a British team. Great idea, but one unlikelyto find favour at the Premier League, who in any case doubtless will have arranged for Manchester United and Liverpool to be playing each other in Shanghai at the time.

Six months and counting – will Beijing be Rogge's folly?

Exactly six months from now, the doves of peace will be fluttering around Beijing's "Birds' Nest" Stadium. Amid growing disquiet at the political and meteorological implications of holding the Olympics in China, IOC president Jacques Rogge insists it was the right decision. But you can bet his chopsticks are crossed.

insidelines@independent.co.uk

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