Inside Lines: Board on ropes as politicians refuse to stop big fright night


A woman has been asked to referee the increasingly acrimonious punch-up between the promoter Frank Warren and the British Boxing Board of Control over the contentious staging of the Dereck Chisora-David Haye heavyweight scrap at Upton Park on 14 July.

Both parties, locked in combat as verbally brutal as anything we may see in the ring, have approached the Tory MP Charlotte Leslie, who chairs Parliament's All-Party Boxing Group, to argue their respective corners for and against a contest which threatens an anarchic schism in the sport.

However, Leslie, a 33-year-old fight fan who regularly spars with amateur boxers in her Bristol constituency, will tell them there can be no Government intervention, a situation that will be endorsed by the sports minister, Hugh Robertson. This will be a blow to the BBBC, who are so determined to stop the fight they have also appealed to the prime minister of Luxembourg, whose boxing federation have legitimised a promotion that could be worth over £1 million to them in sanctioning fees. Warren appears to have the BBBC over a barrel, with half the 40,000 tickets already sold.

Things are likely to get even nastier. The BBBC warn they will withdraw licences from all concerned, but Warren has counter-punched with a letter threatening a lawsuit. "In no circumstances will I walk away from this," he insists.

While one may have sympathy with the BBBC, there is no doubt they have mishandled this messy affair by imposing an indefinite suspension of Chisora's domestic licence for his misdemeanours when the pair met in February in Munich, which still allows him to fight under another boxing authority, rather than a ban.

Warren, his manager, has legally exploited this loophole. Yet there is one way it could be resolved. If Chisora goes ahead with a rescheduled appeal on 2 July the BBBC could lift the suspension and impose a retrospective ban of, say, four months, allowing him to fight Haye (whose own application to be relicensed also would need approval) 12 days later. The BBBC would lose face, but sanctioning the bout is worth four per cent of the gross receipts from potentially the richest fight in British boxing.

Unlikely, perhaps; but in boxing, money can speak louder than morality.

LOL for the village people

Of the 200 or more books around the Olympics already published or in the pipeline – from Neil Wilson's entertainingly compiled The Greatest British Olympians (Carlton, £16.99) to David Miller's doorstop-sized History of the Olympic Games and IOC (Mainstream, £40), the one most likely to be eagerly thumbed through is from an unnamed author.

The Secret Olympian (Bloomsbury, £8.99) is supposedly penned by a former TeamGB athlete, who reveals just how much fun goes on in the Games. A lot of laughs as well as lovemaking – in Beijing's Olympic village, the 10,000 free-issue condoms were emblazoned with the motto "Faster, Higher, Stronger", and had to be replenished hourly. Revealing stuff – except for the identity of the anonymous author.

Apparently he – or she – competed in Athens 2004 as a sprinter and reached the finals, so should not be hard to identify. Answers on apostcard, please.

Hoey's grass is greener

Boris Johnson has kept his pledge to make sport a priority following his re-election as London mayor. One on his first moves has been to re-enlist the former sports minister Kate Hoey as his honorary sporting guru – her official title is Sports Commissioner.

The unlikely pairing worked well during his last term, though one suspects some of Hoey's Labour colleagues weren't too enamoured. Hoey says her own priority will be to ensure that the London Olympics leave the "right sort" of legacy. "The big stuff can take care of itself," she tells us. "Our aim must to see that the grass roots and community sport get the financial help they need."

Quite right.

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