Inside Lines: Boxing's 'Man in the Hat' Mustafa ringside ticket for the Olympics
Sunday 29 January 2012
As Amir Khan's prospects of getting a rematch with Lamont Peterson, who deprived him of his WBA world light-welterweight title, apparently recede by the day, he may well be regretting making such a song and dance about the circumstances of the controversial defeat and the curious role of the "Man in the Hat". However, it emerges that he has not seen the last of the mysterious Mustafa Ameen. Ameen has said he plans to be at London 2012, where Khan hopes to support his younger brother Haroon, who is in contention to box for Pakistan. Doubtless Khan and the mysterious Mustafa will bump into each other at the ExCel ringside, where the Washington interloper may well be observed, as he puts it, "looking after the interests" of the United States heavyweight contender Michael Hunter, whom he represents. Whether this qualifies him for accreditation is unlikely, but such is his propensity for "jibbing in" that you wouldn't bet against him ending up in the VIP box at the opening ceremony seated alongside Jacques Rogge, helping him check the notes for the International Olympic Committee president's speech.
Oscar's night in London
The Olympics are just six months away, but next weekend London will get a foretaste of the sort of hoopla that awaits this summer when the global glitterati tread the red carpet rolled out in Westminster for the Laureus Awards, sport's own Oscars. The annual blue-chip bash, which is bankrolled by multi-million dollar international sponsorship, descends on London, giving sport the Hollywood treatment that it has hitherto enjoyed in Monaco, Estoril, St Petersburg and last year Abu Dhabi. Central Hall will be awash with superstars, but no Brits need have their "I love you mum" speeches prepared for either of the principal gongs. None are shortlisted for World Sportsman or Sportswoman of the Year, although BBC Sports Personality winner Darren Clarke is a contender for Comeback of the Year and Rory McIlroy for Breakthrough of the Year, together with Mo Farah. England's cricket team, wheelchair athlete David Weir and BMX cyclist Jamie Bestwick figure in other categories, but one of the night's biggest winners could be "blade runner" Oscar Pistorius (pictured), who is in the running for two awards. Oddly, one VIP name missing from a guest list ranging from motor-cyclist Giacomo Agostini to figure-skater and Dancing on Ice judge Katarina Witt is Laureus Academy member Lord Coe, who is apparently preoccupied with 2012 matters.
Steele proves trustworthy
No surprise that John Steele, summarily ousted after his relatively brief sojourn as the Rugby Football Union chief executive during the Twickenham turmoil, has resurfaced in a similar post with the Youth Sports Trust. Ironically he replaces the man he hired as the RFU's rugby development director, Steve Grainger. Further evidence that what goes around comes around is that Steele, still one of sport's most able administrators, is happily reunited with his former boss at UK Sport (where he was also chief executive), Baroness Sue Campbell, who also chairs the YST.
Ken you believe it, Boris?
You would like to be a fly on the wall at the next meeting of the London 2012 board, on which Boris Johnson and Tessa Jowell sit as fellow members, now that Ken Livingstone has nosed ahead in the London mayoral race according to the polls. For vigorously flapping the towel in the red corner for Ken is former (now shadow) Olympics minister Jowell, who is orchestrating his campaign against the man she calls "a Tory toff". Jowell insists that Boris knows the score and it's not a personal grudge fight. "Sport is sport and politics is politics," she tells me. "We don't mix the two." There must also be interesting glances exchanged in the ladies' powder room at Westminster between Jowell and the feisty former Labour sports minister Kate Hoey, a Boris fan who is also his unpaid adviser on sport.
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