Inside Lines: Call for snubbed fight stars to boycott tonight's Beeb awards

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The Independent Online

More than a fistful of Britain's top professional boxers will be in the audience at tonight's BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards in Birmingham, for which one of them, David Haye, has been nominated. But the promoter Frank Warren says they should be boycotting the event in protest at the BBC's refusal to screen the sport.

Warren himself has declined an invitation saying: "The way the BBC blanks pro boxing is disgraceful. They won't show it on television yet they have the cheek to ask boxing personalities to be there to add prestige to the event when the cameras pan around the audience. Any boxer who attends should be ashamed, and I have told my own fighters so, although it is up to them. If I was David Haye I would tell them to eff off. He should be asking: "What has the BBC ever done for me?" Fellow world champions Amir Khan and Carl Froch are expected to be among the fistic line-up, together with James DeGale, whom Warren manages. DeGale has told Warren he appreciates the stand the promoter is taking but feels he should go in his capacity as an Olympic champion. The BBC do cover Olympic boxing and screened the recent GB amateur championships, but they stopped televising pro boxing after the embarrassment of Audley Harrison's farcical £1 million deal to box a bunch of hand-picked pushovers. Warren claims the Beeb attitude is "hypocritical" as boxers rank second only to athletes in winning the SPOTY main award (five since its inception in 1954) and Muhammad Ali was named as the all-time greatest.

Weight and see for Zoe

Omnipresent diving prodigy Tom Daley is favourite to make it a hat-trick of awards for Young Sports Personality tonight but surely an equally worthy winner – if not a worthier one – would be another 16-year-old, the weightlifter Zoe Smith, the Kent schoolgirl who was the first English female and the youngest athlete in the world to have won a medal in her sport at the Commonwealth Games. The unbeaten 100 metres sprinter Jodie Williams makes up the trio of short-listed contenders for an award which demonstrates that Britain's sporting future is healthier than the economy. Another Williams, the Olympic bob skeleton gold medallist Amy, won't win the main award but is worth more than an honourable mention as the only top-10 nominee still struggling to make ends meet. Her victory in Vancouver brought the freedom of her hometown, Bath, and an MBE but she still awaits a word from a sponsor. Just as well she says she is happy just bobbing along: "To be honest I never came into this sport to make money."

Blatter in suspense

The fact that he was once president of the Society for the Preservation of the Suspender Belt suggests that Fifa's boss, Sepp Blatter, has no gay tendencies (unless he had a closet penchant for wearing one). The leg man's apology for his flippancy over 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar's criminalisation of homosexuality may have temporarily placated the Gay Football Supporters' Federation but it hardly enhances his dream of a Nobel prize. To get that he might need to persuade Saudi Arabia to stage the Women's World Cup.

Board games at the FA

The decision of Sir Keith Mills not to make himself available for selection as the next FA chairman ("He is far too valuable to me," says the 2012 chief, Lord Coe, of his deputy) is a huge disappointment for the Government as he was their preferred choice. But good news for Spurs, who see retaining Mills as executive director vital in their bid to acquire the Olympic Stadium. Although he has yet to publicly indicate his interest, David Dein now seems certain to be the FA Board recommendation this week for a post which has attracted so few quality contenders that the FA's Cup now appears more the Poisoned Chalice.

Oh yes he is!

No doubt the fight fraternity will be tickled to learn of the new role of John Morris, the former general secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control: that of a panto dame at Paulersbury Village Hall in Northants. He is Cinderella's wicked stepmum Grimalda.