Inside Lines: Doomsday Delhi boosts Aussie hopes for 2018

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The Independent Online

If Delhi is a disaster, who would want to stage a future Commonwealth Games (apart from Glasgow in 2014)? Step forward Hambantota, a tiny port on the south-east coast of Sri Lanka, with a population of 15,000, as one of only two bidders for the 2018 Games. A tad ambitious, surely, for a place still recovering from the effects of Sri Lanka's civil war and the 2004 tsunami. Yet it has surprisingly declared itself as the other candidate alongside Australia's Gold Coast, where the mayor, Ron Clarke, is one of the world's finest former distance runners. Hambantota has the dubious backing of India, but more significantly of China, who have invested £973 million in its redevelopment as one of the region's economic and sporting hubs, with a 37,000-seater cricket ground being built for next year's World Cup. The Commonwealth Games Federation will choose between the two bids at their West Indies gathering in November 2011, but after Delhi's doomsday scenario the Aussies must be feeling rather chipper.

Funtime for Frankie

The controversial Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle says of Team Scotland's concern that the athletes' accommodation in Delhi was unsafe, filthy and unfit for human habitation: "This should give Scotland an advantage, as that's the conditions they've been training infor years." Can't see him getting an invitation to Glasgow's VIP box in 2014.

Hatton's new line

Despite being banned by the Board of Control and currently in rehab, disgraced Ricky Hatton will get a sympathetic reception should he keep a long-standing date as guest speaker at the Boxing Writers' Club dinner on 25 October. Especially if he repeats the line now doing the rounds, that he was trying to lose weight by using Diet Coke.

Ups and Downes

Shoreditch Town Hall in east London wasn't the place to start a fight last weekend when 200 ex-pugs who had traded fists at one of boxing's oldest emporiums gathered to celebrate its fistic history. For many years it staged some memorable small-hall scraps. It also had a reputation for big upsets, not least 53 years ago when a stripling Terry Downes, now Britain's oldest surviving world champion at 74, faced an unknown Nigerian named Dick Tiger, brought in as an easy touch for the up-and-coming Cockney kid. Downes, the Hatton of his day without the booze, bingeing and snorting, was floored, cut and stopped in six rounds by Tiger, who went on to win the world middleweight title. In a sombre dressing-room, Downes was gently asked: "Who do you want to fight next?" "The fucker who made that match," he famously growled.

Death of a warrior

On a sadder, more personal note, I was dismayed to learn of the death last week at 68 of another former champion, Alan Rudkin, a great little warrior who fought three times for the world bantamweight title. We were flatmates back in the Sixties. A diabetic, he was found unconscious in a back street of his home town, Liverpool.