Inside Lines: Frank Maloney's bombshell leaves boxing shaken but supportive

 

Even by the bizarre standards of boxing's tales of the unexpected, the news that the veteran fight promoter Frank Maloney had undergone "gender re-assignment" and from now on is a woman known as Kellie ranks among the biggest bombshells to rock the sport. You could have knocked the fight fraternity down with a feather, let alone a right-hander.

I suppose the only more gob-smacking situation might have been if it was one of boxing's other famous Franks, Bruno or Warren, who had changed sex. Or that in the United States Don King was now Donna King.

Some very odd things happen in boxing, but nothing could have prepared us for this hard-nosed Millwall supporter, whom I had known for 25 years as a bit of a geezer in the most macho business of all, pictured wearing a blonde wig, a dress and declaring: "I have always known that I was a woman".

I have not been as stunned since back in 1971, when a group of us attending the first Ali-Frazier fight at Madison Square Garden were asked at the weigh-in if we would like to meet the screen superstar Burt Lancaster, one of the ringside pundits. Eagerly we agreed, and as we approached the butch idol of films such as Trapeze, From Here to Eternity and countless other smash-hit movies he turned towards us wearing mascara and lipstick, and with rouged cheeks. "Hi guys," he simpered. "Don't ya just love their muscles!"

Weeks later Lancaster, a thrice-married father of five, was arrested in Hollywood wearing women's clothes, and it was revealed he was bisexual and a transvestite.

Thankfully, times and attitudes have changed, which may be why Kellie Maloney's "coming out" at 61 has been received with far more understanding than opprobrium. You might have expected boxing's reaction to be one of cynicism, disbelief or revulsion, but it has been refreshingly supportive.

Maloney wants to return to the boxing scene as an administrator and adviser to young fighters and, I understand, would like to manage any gay boxer prepared to "come out". We await another book (his original biography was titled No Baloney), and doubtless film and/or TV spin-offs worth a million or more, as well as Kellie Maloney's first fistic-related appearance at the Boxing Writers' Club annual dinner.

Just as well the rules have been changed to allow women to be present.

Flying for the Olympics?

So far the Olympics haven't reached for the skies — but don't bet against planes providing more than a ceremonial fly-past in the Games of the future. Thomas Bach, the new president, says he wants the International Olympic Committee to consider exciting and spectacular new sports, and both Formula One and air racing could be on the agenda.

Which makes this weekend's UK leg of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship over Ascot Racecourse of particular curiosity. Top racing pilots, led by Britain's Paul Bonhomie, compete.

Another Ali rises

Fifty-four years ago Muhammad Ali was a precocious 18 when he won his Olympic title in Rome. This weekend a talented young namesake from Bury, also 18, goes prospecting for Olympic boxing gold, one of 33 young Brits taking part in the 28-sport, 204-nation Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.

Sadly, it is the first major sports event to be affected by the Ebola epidemic, and athletes from virus-hit countries have been told they cannot compete in contact sports or in the pool. Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia have already withdrawn following pressure from the Chinese government.

a.hubbard@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Exhibition Content Developer

£19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in South Kensington, this prestigi...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established managed services IT...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Recruitment Genius: Plant Fitter - Construction Industry

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This well established construction equipment d...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003