Inside Lines: Golden coach set to quit if boxing goes to blazers


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The Independent Online

Former sports minister Richard Caborn says he will fight to save the future of a sport in turmoil after a boardroom coup forced the removal of Derek Mapp as chairman of the British Amateur Boxing Association last week.

Caborn had threatened to resign as chair of constituent body ABA England if Mapp was ousted by boxing's control-seeking blazerati, but he told The Independent on Sunday last night: "I shall stay in the fight and try to push through the modernisation plans instigated by Derek. In all my time in sport I have never known anything so stupid. Why do they want to smash up the best elite structure in the country? They are taking us back to the dark ages."

Mapp, forced out after four years during which Team GB won 28 international medals including three Olympic golds, said: "This is all about blazers hanging on to their power with total disregard for the athletes."

There is now an immediate review by UK Sport of elite boxing's £14 million of public money, with a deadline of 10 June for governance issues to be resolved before ringfencing this funding. If Sport England also withdraw their £5m grassroots investment the ABAE, who voted for Mapp's removal despite Caborn's wishes, face insolvency.

Richard Thomas, the chair of ABA Scotland, the principal instigators of the coup, claims the interests of clubs and volunteers have been sidelined by BABA and insists "there will be no impact on the excellent work carried out by both the UK Lottery-funded World Class Performance Programme and the BABA".

But the mess could lead to the loss of head coach, Rob McCracken, who was instrumental in his other role as Carl Froch's corner Svengali in last Saturday's epic victory. He will surely go if there is a return to the dinosaur days when selectors rather than the coach picked the squads.

And what of the future of the Olympic super-heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua? This upheaval may well clinch the decision for him to turn professional.

Copper boxing

In boxing's other internecine war, Frank Warren has counter-punched rival Eddie Hearn by signing former Matchroom star Carl Frampton, Barry McGuigan's unbeaten bantamweight world title contender, for his BoxNation TV channel, with a 20 July debut at Wembley.

Warren will also confirm next week he is taking boxing back into the Olympic Park, promoting regularly at the 8,000-capacity Copper Box, the 2012 handball venue. Hearn has been asked to attend a Board of Control hearing on Wednesday into events surrounding his fighter Lee Purdy's failure to make the weight in his recent US world title fight.

Cheques and bouncers

The taxman would surely be more profitably occupied trying to extract the millions avoided by cute corporations such as Google, Amazon and Starbucks rather than chasing a few quid from cricket clubs who are baffled by the complex regulations; a point not lost on the Sport and Recreation Alliance, who are fighting the corner of the village people.

Their chief executive, Tim Lamb, who formerly went into bat for the England and Wales Cricket Board, says: "We have made a number of recent submissions to HM Revenue and Customs, inviting them to simplify what are highly complex regulations. The people running these clubs are volunteers, not tax accountants, so the clearer HMRC make the rules for sports clubs, the more likely it is that they will receive the right amount of tax."

A sword point

Fencing is seeking ways to make itself more exciting to watch, following wrestling, whose rule changes have helped it stay in contention for an Olympic place. There is one simple way to achieve this: remove the protective tips from the ends of the foils. Touché. Or more to the point, ouch!