Inside Lines: Government in boxing battle with medics

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The Independent Online

The Government and the British Medical Association are involved in a heated fight – over boxing. Alarmed by the sport's resurgence, the BMA have attacked the Government's high-profile support for boxing's return to schools, resulting in an exchange of letters between the arch-abolitionist Dr Vivienne Nathanson and the Sports Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe. The BMA argue that boxing, even at amateur level, is dangerous and should be banned. Sutcliffe counter-punches that it has "much to offer in teaching youngsters discipline, promoting health and fitness, and keeping them away from anti-social activity whose tragic effects are frequently in the news". Prof Nathanson cannot be best pleased that the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, indicated his own enthusiasm for boxing by hosting a Downing Street reception for Britain's "magnificent seven" Olympic qualifiers. This was arranged by Sutcliffe's predecessor, Richard Caborn, the new president of the Amateur Boxing Association, who says: "I am more than happy to fight boxing's corner with the BMA."

Hammers take winning Lee way on board

When London won the 2012 Olympics in Singapore the spin-mastery of communications director Mike Lee was noted by the local government, who subsequently hired him to help orchestrate their own successful bid for the inaugural Youth Olympics in 2010. The fact that a nation no bigger than the Isle of Wight defeated mighty Moscow to host such a prestigious event will go down as a major PR coup for Lee. Now the former spokesman for Uefa and the Premier League has become a director at West Ham, will Upton Park's wheel of misfortune get a more positive spin?

Will London Torch run inflame Beijing?

It seems to have taken the organisers of the London leg of the Olympic Torch Run a long time to realise that the 6 April event could be hijacked by human-rights protesters. A £1 million security operation will now be mounted, but there is little doubt Tibet and Darfur activists will be mobilised to embarrass the Chinese government and press for a Beijing boycott. While the former might be welcomed, the latter will not happen. The British Olympic Association chairman, Colin Moynihan – who defied Margaret Thatcher's boycott call and competed in Moscow in 1980 – tells us that he will listen to arguments, but adds pointedly: "I have yet to hear a call for a boycott of the Shanghai Grand Prix." Taking on the IOC is one thing, upsetting Bernie Ecclestone quite another.

£100m funding quest Pascoe's biggest hurdle

Alan Pascoe, the founder of the sports marketing agency Fast Track, has belatedly been handed the task of finding the £100 million sponsorship the Government want from private-sector funding to help Britain's 2012 Olympic competitors to raise their medal tally. Given the downturn in the economic climate, it is likely to be the biggest hurdle the ex-athlete has faced. A National Audit Office report last week criticised Government tardiness, and if there is now a shortfall then surely the Prime Minister is obliged to put his hand in his pocket – or rather that of his Chancellor.

National Sporting Club seek new home after 75 years

The legendary National Sporting Club are leaving their home at London's Cafe Royal, which is to be converted into a hotel. The NSC have staged boxing and other prestigious events there for 75 years. "We don't know where we are going, it could be anywhere from the Savoy to the Dog and Duck," says chairman David Willis.