Inside Lines: Infighting at ABA as Audley's man takes over Olympic squad
Sunday 22 March 2009
A major row has hit amateur boxing following the appointment of one of Audley Harrison's former cornermen, Kelvyn Travis, as the new head coach of the British Olympic squad. Travis was sacked by the Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) six years ago following a fracas in which another coach had his jaw broken, but he has been brought back by the newly formed umbrella body, the British ABA, to replace the axed Terry Edwards. The move has not met with the approval of several influential factions within the sport, but Kevin Hickey, the BABA's performance director, says: "I have great confidence in his ability to do the job." However this is just one of the issues troubling an increasingly strife-ridden sport. David McElhinney, who has quit as the ABA of England's finance director, has sent a letter to all board members, which some describe as "dynamite".
The Independent on Sunday has obtained a copy of the letter, which alleges maladmin-istration and activities "detrimental to grass-roots boxing". Several regional organisations, together with the now disaffiliated English Schools ABA, who recently met the Sports Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, are calling for an independent investigation into the running of a sport that was one of Britain's most successful in Beijing but has lost three-quarters of the squad as well as the coach. Next Saturday, the bronze medallist super-heavyweight David Price becomes the latest to make his pro debut, while Edwards has been recruited by Ghana to mastermind their coaching. According to insiders, if Edwards and boxers James DeGale and Tony Jeffries are successful in their ongoing lawsuits, the ABA face possible bankruptcy.
A further indication of just how hard some of the eight apparently lesser-valued Olympic sports have been hit came yesterday with the resignation of water polo's performance director, Nick Hume, citing recent funding cuts. Though British Gas have just pumped £15 million into swimming, water polo remains the poor relation, and there are now fears for GB participation in 2012. Similar cuts have cost shooting, understandably miffed at having to use Woolwich rather than the sport's natural home at Bisley, their supremo John Leighton-Dyson. And volleyball has been forced to axe the national coach, Lome Sawula.
Cold war hots up in Sochi
The new Russian billionaire owner of the London 'Evening Standard', Alexander Lebedev, is among the candidates hoping to become mayor of Sochi, the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics. A rival runner is likely to be ex-KGB man Andrei Lugovoi, prime suspect in the killing of the Putin critic Alexander Litvinenko, who died from radiation poisoning shortly after a meal with Lugovoi in a London hotel. We doubt Lebedev will be taking tea with him.
Curry up, New Delhi
It is just not security worries threatening next year's Commonwealth Games in Delhi. The 'Hindustan Times' reports preparations are so far behind schedule it needs a "miracle" to be ready on time. Melbourne is on standby.
Boat Race free to air
The Boat Race is keeping its head above water in these hard times, but it will be £500,000 a year worse off when it returns to the BBC next year. Unlike ITV, the cash-strapped Beeb aren't paying a fee. The long and short of it is that the race organisers accept a nothing job because the anticipated higher viewing figures will keep the sponsors sweet.
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