Inside Lines: 'It's madness' says DeGale as golden coach Edwards is axed
Sunday 11 January 2009
Terry Edwards, the most successful coach in the history of British amateur boxing, has been axed, a move described last night by Olympic gold medallist James DeGale as "utter madness". The 65-year-old Edwards, who masterminded DeGale's triumph in Beijing, where two boxing Britons also won bronze, was awarded an MBE last week but has been told his contract, which expires in March, will not be renewed. I understand he will leave immediately. His likely replacement is the former WBC super-middleweight champion Richie Woodhall, now a professional trainer and TV commentator, with Audley Harrison's former trainer Kelvin Travis, himself once fired by the Amateur Boxing Association, taking temporary charge of the GB squad from tomorrow. The changes follow the appointment of Kevin Hickey, 67, who was the British Olympic coach in the Eighties, as performance director of the newly constituted British Amateur Boxing Association. Neither Edwards nor Derek Mapp, who heads the BABA and took the decision to end the one-time London cabbie's eight-year tenure, would comment last night, but the reaction from the boxing world was one of anger and astonishment. Said DeGale: "This is terrible, utter madness, especially after what Terry did for us in Beijing. It only confirms my view that those who run the sport are idiots. The writing was on the wall for Terry when they brought in over him someone [Hickey] who'd been out of the game for 20 years. In my view, our hopes of medals in 2012 have gone right downhill." Bronze medallist Tony Jeffries, who, like DeGale, has turned professional, described Edwards' sacking as "disgraceful", adding: "If it wasn't for Terry I wouldn't have won my medal, and after all that they did to undermine us in Beijing I think someone else should be resigning over this." Said the promoter Frank Warren: "It's unbelievable. I don't understand where they are coming from – no wonder they call themselves amateurs." Despite Edwards' phenomenal record – under him boxers including Harrison, Amir Khan and Frankie Gavin won 10 medals at Olympic, world and European level – the factions within the ABA who wanted him out have got their way. They will argue that a new direction is needed with the depletion of the Olympic squad, but they face a bumpy ride as both DeGale, who will name Jim McDonnell as his pro trainer tomorrow, and Jeffries are suing over unpaid Olympic bonuses, while Edwards isalso taking legal action over comments made by ABA chief Paul King.
Cold comfort for Kerrs
Torvill and Dean are back 'Dancing on Ice' on a TV screen near you today. Meantime, the couple who were supposed to be the new T and D, Scottish siblings John and Sinead Kerr, will be doing their best to demonstrate that the sport hasn't disappeared through a hole in the ice in this week's British Championships. So far their Highland flings haven't quite caught the judges' eyes as the old 'Bolero' did, but they glide in hope. The fact that the championships are in Nottingham, where T and D began it all, must be rather cold comfort.
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