Inside Lines: Moynihan calls up big hitters as boardroom battle turns nasty
Sunday 27 March 2011
Beleaguered British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan has enlisted an army of heavy hitters to help fight his corner in the increasingly bitter battle with fellow peer Lord Coe and 2012 organisers, which has now seen him and the chief executive Andy Hunt banned from the Locog board until their Olympic cash dispute is resolved.
Tomorrow, luminaries such as Sir Steve Redgrave, Dame Kelly Holmes, Tessa Sanderson and Amy Williams will be revealed among 30 Olympic icons recruited to support the BOA's programme for Team GB in the build-up to next year's Games. Pro boxing stars Amir Khan and James DeGale will also add punch to a timely move ostensibly designed to provide a nucleus of big-name motivators to assist with the team's preparations.
But there is little doubt it is as much a muscle-flexing exercise to put the BOA in pole position in the power struggle to be the driving force in pushing Britain's athletes towards the podium. It is this which is behind Moynihan's determination to get what he considers a fairer share of any Olympic cash surplus.
Many of these big-name Olympians will be paraded by the BOA at London's Tate Modern in a show of support – 24 hours before Moynihan faces hostile quizzing from Britain's sports bodies over involving the already cash-strapped BOA in potentially costly legal action in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Moynihan, a little man with lofty ambitions, may well have justification in feeling that the BOA is not accorded the status it deserves with London's Olympics looming but in embarking on such a controversial strategy he risks a vote of no confidence in his chairmanship should things not go his way, which would be catastrophic for the BOA at this stage of the Games.
Arctic role for special agent
Some football agents have a bad name. That of plain Jon Smith has never been among them, and with good reason.
The man who has represented the England football team and whose current clients include Harry Redknapp has been raising money for leukaemia research since the death of his wife Lee, 30 years ago; he once jumped from a plane with the Red Devils. Now, at 58, he is to run his first marathon – on Arctic ice! He leaves for the North Pole next week to take part in the world's coolest sports event – at 40 degrees below! With dodgy knees he reckons he'll be happy if it takes him 24 hours.
"If you run too fast the sweat turns to ice and you freeze," he tells me. He hopes to raise enough to send a seven-year-old Essex lad, Alex Field, to California for treatment for an aggressive brain tumour. Support him on polarrunner.wordpress.com.
No mint for Murray
John Murray, 26, the European lightweight champion from Manchester, has the longest unbeaten record in British boxing, 30 fights dating back to 2003. He is also, he says, the most hard up, having had so few fights lately he's had to borrow the odd thousand pounds from young brother Joe, also a pro, to keep off the breadline.
He hopes his fortunes will change now he has signed as Frank Warren's new poster boy, making a debut title defence against Spain's Karim El Ouazghari at London's York Hall on Saturday. A hungry fighter no more?
When Liz almost KO'd Ali
Apart from her role in National Velvet, Elizabeth Taylor's sporting links were tenuous, although she was partially responsible for one of boxing's most iconic moments.
She sat screaming at the Wembley ringside in May 1963 when Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) fought Henry Cooper for the first time. Near the end of the fourth round he spotted her, took his eye off Cooper's famed left hook, turned his head and mouthed "Hiya Cleopatra". At that moment 'Enry chinned him.
The rest, as they say, is history – and might have been more so had the bell not rung, allowing young Cassius to win in the fifth as he had predicted.
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