Inside Lines: Olympian Jeffries hits out at ABA as he pitches in with pros
Sunday 30 November 2008
The break-up of Britain's Olympic boxing squad continued yesterday when the bronze medal-winning light-heavyweight Tony "Jaffa" Jeffries turned professional with northern promoter Dennis Hobson. Jeffries, 23, sealed a six-figure deal on the Sunderland pitch at half-time during the game against Bolton and will make his pro debut in January. But after witnessing his club's 4-1 battering he handed out one of his own, to the ABA, claiming he had not been paid a promised £5,000 bonus after Beijing and threatening legal action. The ABA insist the bonus scheme had already been withdrawn, but Jeffries says: "We have all been badly let down." Middleweight golden boy James DeGale and welterweight Billy Joe Saunders are due to sign for Frank Warren in London on Tuesday.
'New' Khan shapes up
Amir Khan, who also cashed in his Olympic medal four years ago, will not have his new US guru Freddie Roach in his corner when he attempts to resurrect his career in London on Saturday following a remarkable Hollywood make-over. After knocking him into shape Roach, otherwise engaged with Manny Pacquiao, has sent right-hand man Jose Arecelo to supervise Khan's comeback. The "new" Khan has undergone a physical transformation: slimmer waist, narrower shoulders and bigger thighs. There may be world title fights on the same night, but the Khan chin remains the main attraction.
Grass roots find spokesperson
One of the most acclaimed presentations at last week's Sports Journalists' Association awards was that made to the rower-turned-cyclist Rebecca Romero for winning Olympic medals in both sports. What makes her special is that, unlike many other Beijing gold medallists, she has not been over-indulging in post-Games celebrations but has been spending time speaking out for a better deal for grass-roots sports. Recently she impressed an audience of parliamentarians with her backing of a CCPR campaign for community amateur clubs to be allowed to claim Gift Aid relief on junior membership subscriptions. Not high-profile stuff, but impressive enough to suggest that when Romero finally takes her foot off the pedals after 2012 there's a spokesperson-in-waiting.
Golden leap for the Tylers
Another Olympian honoured by the SJA was the 88-year-old Dorothy Tyler, who won high jump silvers in Berlin (1936) and London (1948). But her husband Richard, 92, leapt higher than she ever did after a £1,000 win on an Olympic scratchcard.
Funding feels the chill
Sport will feel the first real shiver down the spine from the recession on Tuesday, when funding body UK Sport are expected to make cuts that could severely affect 2012 preparations ina number of sports. A plea will be made to today to the Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, for more Government help, and Alan Pascoe, the head of marketeers Fast Track, deployed to raise cash from private sponsors, says though times are tough, "there is definite interest out there but it will take time to develop".
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