Inside Lines: Ringside ticket for Murray – if he isn't in his own title fight

Click to follow
The Independent Online

David Haye reckons some 15,000 Brits will be cheering him on in his world heavyweight title fight with Wladimir Klitschko in Hamburg next Saturday, making it the biggest mass migration of fight fans since Ricky Hatton's supporters flooded Las Vegas for his bouts with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

"I know how Seb Coe must feel," he tells us. "People keep coming up to me in the street and asking how they can get tickets."

Haye's allocation of 7,000 went weeks ago, as did all seats on flights to Hamburg. He believes at least twice that number have obtained them through German websites (a good source of Olympic tickets too, by the way). It is also expected that TV pay-per-view sales will hit a record high, outdoing those for the Lewis-Tyson fight eight years ago.

One ringside ticket that will be going spare is in the possession of Haye's chum Andy Murray, an avid boxing fan, should he be otherwise engaged at Wimbledon.

Westminster wallopers

On the vexed subject of tickets, those still available for 2012 surprisingly include boxing at the Excel Centre – who would have thought handball and water polo more popular with the punters?

But maybe not for long after last week's results in Ankara, where Britain had its best-ever European Championships with four medals, including golds for Welsh fighters Andrew Selby and Fred Evans.

This is further evidence of the excellent work done by Rob McCracken, one of only a handful of home-grown coaches guiding our Olympic sports. It also underlines that political pressure must be applied to rescind the ridiculously anachronistic rule revived by the international governing body AIBA which will ban McCracken from the corner both in the upcoming World Championships and the Olympics because he is also involved in professional boxing as trainer to the world super-middleweight champion Carl Froch.

No doubt this will be on the agenda when Charlotte Leslie MP hosts a Westminster gathering tomorrow evening as the new chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Boxing Group, at which McCracken will be speaking together with some of the young medallists he has nurtured.

No one for tennis?

Even the Lawn Tennis Association's chief Roger Draper, whose perpetually rose-tinted specs remain smugly perched on his nose despite the alarming state of British tennis at grass-roots level, must be shocked at the results of a new survey which shows just how little British kids care about the sport, even with Wimbledon in full swing.

Most of those quizzed on behalf of the Ambition Axa Awards scheme simply don't relate to the game, don't know about it or simply don't like it. "Too expensive, insufficient facilities and not enough British role models," were among the reasons given.

Asked who is the world's top player, fewer than half named Rafael Nadal – some still thought it was Boris Becker, Tim Henman or Andy Murray.

Almost as alarming is the research carried out among another 2,000 youngsters which reveals that over half are unenthused about the upcoming Olympics, with only one in four reckoning they would feel encouraged to participate in more sport because of them. Interestingly, of those surveyed fewer in London admitted being excited over the Games than those in Yorkshire or Humberside where there are no Olympic events.

Rory's Olympic dilemma

Having successfully – and quite rightly – called the bluff of the blinkered home nations over the composition of the 2012 GB football team, will the British Olympic Association have to steel themselves for another geo-political battle – over golf?

The sport will debut in the Rio Olympics in 2016, and already there are suggestions that the new US Open champion Rory McIlroy will be the subject of a tug of war.

Despite holding a British passport, the 22-year-old from the Belfast suburb of Holywood is being courted south of the border by the Olympic Council of Ireland, according to the informed website InsideTheGames. Under the Olympic Charter any sportsman or woman living in Northern Ireland has a choice of competing for GB or Ireland (some 25 per cent traditionally choose Ireland) and McIlroy has already represented Ireland in the World Cup.