Robin Scott-Elliot: Roll up for boxing's latest circus act where disrepute pays big dividends
There have been previous attempts to revive Jeux Sans Frontières but until yesterday they had never come to fruition. Now roll up, roll up at Upton Park on 14 July and watch David Haye and Dereck Chisora take the reputation of boxing to a new low. Perhaps they will be asked to try to peel an orange with their gloves on in between rounds, to add to the decorum of the occasion.
Thanks to the vagaries of the European Union's freedom of trade laws and the willingness of the Luxembourg Boxing Federation – clearly the place to go for fights of convenience – to put hard cash before the good of the sport, the ever-resourceful Frank Warren has managed to get his game across British frontiers and there is nothing the hapless British Boxing Board of Control can do about it.
It may be correct to suggest the BBBC has made an almighty mess of the situation and that there is nothing amiss here; that it is, as Warren put it, "legal and lawful". It will make those involved money and, no doubt, give an evening of entertainment and bumper viewing figures for the channel showing the fight. But that in no way makes it right.
In what other sport – and for this fight that term should be attached only loosely, as this is a circus act – are the practitioners rewarded for bringing it into disrepute? That is without question what Haye and Chisora did in Munich in February.
"There are far worse things happening in sport," said Warren yesterday. No doubt there are, but in how many sports would an event like this have been able to go ahead? It makes an utter mockery of boxing's governance. Hugh Robertson, the sports minister, once called football the worst governed sport in this country – globally it is a tag that should be attached to boxing.
What would have happened had two England footballers, those at the top of their sporting profession in this country, as Haye and Chisora are in theirs, behaved in such a manner? The opprobrium would have come crashing down in tidal waves.
At the highest level, sports men and women have a duty of care to their sport. It is their responsibility, and it is a burden that comes along with the honour and glory (and the financial reward). These two men let down their sport, and to glory in that – as they and Warren are doing – is plainly and depressingly wrong.
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