Judo: Gordon's argument tarnishes his sport: Off-mat mayhem mars British Open

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The Independent Online
BRITISH judo received another blow to its reputation at the weekend when Elvis Gordon, its most well-known figure, was involved in what he described as a 'clash of heads' with his former coach, Malcolm Abbotts, during the British Open Championships at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham.

The two men have not spoken since the Olympics last year when Gordon left the Wolverhampton Judo Club for the Neil Adams Club in Coventry following disagreements over sponsorship and expenses money.

The matter came to a head on Saturday in a highly public fashion. Gordon fell behind on passivity penalties in his semi-final against Germany's Henry Stoehr, and Abbotts called out: 'Well done, Henry.'

An infuriated Gordon shouted to Abbotts that he should shut up and was immediately penalised further. At the end of the match - which he lost - he rushed up the stairway to Abbotts's seat, where the 'clash of heads' occurred. Gordon then continued up the steps while Abbotts was held back from pursuing him.

The police were called and Gordon was instructed to report to his local station today.

Gordon's colourful judo career, which has encompassed three Olympic Games, European and Commonwealth titles and many other honours, has made him one of the most-liked personalities on the circuit.

The incident will almost certainly be brought to the British Judo Association's disciplinary committee, which would consider banning him from competition and / or withdrawing his licence.

Judo has always attempted to discipline itself strictly in matters of etiquette and Charles Palmer, the president of the BJA, expressed his surprise that Gordon had been allowed to continue to compete in the repechage, in which he won a bronze.

To compound the embarrassment that the incident caused, the championships themselves, the first in this venue, were poorly organised, some fighters having to wait more than eight hours between their semi-final and final.

Nevertheless, there was no denying the high level of British judo. Despite a strong foreign entry, Olympic medallists Nicola Fairbrother and Kate Howey won their categories and Danny Kingston, 19, emerged as a new star after winning the under-71- kilo category in spectacular fashion.