James Lawton: DeGale rages against blows delivered behind British backs

It is the best collection of medals in more than in 52 years, two bronze and a possible gold for the middleweight James DeGale today, but the British boxing team now have the look and the demeanour of the besieged.

Almost as bad as the dwindling gold rush which came when the super-heavyweight David Price was thoroughly dismantled by Italy's world champion, Roberto Cammarelle, and the Irish light-heavyweight Kenny Egan easily handled Tony Jeffries, was the terrible sense that not only had they been endangered at the front, they had also been betrayed at the back.

The release of the news earlier this week that another member of the team, the light welterweight Billy Joe Saunders, had arrived home in Hertfordshire to the news that he had been suspended by the Amateur Boxing Association, was plainly still a matter of anger among the three men who had stayed to fight for the glory, and now had been cut down to one. DeGale, a brilliant survivor with a perfectly crafted victory over the Irishman Darren Sutherland, put his indignation into words most graphically, declaring: "It's a load of shit at a a time like this."

Jeffries was less expressive but just as pointed after going down 10-3 to Egan. "Whoever leaked this news at this time should be sacked," he said.

The word within amateur boxing is clear enough. Backroom politics at the ABA are putting the 65-year-old coach Terry Edwards, who has now guided three fighters – Audley Harrison, Amir Khan and DeGale – to gold medal rounds in successive Olympics, under immense pressure. The former taxi driver is not likely to go quietly.

His contempt for his enemies was barely concealed after Price went down with almost sickening formality to Cammarelle.

"The team have one boxer in the final and have also gained two bronze medals, which is the best result since 1956. Even so, there are people in armchairs trying to tell me my job. There is tremendous spirit and we will go forward to 2012 with the same fight that has been shown here. The team have done themselves proud but they must have the support of everyone throughout the sport – that would be nice."

For the moment, at least, DeGale seems least in need of a helping hand. He was considered one of the less likely shots at the glory when the team arrived here but increasingly he has shown the poise of a man capable of seizing an opportunity.

His opponent today is the Cuban Emilio Correa Bayeaux, who has beaten him twice, but DeGale believes he has arrived at a crucial point in his career at exactly the right time. "My performances have shown a steady improvement and what I think I proved today is that I have got on top of the tactics I need to win here. My tactics are in great shape – and so is my head."

DeGale's self-belief was certainly not hindered by the ease with which he outpointed an Irishman who held a 4-1 advantage in victories before yesterday's collision. Sutherland took the fight to DeGale but his crowding tactics were treated by DeGale as an open invitation to score freely on the counter-attack. He did it so well that he eased into the final, 10-3.

Neither Price nor Jeffries could begin to match that kind of authority.

Price, who had, like DeGale, been growing in conviction throughout the tournament, admitted his opponent had out-thought and outpunched him.

"My tactics were all wrong tonight," said the lean, towering and extremely disconsolate man from Merseyside. "I feel as if all the hard work has gone down the pan with that performance. I thought he would box off the back foot but instead he came at me from the off.

"No one can take the bronze medal off me," Price said after his fight had been stopped in the second round. "What will I do now? I'll go on to London 2012 but after tonight's performance I'll probably do synchronised swimming."

That bleak Liverpool humour was a sad footnote to a personal campaign which had started with such promise, but it did strike the mood of a camp plainly suffering from a sense that they are the lone occupants of their particular foxhole.

The British were not alone in their angst, however. While the International Boxing Association was being drawn into still more controversy over Olympic judging – this time with a claim, by its own deputy technical delegate from Romania, that the results of random computer selection of judges were being adjusted later – the Irish light flyweight Paddy Barnes was incandescent after his 15-0 defeat by China's Zou Shining. Barnes plainly landed punches on Shining but none of them was rewarded. He said: "The way things are out here the drug testing should be on the judges, not the fighters."

On a hard and troubling day, DeGale at least emerged with some strong self-belief. "I really feel I can beat anyone I face right now," he declared.

Tactfully, he did not stress that this was only when his opponent fought from the front.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine