It is a wet and dismal Sunday morning and the newspaper itself came in a bit damp and limp. On an inside page, there is a tightly framed snap of English boxing hero Amir Khan sprawled out on the canvas. An unknown black Colombian boxer stands over him, gloved fists raised in triumph.
For the British public, another bells and whistles pin-up idol has lost its shine. Pub landlords too are unhappy, not selling too many pints during the 54 seconds that the Great Khan lasted, live telecast and all. Some blame the coach and some the choice of the opponent. That is hilarious. If Amir could have chosen his adversary at the 2004 Olympics, he would have won gold, instead of running in to 34 year old Mario César Kindelán Mesa and settling for silver.
The biggest villain in this sham does not get a mention anywhere. Whenever there is promise of talent in the UK, it is only a matter of time before the media nails it between the eyes. Even an average chap, after a couple of flashes in the pan, is elevated to the status of an Ed Moses, Don Bradman or a Sergey Bubka. From there on, he is constantly followed, ambushed, photographed, centre staged, exaggerated and finally made to believe that he is a lot better than what he really is. The money flows in, nights are too short for the parties and training is such a bore. Bed mates come on a conveyor belt, there is a different sports car every weekend and all strict managers are fired. (Not to deviate from the topic, I now speak nothing of the Winehouses, Allens and Doherties)
Let us take the current idols such as Flintoff, Harmison and others. None of them are true world class, like say, Botham or Snow. Frankly, they are quite over the hill to reach anywhere serious. Kevin Pietersen has not done half the stuff that Viv Richards or Tendulkar did at the ripe old age of twenty eight. They are all on a wobbly podium erected by the hustlers. If the sensational media, both print and electronic, stopped brainwashing young athletes, the truly great ones might still emerge and survive naturally. I hate to think what will happen to Theo Walcott, Andy Murray and Lewis Hamilton if things go at this rate.
Talking about Amir Khan, definitely he is no Theophilo Stevenson, Jake LaMotta, Sugar Ray Robinson or Marvin Hagler. At least, not yet. Amir till now was taken on a carefully guided tour of an easy assortment of glass jaws. Now Breidis Prescott, not even a top ten man, has exposed Amir for what he can be. Let the boy go home, brood over it and stay away from the sycophants, sponges, fast cars and angry judges. He could also send a note of apology to Oliver Harrison, his previous trainer who quit after voicing his concern over Amir’s lack of discipline and loose social life.
Tailpiece: Not all Olympic medal winning boxers have gone on to become world champs. The reason, in most cases, is that the better guys are already slugging it out in the professional circuits without taking the Olympic route. Also, let us not forget that Britain has a score of genuine heroes who recently raided the gold chest at Peking Olympics. Please note that none of them were created by the tabloids. It was really all old fashioned OBE, Own Bloody Effort.