By Frank Warren
Historically, boxing has a record for racial tolerance and integration that is the envy of all sports in Britain.
For decades, possibly centuries, boxing gyms on these isles have been inhabited by fighters of multiple colours and creeds, training and competing together harmoniously. Fighters earn respect from their fellow men through combat in the purest, most noble manner.
Middleweight Randolph Turpin from Leamington Spa – the son of a Guyanese immigrant father – became Britain’s first black boxing world champion in 1951, more than a quarter of a century before Viv Anderson became the first footballer to be capped for England.
In my memory, vile monkey chanting and the throwing of banana skins have never been a common feature of the cosmopolitan and enlightened British boxing crowd.
And that is why it is absolutely imperative that the British Boxing Board of Control address the extreme racist bile that has been sprouting from the computer of long time licence holder Alex Morrison, the manager of recently deposed world lightweight champion Ricky Burns.
In May 2013, the Glaswegian’s Facebook account posted that Muslims were ‘filthy, conniving, deceitful scum’. The post also urged the public to avoid voting for their politicians and to boycott their businesses. In another email from Morrison he said “we were seated amongst a crowd of smelly blacks.” And also said “all these lowlife, subhuman vermin from Liverpool shouting at ringside in their horrible accent”
Morrison claims that his Facebook was hacked. Really?! Did he report that to the authorities or the police? What action did they take? If he didn’t report it, why ever not?! These are the most heinous allegations levelled at him.
Prior to that, in June 2012, following an invitation from Olympics minister Tessa Jowell to attend a Labour Party dinner, an emailed response originating from Morrison’s office and allegedly signed – in Burns’ name, declined the offer citing “the current crop of MP’s are the most corrupt people on the planet especially the Asian Muslim variety”. It also called for the execution of terrorists, drug dealers and pregnant schoolgirls. It concludes ‘God Save The Queen and the state of Israel.’
Burns claimed to be outraged and vowed to contact the police, yet his solicitors wrote last week stating they were not instructed in the matter and to contact his Manager, so has Morrison or Burns reported it to the police? His continued failure can only compromise his standing as one of the sport’s good guys. I’m quite happy for the police to check my computers for verification.
Morrison has held licences with the British Boxing Board of Control for 30 years but they were revoked for 12 months in 1989 because he knowingly represented a visually impaired fighter under an assumed name, who was previously suspended because of severe retina problems!
To what extent the matter distracted Burns’ preparation for his unsuccessful world title defence last weekend is unclear. However for the third successive contest, the lad from Coatbridge was listless and I’d struggle to credit him winning six of the 33 completed rounds in those fights combined.
There was a resigned smile on ‘Rickster’s’ face after he’d conceded the world championship status he’d held uninterrupted since September 2010. He almost appeared relieved to forfeit the title.
Conqueror Terence Crawford from Nebraska deserves a big up from holding firm mentally upon entering the 8,000 strong cauldron up at the SECC in Glasgow and, as the judges’ cards concurred, he was a comfortable winner.
Nevertheless, given all the hoopla that preceded the unbeaten Yank, I’d expected a bit more stardust. He looked far from invincible.
This week, no doubt seeking to promote his forthcoming autobiography, we’ve had to listen to ex Spurs and Arsenal star Sol Campbell bleating about institutionalised racism within the Football Association.
Big Sol claims that had he been white he’d have skippered England for 10 years. Ahead of born leaders such as Adams, Shearer, Beckham and Terry? Cobblers....and I’m an Arsenal fan!
The FA have dealt swiftly and severely in the recent racism allegations made against Luis Suarez, John Terry and Nicolas Anelka. The Boxing Board must now follow suit. They owe it to the sport and boxers such as Nigel Benn, Frank Bruno, Naseem Hamed and Amir Khan who have so enriched our sport and the Board’s coffers.
However, it concerns me that the rich ethnic diversity evident at participatory level is not replicated within our governing which has disturbingly few from ethnic minorities.
It is completely unacceptable for some of the administrators who travel the globe, on the levies of its licence holders, to avoid confronting so crucial an issue for fear of incurring sizeable legal fees. They say they have reported the matter to the police but they cannot pass the buck, it needs to be dealt with efficiently as the FA have done.
The British boxing community is a small, tight knit, multi-cultural and largely harmonious bunch. To ensure that remains, and to uphold our admirable heritage regarding race, these most serious charges must be thoroughly investigated rather than brushed conveniently beneath the carpet.
Whoever is deemed must be severely dealt with and thrown out of the sport.
This evening brilliant British and Commonwealth super-flyweight king Paul Butler moves up to bantamweight in the hope of provoking a summer showdown with Darlington’s IBF king Stuey Hall.
The 25 year old ‘Baby Faced Assassin’, unbeaten in 14, heads my ‘Thoroughbreds’ promotion from Aintree Racecourse. BoxNation televise live.
From the moment I first saw the lad from Ellesmere Port during his days as a quality amateur, his tenacity and industry reminded me of a young Ricky Hatton. He’s also a far bigger ticket seller than the ‘Hitman’ was at a comparable stage of his career.
Extremely cordial and personable beyond the ropes, Butler is a seriously spiteful little blighter between. He has fabulous technical ability and is blessed with a sharp boxing brain.
He also has bags of perseverance and determination. He finally passed his driving test recently....at the fifth attempt!
James DeGale laboured before stopping Gevorg Khatchikian in the 11th round last Saturday in Bristol. His World Title fight also went out of the window when the WBC installed Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr as mandatory challenger to Sakio Bika.
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