Call me sexist, label me old-fashioned, but I have no desire to watch women hitting each other at the Olympics in 2012.
With a little bit of luck I will be in London to cover the Games, and I can almost certainly guarantee you that I will not go near the boxing venue for one good reason – the sport lacks the lustre it once did.
I was in Beijing last year, and I had not a single reason to go watch the men’s boxing. Well, I did consider going to watch South Africa’s only entrant, Jackson Chauke, but he was fighting at the same time as Ryk Neethling was swimming in the 100m freestyle heats.
Chauke v Neethling … who’s likely to make the headlines? It wasn’t much of a contest, I’m afraid. The irony is that if I thought Neethling would qualify, I probably would have gone to the boxing, where Chauke was convincingly beaten, having landed one scoring punch the whole fight.
However, I had suspected that Neethling wouldn’t qualify, in which case that would be his last race and his incredible Games career would be over – and his failure in 2008 would be a much bigger story. And as it happened, Neethling didn’t qualify.
But my point is that there was not a single boxer – not an American, Cuban nor East European – who could attract me to go to the boxing simply as a boxing fan. There was no Cassius Clay, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Teofilo Stevenson or Felix Savon. At the 2000 Sydney Games I went to the boxing just to watch Savon; at the 2008 Games I made an effort to watch Usain Bolt run the 100m, 200m and 4x100m finals.
Part of the problem is that officials have taken the blood and guts out of amateur boxing, and another is that unpaid pugilism is not attracting the great sportsmen it once did, because they know they can earn more money playing gridiron, rugby, baseball, etc than they probably will when they turn professional.
Olympic boxing has lost its glitter, and I doubt female fighters will bring it back.
I can recall as a 14-year-old rugby fan going to Stellenbosch one Saturday afternoon to watch the club team I supported, Villagers, take on Victorians, Maties’ second team.
Villagers won the match, I think 30-21, but they lost the try count 4-3. A win may have been a win, but there was always a menacing element to being on the wrong side of the try count statistic. That’s probably because I was brought up on the principle that rugby is about scoring tries. Luckily for me, Villagers tightened up their defence and they never leaked that number of tries again that season, going on to clinch the Western Province league as well as the knockout competition.
I admit that the game of rugby is substantially different now to what it was back then, but even still, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something to be read into Saturday’s Tri-Nations match – comfortably won by the Boks 29-17, but with Australia taking the try count 2-1.
I wonder what will happen when the Boks get matched up front and have to use their backs to swing the match? The lack of creativity behind the pack (with the exception of the phenomenal Fourie du Preez) is a worrying factor for me. Yes, Victor Matfield’s try was a superb piece of play, sparked by John Smit’s grubber, but it’s a sad day when the forwards possess more flair than the backs.
Long may the Bok pack – and Morne Steyn’s boot – rule the rugby park!
Budd Schulberg, author of on the waterfront and the harder they fall, died this week aged 95.
His line, uttered by Marlon Brando in the Waterfront movie, is legendary – “I coulda been a contender”. Can you imagine a time when it was an achievement merely to be a contender? In the present age of boxing, there are hundreds of world champions and, by implication, thousands of contenders.
Farewell, Mr Schulberg. Thanks for the words.
Tiger Woods is all over the internet after apparently farting – just after Ernie Els has hit his shot during a golf tournament.
According to comments on the internet, there’s no doubt about the origin of the noise, which can be heard while the camera is focused on Els’s ball travelling down the fairway.
When the camera turns back to the tee box, Woods is sporting a huge smile.
Maybe he’s merely human after all, or perhaps that is what he thinks of Ernie’s golf at the moment.
There is another video on YouTube where Tiger shakes his leg while farting, but somehow I think that’s been doctored.
Until recently, every week I’d play golf with my regular partners, Rubberman Rowan and Battler of the Bulge.
Up for grabs was the hallowed prize called “The Sod”, a small bottle filled with bits from our weekly efforts, such as divot grass, bunker sand and, of course, a drop or two of water from those ball-sucking hazards.
On one occasion, during the recent school holidays, Rubberman and I found ourselves playing alongside a 12-year-old laaitie. We were 20/15 handicaps, and the Kid was a 10 – and it showed from the first shot, as he outdrove me and showed up Rubberman for accuracy. Rubberman, also known as the Lion of Windsor (our home course), where he roars his disapproval after every double bogey (which can be pretty frequent), was soon asking the Kid to help him read the greens.
Then he asked for advice about whether he should be using steel or graphite shafts. I’m not sure why, because The Lion has left the country. That leaves The Sod to myself (the defending champion, by the way) and Battler.
But I have no doubt there’ll be tons of kids to show us up over the years. Here’s one I’ve had the good fortune not to bump into on the course. Eleonora Galletti, just 11, has a beautiful swing to make a hacker like me cry. By the way, she’s a member at Royal Johannesburg, which also happens to be the home club of Ashleigh Simon.
To check out Eleonora’s swing on YouTube, click here
Fans of Floyd Mayweather can get to track him on Twitter (click here or go to http://twitter.com/MAYWEATHERMANIA).
The world’s pound-for-pound best boxer (former) comes out of retirement to take on Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas on September 19. The bout was postponed after Mayweather injured his ribs in training, and that’s a weakness Marquez is hoping to exploit.
But Pretty Boy writes on Twitter: “Marquez says hes goin after my ribs but theres no weakness in MONEY MAY. Only ribs he’ll b diggin n2 will b at Outback after I take him down.”
An arbitrary piece of trivia here… Mayweather and Marquez have fought on the same card twice, once in Vegas in September 1999 and the other in Grand Rapids in November 2003. What may be of interest to SA’s boxing anoraks is that on the second occasion, Mayweather demolished Phillip Ndou in seven rounds, and at that time, Marquez’s brother, Rafael, owned the IBF bantamweight crown, which was previously held by Mbulelo Botile – who was at the fight, having helped Ndou in sparring.
Mayweather and his uncle Roger were full of bluster, hype and bullshit – they got under the skin of Ndou’s trainer, Nick Durandt, who has the biggest mouth in SA boxing – but I must say I found Mayweather perfectly pleasant and polite during a couple of interviews I conducted. His bluster is part of the ring hype, and if you enjoy that type of thing, keep track of him on Twitter.
Mayweather v Marquez should be interesting, but if he’s the same Pretty Boy of old, he’ll surely win.
Isaac Hlatshwayo did South Africa proud by winning the IBF welterweight crown at the weekend.
The 147-pound class is one where very few SA fighters have starred on the world stage. Harold Volbrecht lost in two challenges in the 1980s, while Peter Malinga, Gary Murray and most recently, Lovemore Ndou, have lifted marginal crowns.
As the holder of the IBF title – one of the four mainstream belts – Hlatshwayo now rubs shoulders with the likes of Shane Mosley (WBA champ) and Miguel Cotto (WBO champ). And don’t forget Joshua Clottey, who had relinquished the IBF belt to go after Cotto. And then you have Manny Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather in the wings!
Just within the IBF fold, previous champions include Mayweather, Zab Judah, Vernon Forrest, Felix Trinidad, Lloyd Honeyghan and Donald Curry.
The welterweight division has been one of boxing’s most exciting over the years, hosting stars like Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran, Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya.
Hlatshwayo, in winning the vacant IBF title on points against Delvin Rodrigues, a capable American fighter, will still have to prove himself in the division. Going into this fight, The Ring magazine had Isaac ranked eighth, while Fightnews.com listed him at six.
It’s difficult to say where Isaac will go now, but whatever his future holds, hopefully he’ll get to earn a mountain of money along the way.
Good luck, Isaac!
Phew! Coach Peter de Villiers has decided to stick with Bok hero flyhalf Morne Steyn for the Tri-Nations Test against Australia in Cape Town.
Check out the latest news here.
I was trying to be cautiously optimistic after the first win over the All Blacks, but after this weekend’s victory, I reckon this Tri-Nations is for the Boks to lose! It probably won’t come this easy again.
There was no shortage of great sport this weekend.
We had the Springboks beating the All Blacks (again!), Orlando Pirates winning the Charity Cup and Gerhard Zandberg taking bronze in the 50 backstroke (as well as a whole bunch of other events).
But the contest that stood out for me was the men’s 100 butterfly final at the World Championships in Rome on Saturday, won by superhuman Michael Phelps who produced a display of awesome power. In claiming eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics last year, it was the 100m fly that created the most controversy, when Phelps was awarded the title by one-hundredth of a second, even though it appeared to the naked eye that Serbia’s Milorad Cavic had edged it.
Their showdown at the weekend was about setting the record straight, and once again it was Cavic who took the early lead – Phelps wasn’t even third at the turn. But on the second lap the American transformed into a long-armed aquatic monster, closing down the gap so quickly that with about 15 metres remaining, he was in the lead.
Both Phelps and Cavic went below 50 seconds for the first time in the history of swimming. Phelps v Cavic is a great rivalry, probably one that matches Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal, or Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier. Unfortunately, they probably won’t face off again until the 2011 World Championships, and then the 2012 Olympics in London.
But it’ll be worth waiting for!