Monthly Archives: August 2012

Interview With British Heavyweight Champion David Price

British Champion David Price

On a summer afternoon with former Olympic bronze medallist & current British & Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion David Price, we discuss his up and coming fight with Audley Harrison – debating which Harrison may turn up – Olympic medals and selling out the Echo Arena in his home city of Liverpool. This would lead nicely on to John “Digger” Barnes and Pricey’s own love affair with Liverpool Football Club.

It left me feeling that Britain had in fact found a new boxing hero; a people’s champion that the ordinary man and woman can relate to. Liverpool has had its fair share of boxing legends down the years and I would leave hoping that Liverpool had once again found a new legend in the shape of the likeable David Price. After all the bad publicity within the sport lately, it is with a refreshing difference that Price represents all that is good about our true sporting heroes – a true ambassador for the heavyweight game.

Other than obviously the boxing which sports were you interested in growing up?

Living within a stone’s throw of Anfield, I was into football from a very young age; I loved going to the games and especially travelling to away games, which I enjoyed more than anything. For a youngster I would get a great buzz from those away matches.

It is well documented that you are a big Liverpool FC supporter, so how do you believe they will fare this season?

I think us as supporters perhaps have to lower our expectations and give the manager time to get things right. It’s difficult to do because after all “We are Liverpool Football Club”. We have some world class players, so I am keeping fingers crossed that we can finish within the top 4.

What was first game you attended?

It was a cup game against Brighton which we went on to draw 2-2 in the F.A. Cup in 1991 I think. I was already hooked on the Red men but after this experience, it was the real start. Everyone has that feeling when you go to your first game and you can’t wait to return – seeing players close up, there is nothing better.

Who was your favourite player? Being born in 1983 you must have heard the great tales of Liverpool’s great sides and players gone?

Oh it has to be “Digger” John Barnes – he was a fantastic player not only for us but I think he was underrated by other supporters in England. There was a time between ’87 and ’91 when he was unplayable. I also have a great deal of respect for Steven Gerrard, especially being a local lad like myself. He will certainly go done as one of our greatest players and one of the best in Europe. Class player.

Liverpool has always had a huge history of sporting heroes, who ultimately get treated like Gods – how have you found your own fame affecting the city and the people? Have you had any strange requests for autographs and such?

Ha! Ha! No strange requests. You know I feel incredibly honoured that people have been so supportive of me and I am genuinely taken by how positive people are towards me. Yes there are times when people want your attention when maybe I am out with my family but the way I see it is that they are the paying public who support me through different avenues, coming to fights or paying to watch on TV. It’s not just Liverpool people all over the UK I am getting a great response from people.

Has watching the London 2012 Olympics brought back lots of memories of Beijing in 2008 when you managed to come home with a Bronze medal?

Obviously it stirs memories of my own time fighting at the Olympics, but that time has gone. I did lose a fight to only win Bronze in Beijing so right now my mind-set is I couldn’t really care less about that bronze because I am on a journey, a different stage of my career. There will be plenty of time to look back once I have retired in a nostalgic way, but that time is not yet. Having said all that I am incredibly proud to say I am an Olympian.

How do you rate your Bronze medal in comparison to your British & Commonwealth Heavyweight Titles?

The British & Commonwealth titles are great titles to win as a professional fighter. This is where I am now in my career and those belts look fantastic on, it gives me a great sense of pride to know I am the best heavyweight in Britain and the Commonwealth.

Unlucky 13 and still undefeated, you now take on former Olympian Audley Harrison how do you see that fight going?

Well I am not at all superstitious, as for the Harrison fight you know I am working incredibly hard already, although we have yet to start the high intensity stuff. All I can say is I will work very, very, hard for the fight. I believe 100% that I will beat Harrison – I am younger, stronger and hungrier – but not for a moment will we underestimate him. We know what he is capable of.

Do you feel like you are in effect in a no win situation given the public’s perception of Harrison? If you win people will be reticent to give you the credit against Audley Harrison and his continued failure to live up to his passed hype?

Of course it can be regarded exactly like that, if Audley does not turn up to fight, but it takes two to fight and I will be going all out to give the fans what I believe they all want. I don’t pick my opponents – Frank Maloney does – but I fight anybody he puts in front of me and anybody who thinks that Harrison has not got ability does not appreciate the fight game. If he turns up with his “A” game then I predict a great fight.

Will you be doing anything differently during your training regime specifically for this fight?

Harrison is a tall southpaw which gives its own difficulty, but we are already working on it. Me & Franny (Smith) are beginning to prep for any specifics that fighting Harrison may provide – sparring partners need to be of a particular style, but we will be ready when we go into the training camp.

Your professional fight debut came on the undercard at The Echo arena in 2009, now you top the bill against Harrison back at that venue – can you quite believe this has happened so quickly?

It really is quite difficult to appreciate how quickly this has come along, I always wanted this and believed in myself that I could get to this place. This fight is already close to being a complete sell-out which is a huge compliment to me from the supporters and fight fans, I can’t thank them enough. At the end of the day they are paying my wages. I fully appreciate that.

What would you say is the best thing you experience now you are becoming such a household name?

Just the great response I get from people since winning the British & Commonwealth titles. I do get stopped a lot more and asked for autographs or photos. I like to think I am a down to earth kind of person so it took a bit of getting used to, but I don’t feel superior to people just because I have experienced a bit of success.

You know it’s great to think something I do can inspire others, which is the best thing.

How did you find your spell as a pundit recently? Is this somewhere you see as a possible side line alongside your boxing career?

I have enjoyed it immensely. I felt quite comfortable in that environment, and I love to chat anyhow, so being given the opportunity to express my views on boxing is of course ideal for me. I have appeared on Sky and LFCTV a few times now so you get more and more comfortable.

As far as this being a career after I retire from boxing, I am not too sure – I am hoping to make as much out of my boxing career as to provide for my family and not have to work again – that has to be the plan I suppose for us all and I am no different.

How do you relax outside the ring, what does David Price do away from the sport?

My young family keep me occupied, but I also like to go out with my circle of friends. I have the same group of friends that I have had over the last 10 years or more and it enables you to stay rounded and keep your feet on the ground. We go on holiday together and that group is a strong unit that we all protect from outsiders

There has been a huge discussion about our greatest Olympian lately who would be your top three?

Well the way I see it is that some of the athletes get more than one opportunity to win medals at the Olympics, although these games have slightly changed that. For me it has to be Carl Lewis who was a great all-round athlete, now however with what Usain Bolt has been able to achieve, he has to be up there.

Then boxing has had its great champions, when you think what can go wrong in a boxing ring. People like Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon, the Cuban boxers, who would both win three consecutive gold medals at three different Olympic games. True greats.

What would you advise to any young people looking up to you and thinking about getting involved in sport or particularly boxing?

Well a boxing gym can be a very intimidating place, when you first step inside those doors, but the confidence you gain from taking that first step will be worth it. The hardest bit is dipping your toe in but what is there to lose? Nothing.

You will never know what hidden sporting talents you may possess unless you take that initial step. It reminds me of my first time going into a boxing gym; I was unaware how much talent I had and not everyone will go on to be a professional athlete but you will gain an immense amount of self-confidence and fitness.

Finally David do you have a message for your fans around the UK and the world ahead of the Harrison fight?

Just a huge amount of thanks for all the support I have received – I see my career path as one we are all travelling along, we are in this together. Without the fans paying at the turnstiles or taking up TV coverage it’s very difficult to have a good career. I will try my utmost to bring the fans the success they and I want.

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Interview With Clarke Carlisle

Clarke Carlisle

It’s been a difficult year for the country’s most popular pastime with racism once again at the forefront of the English game. I sat down with Kick It Out ambassador and PFA Chairman Clarke Carlisle to discuss the state of the game, the Olympics and Queens Park Rangers fans song to celebrate Britain’s brainiest footballer.

Has your household been taken over with the Olympics? Which particular sports are you/did you enjoying the most?

Our “Olympic Fever” had run out before the opening ceremony! The build-up was so prolonged that we just wanted it done. But now it’s actually here, it has not been off the TV! It’s great to see excellence in anything, and these guys are giving us a great display of physical prowess. The gymnasts have impressed me, their strength is phenomenal. The most impressive for me was the archery. Hitting a bullseye barely two inches in diameter from the width of a football stadium’s distance is truly outstanding.

Have you taken an interest in the Women’s football? What sort of legacy would you hope to have gained from this for ladies football in the U.K.?

It’s very hard to gauge any impact as it is completely hypothetical. The hope is that many sceptics’ eyes have been opened to the skill, intensity and competition levels of women’s football. What may work against the game is the fact that the Olympics leads straight into the men’s season, while the women wait until next year for the super league to return to action. This delay could see the initial attention dwindle with a lack of action.

Were you disappointed along with some football fans to hear the booing of both Craig Bellamy & Luis Suarez firstly at Old Trafford and also in Cardiff when some supporters booed during the National anthem of Uruguay?

Taken what the games represent in terms of sporting behaviour – No individual athlete would be booed in any other event?

Very disappointed. There is a tribalism in football that just can’t be broken down it seems. Under the banner of Team GB, you would hope that club loyalties would be put to one side for a common goal. The feeling is compounded when, like you rightly say, it doesn’t happen in the other sports in the games. There is a competitive and professional respect that sees the efforts of all competitors applauded, but not in football. This is something that I would hope we can address in the future.

Do you think that football as our national game may have lost some future recruits to some of the other amazing sports within the games? That may have lit flames within youngsters within the country that may never have thought about those particular sports?

Not at all. I actually think it will increase the number of participants in all sports. There will be a number of people encouraged to participate that may never have previously enjoyed or been inspired to play sports, thus creating a fitter generation and increasing levels of competition. It will also help us as an industry. The figures show that less than 1% of lads in the game at 16 are still in the game at 21, a vast dropout rate. If you factor into that the number of kids in the game at 12-16, it is a huge number. The fact that these young men and women may be inspired to try another sport and utilise their abilities is only a good thing.

Some have debated how some so called elitist sports are not just lacking people of colour but also working class sports men & women. How do you thing we can try and address this for future games?

It’s very hard to remedy this. The sad fact is that these sports are labelled elitist because they are expensive. There is no way around this. To be a jockey, you need a horse. To be a marksman, you need a gun, with license and licensed premises on which to shoot. These are non-negotiable and, unfortunately, virtually impossible to bring to the masses.

When you were growing up Clarke which sports other than football did you excel in? Were you encouraged to have a belief that you could be capable of achieving in whatever you personally decided to participate in?

I loved all sports. I played football, rugby, cricket, basketball, badminton, and athletics, anything I could! I would say I was competitive at most, but only excelled at football and rugby. That positive encouragement is actually how my parents raised me, that I could be successful in anything, as long as I worked hard enough for it.

Do you think the pressure on young people whether from within inner city boroughs or from middle class backgrounds have in some way allowed them to turn their backs on sport, whilst being much more comfortable within music and other computer based hobbies? How do we get these kids back to playing fields, when most have been sold off or replaced?

Wow, this is such a multi-faceted question I don’t think we have the time! The government need to re-emphasise the importance of sport, increasing the “minimum” requirement of two hours per week to a statutory requirement of at least double that. It’s true that physical sports face competition from modern computers, but the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Parents setting boundaries, time sections for each, is a start. Also, the modern generation of youth needs to be inspired. Role models need to be mass approved, and the success of these athletes at London 2012 could be the basis of that. It will once again be “cool” to be athletic and competitive with it.

After your programme on “Is Football Racist?” what was the feedback like? I amongst others found it quite refreshing that you were prepared to converse with people through social media, going as far as giving people your email to address such issues?

The feedback was phenomenal and off the scale in the context of numbers! It wasn’t just people in agreement either, which showed me that we achieved our aim. There is a real reticence to speak about the issue of racism for fear of being branded either militant or racist if you have a view that is slightly left or right of “politically correct”. This has to change. How can we address an issue if we don’t know the true extent of people’s experiences and opinions? Giving people a freedom and a platform to do that has instigated conversations and discussions that will hopefully enable us to get a grip of the reality of the situation. With this we can actually make informed and positive strides forward on the issue. As for lending myself up on Twitter, I really believe that this has been the missing link between supporters and the modern day footballer. Communication lines had diminished somewhat since the introduction of ‘celebrity’, Premier League and PL wages. Twitter is a great tool to redress the balance. Giving a format where players and fans can interact under no obligation and, hopefully, in an ingesting and respectful way.

The question regarding football was asked Clarke “Is Football racist?” Well is it in your opinion?

Football is an industry that is leading the anti-racism campaigns and initiatives of our generation. It has helped the sport make great strides from the 70′s and 80′s where abhorrent behaviour was endemic. The program showed that there are still areas of the game where more work and improvement can be made. Football is reflective of society, not aside from it. There are still people in society who harbour prejudicial views, and so there will be people within football who do too. That, however, doesn’t prevent us from leading the way in our works and initiatives.

If we compare football as a participation sport against other sports – surely the answer is that football is not racist, but society at times can be assumed to hold racist views or language? Are football supporters anymore racist than those who watch mainly white dominated sports Polo, Show Jumping, Rowing and Shooting to give a few examples.

The idea of the show was to look beyond just verbal abuse on the pitch or in the terraces. Racism is such an amorphous issue that it could never be covered comprehensively in one hour. We could, however, open people’s eyes to facets of the issue that they may not have thought about before, like Asian football, Anti-Semitism etc., and others we didn’t have time to broach, but have brought up in interviews subsequently, like minority to majority abuse, minority to minority abuse, xenophobia, sectarianism and many more.

Understandably it becomes difficult for the chairman of the PFA to personally comment upon members – But have you or do you intend to instruct members about future behaviour? Indeed how they can help themselves by their own conduct on and off the field?

We do this every year with PFA execs who visit every club before the start of the season. We will be increasing the number of visits this year, and extending the topics covered so that all are aware, with zero ambiguity, what is expected of them this season.

Do you think the “Kick It Out” campaign for which you are an ambassador has been harmed by the recent racism rows and debates within football itself and from supporters? In respect that the media jumped in and it was front page news for a few weeks as it remained flavour, but now it seems the whole thing has become boring- with no TV news coverage of John Terry being charged by the FA or Rio Ferdinand?

There is a lot of talk about how guilty or not guilty judgements will impact the KIO initiative, but this is just not true. No matter what the outcome of any case, the message is that all alleged offences are taken seriously, investigated and brought to a conclusion via due process. This should encourage people that the campaigns are working, that things will be done and that society is moving forward on this issue.

Whilst on the subject of Kick Racism Out – why do you feel other sports have felt it unnecessary to have similar campaigns within their sports?

Not at all. There are many cross sport initiatives on anti-discrimination, it is just that football is the foremost sport in the world, never mind our country.

Do you think that football gives enough back to grass-roots football and projects? When the support it gets from those areas are fundamental to the constant progress of the game.

Football gives a fantastic amount back to grass roots, but how do you ever calculate if it’s enough? There are always areas that will need investment, further support and guidance, and the industry will endeavour to meet these needs. More can always be done, even though a lot is already in motion.

When you won the accolade of Britain’s brainiest footballer, what type of stick did you receive in the changing rooms?

Not too much really. I was injured at the time and the show was pre-recorded. After it was aired then I had a chant from the QPR fans that went:

“Carlisle, is a genius” to the tune of (Pet Shop Boys) – Go West!

Brilliant. If “Britain’s Brainiest Footballer” could change one rule from the Football rule book which would it be & how do you think that could improve the game?

Away goals count after 90 minutes in the league cup semi-final……not that I’m bitter!!

Clarke, I guess you must have been incredibly proud of both your mother & father who appeared in the documentary “Is Football Racist?” particularly your father who came across fantastically well – has he become somewhat of a celebrity now? How did he feel on watching that back? And indeed how did you feel?

Dad has received so many complimentary messages, not only about his youthful looks (!!) but about how well he came across and what a great man he is. Each time I see that section it brings me to tears. That was a really intimate moment, very real and ground-breaking for my dad, and for us as father and son.

What does the future hold for Clarke Carlisle?

I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do retain the belief that I will be successful in whatever I do, as long as I work hard enough!


Find more information on Kick It Out

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Olympic Spirit – Booing and Hissing its way to Gold.

The Olympic Oath

“In the name of all competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these

Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules that govern them, in the

true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams.”

So British/English football fans do their hardest to disgrace not only the sport they shambolically feign to support, but also the country or Island in which they live – I refer to the constant booing of Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy who would be booed during Great Britain’s first game at Old Trafford – those jeers for Bellamy would be replaced by applause after an excellent display would turn the opinion of said morons around.

I have watched many Olympics and I cannot remember anybody actually being booed whilst taking part in their particular sport – The Olympics would have an unwritten rule, where even athletes of the most limited ability receive accolade for the fact they are Olympians – that alone is enough to transcend everything else.

Football however is another animal, lacking in the most basic skills of fair play, where your opponent is an enemy, there to be kicked, sworn at and abused – The supporters of this sport follow suit, you can lead a horse to water then watch it get drunk at the well.

Is there really a place at the Olympics for this type of sport – or this type of supporter? I think that there is not – kick it out before it muddies more water, the problem is this Nation, this Great Britain that has educated its own that it is acceptable to adopt this pantomime approach.

Bellamy & Suarez both booed at Old Trafford – Bellamy by his own “Fans”

So we can all understand why opposing fans would want to boo and hiss at Liverpool’s Luis Suarez – Racism, handballs, diving, cheating all things that others would point accusingly at Suarez – so the racism aside nothing too dissimilar to most other footballers from the Premier League – indeed the stats suggest there are many worse.

Let’s deal with the racism then – Suarez accused of and found guilty of misconduct and abusive insulting words including Patrice Evra’s colour – A charge that although Suarez accepted the verdict, has always publicly denied those charges – this bit is immaterial guilty or not this happens to be the main reason Suarez finds himself booed whilst playing at the Greatest Show on earth – The Olympics.

It was quite shameful to hear people showing allegiance to Great Britain actually booing another countries National Anthem – It is beyond words, but like an old Iron Curtain nation it will be silenced by not one comment making any part of the Olympics round-up – pushed into the cabinet filed under “oh and a man was hit by a bus” – It feels like 1980s Russia – Imagine those pesky Uruguayans booing God save The Queen – exactly.

Hypocrisy is the one constant that all football fans tend to be guilty of – footballing blindness where we see only the best in our own heroes, whilst being able only to see the worst in our greatest of foes.

Stuart Pearce the Great Britain coach himself has accepted guilt also, in regard to a racist slur aimed at a fellow player – when Pearce would in 1994 say to Paul Ince “You arrogant black c**nt , some may believe that the fact Pearce admitted this and then apologised is enough – Ask yourself this how can people cheer and support Pearce because at this time he represents Great Britain, whilst booing Suarez for what is believed similar conduct?

Drugs Cheat Justin Gatlin

This whole argument is about the spirit of the Olympic Games or the lack of it during Football, there are many dubious cases for booing or hissing if we wish to look for them – take a look at the 100 metres sprint – Justin Gatlin would win an Olympic gold in Athens in 2004 before being tested  positively for a banned substance in 2006, Gatlin will appear in London 2012 and is one of the favourites to gain a medal after winning the USA trials with the fastest ever time by a man over the age of 30 in 9.80 seconds – Will the British boo boys & girls be out ready to hiss Mr Gatlin?

Then team GB has its very own drugs cheat representing them in London – Dwain Chambers would test positive in 2003 for a banned performance enhancing drug, he would receive a lifetime ban which has since been overturned – God forbid if Chambers were to win

The very worst issue I have with all of this booing, is how easily this has all been accepted without a newspaper or commentator making so much as a boo hoo over the disgraceful booing, the way it shows a lack of respect to athletes and their countries – It would make you wonder what the opinion would be if it happened at the swimming or maybe the gymnastics? Football will always play by its own rules.

As someone said to me earlier – supporters should be made to take The Olympic Pledge.

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