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Des Kelly: Muhammad Ali was a hero but Tiger Woods is just pants
Published : 22 Mar 2010 07:47:12Rss feed
Icon: Muhammad Ali photographed in 1966 According to the hype, Tiger Woods' impending comeback is worthy of comparison to Ali's spectacular return to the ring 40 years ago. Should anyone voice that ridiculous opinion within earshot, feel free to drag them from their car and beat them lightly about the head with a golf club until they come to their senses. Any court of law will agree you were provoked. Let us examine the evidence. On the one hand we have Ali, a cultural icon, a sportsman who politicised his status as world heavyweight champion, aligned himself with the black power movement and challenged America's attitude to non-whites and the existing social order. An individual who refused to be drafted to the Vietnam War on principle and argued his conversion to Islam had made him a conscientious objector. 'I ain't got no quarrel with the VietCong,' he once declared. 'They never called me n****r. But Ali didn't hide. He turned up for the Army induction ceremony and stubbornly declined to budge when his name was called out on three separate occasions. More from Des Kelly... Des Kelly: Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho IS the Real deal12/03/10 DES KELLY: The latest Fathers 4 Justice hero, is a real comic character05/03/10 DES KELLY: Now will England fans turn on Terry after Bridge withdrawal?26/02/10 DES KELLY: It's Jose vs the world! Italians are fed up with the Inter boss22/02/10 DES KELLY: Inter boss Mourinho is happiest in the role of panto villain...21/02/10 DES KELLY: Premier League? It's more like Last Of The Summer Wine19/02/10 DES KELLY: Portsmouth are cheats, so let them go to the wall12/02/10 DES KELLY: Captain Chav John Terry is now England's Daddy Fool05/02/10 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE For this, he was convicted, sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000, stripped of his heavyweight title and banned from fighting in the USA. 'Overnight he became a n****r again,' said one promoter. While appealing against the verdict, he travelled through America, delivering anti-War speeches at college campuses and protest rallies until 1971, when his sentence was finally overturned in the Supreme Court. But a year earlier, as this controversy was still raging, Ali was given a license to box in Georgia by a sympathetic senator. Swathes of the American public despised his rough, radical politics and desperately wanted him to lose against his white opponent Jerry Quarry. The probability of this happening was high after three years exile from the ring, but Ali stopped Quarry on cuts in front of the world that night and took a giant step back towards rehabilitation in his own land. So, to recap the situation regarding two sportsmen making a return: On the one hand, we had Ali, an individual prepared to throw his life away for something he believed in despite enormous political pressure in a time of conflict and upheaval. Comeback kid: Muhammad Ali (right) stopped Jerry Quarry on cuts during his comeback bout in Georgia, December 1970 On the other, we have a golfer who lost some of his sponsors because he couldn't keep his pecker in his pants. There is no comparison. Woods is returning from his self-imposed exile, not a government ban, because the US Masters in Augusta provides the most exclusive, benign and cosseted environment imaginable in sport. He will not be heckled or jeered. Augusta's ferociously strict membership policy will see to that. For goodness sake, this is a place where even the birds need a permit to chirp in the azaleas. We're told he will need 'courage' out there. Some fear the psychological test could be too much. What tosh. It's as hermetically sealed and controlled an environment as the creepiest Woods confessionalpress conference. Public: Woods ended a self-imposed exile with a press conference (above). He is unlikely to be heckled when he returns to the tour at Augusta (below) This is the one Major that allows him to do what he does best, concentrate solely on himself, play his game, block out the world and talk about very little except the state of greens afterwards. That's no bad thing. I don't want to hear any more about his private life. I don't want to read lurid texts sold to newspapers by the bimbos and porn stars he was dumb enough to mess with. I will, however, quite happily watch him play golf again because he has long been the best. But whatever happens, he's no hero. And he's definitely no Ali. Do you agree with Des? Let us know by leaving a comment at the bottom of the article... Hot air: Rapper P Diddy is reportedly interest in buying Crystal Palace Puff full of hot airRapper P. Diddy claims he is interested in buying Crystal Palace because 'he likes the name'. I hope someone told him it isn't a nightclub. Nor should his liking the name be taken as much of an encouragement either, since we're talking about Sean-John Puff-Daddy Puffy P. Diddy Combs here, or whatever he is calling himself this week. Maybe it might spark a new trend of rapper owners? Next we'll have Jay-Z-MK Dons, So Solid Crewe Alexandra and 50 Cent could buy Portsmouth. For 50 cents. But before anyone gets caught up with the idea that P. Squiddly Diddly, a man who has built a career out of talking over riffs from bands like Led Zeppelin and The Police, is about to become the most ludicrous club figurehead since Flavio Briatore, let us remind ourselvesof something. Two years ago P. Doddery announced he was about to buy a Formula One team. Yes, Bling GP or some such nonsense was sure to happen. Only it didn't. It was just a flash twerp looking for attention. It's a shame as there would have been many laughs to be had watching the Diddy Men at Selhurst Park. But I expect Diddly Squat to come of this, too. Why Formula One needs wateringYou'll find more unexpected movement in Carla Bruni's face than among the cars competing in Formula One, although they both appear to have been subjected to extensive wind tunnel testing. That's the trouble. The cars are so aerodynamically advanced it makes it practically impossible for them to overtake one another as the 'dirty' airflow from the huge rear wings destroys any chance of making a pass. And so the Bahrain Grand Prix, the most eagerly anticipated race in years, was a spectacular anticlimax. Nothing happened. If it did, I must have been asleep, and I speak as someone who loves F1. Procession: Advancements in aerodynamics has made it practically impossible for them to overtake one another as the 'dirty' airflow McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh was among those demanding immediate changes: 'We were one of three teams that said we should have two mandatory pit stops because we were worried about people one stopping.' HOUSE ALWAYS WINSAnd so that historic, two-horse, Cheltenham Gold Cup head-to-head decider between Kauto Star and Denman is won by Imperial Commander. That, ladies and gentlemen, is why bookmakers are rich. So to make a race exciting the cars have to stop? That's missing the point somewhat. They need to be exciting on the track, not in the pit lane. Tinkeringaround the edges won't resolve anything. Far better to have a complete overhaul of the current regulations, impose a re-design to the front and rear wings in order to enhance overtaking, and to do it now. In the meantime, Formula One needs help from above. I don't mean fromBernie Ecclestone, not unless he's brought a stepladder. I mean from the heavens. The Melbourne Grand Prix needs rain. It's the only variable that can add a genuine element of surprise in the current F1 set-up. But if it's sunny, it might be best to watch the highlights. It won't take long. Incredible sulk will end in farceSulking Avram Grant is threatening to wreck the remainder of the Premier League season by fielding a weakened Portsmouth side in their remaining nine matches. With that smiling, happy face of his, Grant said he might only concentrate on the FA Cup after being condemned to the Championship by the nine-point penalty imposed on the club for going into administration. As is his want... or not: Avram Grant has threatened to field weakened teams in the Premier League but history tells us he can expect a fine if he does As long as they are first team squad players, Grant can pick who he likes and prioritise the cup if he chooses. That is his prerogative as Portsmouth manager. Oh, hang on. No it isn't. Because the Premier League stupidly imposeda £25,000 suspended fine on Wolves for using first-team squad players against Manchester United. And so the rulers of the game will now have to fine a bankrupt club for doing it too, the same bankrupt club they have just taken nine points away from for being bankrupt. Nice work everyone. Time for a shift on the continentIt's almost unthinkable, but could this be the first time since 2003 that a Premier League club fails to reach the last four of the Champions League? Arsenal face mighty Barcelona in an encounter that threatens to be pretty enough to stage in an art gallery, but the Spaniards set the benchmark in world football right now. Speed demons: Bayern Munich pair Arjen Robben (left) and Franck Ribery will cause Manchester United a raft of problems in their Champions League clash Manchester United might well be favourites to edge past Bayern Munich, but the Germans are dark horses of the competition and they pose a genuine hazard with Franck Ribery and a fit-again Arjen Robben injecting searing pace to their attacks. Add that United have won just one of seven matches against Munich - famously in 1999 - and this might just be the year when Europe strikes back. Misfiring Jonny Wilkinson announced in his recent newspaper column: 'I was once told that the best way to write a column was to open up with something exciting, an introduction to catch the attention, then set up the piece before building to a strong finish. The way to structure a great game of rugby is, I suppose, not too dissimilar.' As introductions go that was as awful as the rugby has been of late, but you have to admit Wilkinson did serve up a surprising plot twist at the end. And now he has been dropped, he has more time to spend on those column intros, too. When you hear moneymen pontificating about football and pretending they know something, remember this. Burnley appointed Brian Laws as Owen Coyle's replacement after consulting accountants Deloitte and Touche. These financial wizards declared Laws the best man for the job because he was so successful on a budget. Since then, Laws has won one match and collected four points from a possible 30. Lose at Wigan on Saturday and his plight looks so desperate the accountants might have to extract their calculators from somewhere uncomfortable.