BOXING GREAT HONOURED
PHILADELPHIA – Boxing great Muhammad Ali was honoured last night with the Liberty Medal for his longtime role outside the ring as a fighter for humanitarian causes, civil rights and religious freedom.
Hundreds of people gathered on the lawn of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to watch the three-time heavyweight title holder receive an honour that his wife, Lonnie Ali, called “overwhelming”.
“It is especially humbling for Muhammad, who has said on many occasions, ‘All I did was to stand up for what I believe,'” Lonnie Ali said.
The 70-year-old retired champ, hobbled by a 30-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, did not speak. But he stood with assistance to receive the medal from his daughter Laila Ali.
He looked down at his medal for several moments and then waved to the crowd. The award comes with a $100,000 cash prize.
OLYMPIAN QUITS SPORT TO RETURN TO SCHOOL
PARIS – Olympic 4×100 freestyle relay champion Clement Lefert has quit swimming to go back to university, saying he will not be able to make a living out of his sport.
“I have put an end to my career to focus entirely on my studies,” the 24-year-old Lefert said today.
“I did not take this decision overnight. I have been considering it for a while because I always worried about my future.”
Lefert, who also took a 4×200 freestyle relay silver medal at the London Games, said he wanted a bright professional future and had enrolled at business school EDHEC, one of the best in France.
“I want to have a job I like, not one I would not have chosen and I am fully aware that swimming will never make me free from want,” he said.
“I am not Camille Lacourt, Yannick Agnel or Laure Manaudou,” he said, referring to the few French swimmers who clinched lucrative advertising contracts after they won world or Olympic titles.
Manaudou, who was the 2004 Olympic 400m freestyle champion but failed to get into a final in London, gets 1.5 million euros ($1.93 million) a year from sponsors, according to daily newspaper Le Parisien.
By comparison, American swimmer Michael Phelps, the world’s most decorated Olympic athlete, has been earning five to seven million dollars a year since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
IPL DISBANDS DECCAN CHARGERS
CHENNAI – The BCCI has terminated the troubled Deccan Chargers franchise after an emergency IPL governing council meeting in Chennai today. A senior BCCI official said that the tender for a new franchise would be issued tomorrow.
This brings the curtains down on an issue that had dragged on for three-odd months after the team’s owners, Deccan Chronicles Holdings Limited (DCHL), ran into financial problems.
Last month, the banks knocked on the BCCI’s doors to help them out, after which the board had set a deadline of September 15 for Chargers to clear all their dues including player payments and report with a clean slate. However, DCHL said they were unable to sort out the problems and formally placed the team up for sale on September 6.
Earlier this year the franchise bought Darren Bravo at the IPL auction but he never took part in that competition, preferring to play the Test series against Australia. Deccan finished at the bottom of the table during the IPL season.