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Ryder Cup 2012: This could turn nasty like Brookline – Colin Montgomerie

This Ryder Cup could turn nasty… just like the Battle of Brookline, warns Monty

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UPDATED:

21:13 GMT, 23 September 2012

Colin Montgomerie is worried that Europe's golfers could this week face the most hostile atmosphere a Ryder Cup has seen since the infamous events at Brookline 13 years ago.

The man who captained the Continent to victory at Celtic Manor in 2010 is calling for the inevitable patriotic home support at Medinah, just outside Chicago, to be sufficiently restrained that it avoids any repeat of past Ryder Cup excesses, although there is a danger that might not happen.

‘There is a risk,’ he said. ‘I think that what you find is that playing away from home in America when they want it back is a difficult place to play golf and I do hope that everyone realises that and allows the Europeans to play to their potential. Unfortunately, on the Sunday of the Ryder Cup in 1999, that wasn’t available to us.

Patriot games: The USA team runs onto the 17th green in unsavoury scenes at Brookline in 1999 after Justin Leonard holed a putt that all but won the Ryder Cup

Patriot games: The USA team runs onto the 17th green in unsavoury scenes at Brookline in 1999 after Justin Leonard holed a putt that all but won the Ryder Cup

Fever pitch: The intimidating atmosphere at Brookline is infamous

Fever pitch: The intimidating atmosphere at Brookline is infamous

‘I think the world changed — I mean the Ryder Cup and sporting events in which America played internationally — changed after 9/11. America realised we were their allies. But time moves on, everything moves on and I have a slight fear that it is going to be very difficult for us Europeans to perform to our potential.’

Montgomerie, who this year will be there in his role as an analyst with Sky Sports, believes that his successor Jose Maria Olazabal is equipped to cope with the different pressures of being captain in an away match, even if the venue outside Chicago seems the most friendless place.

‘If it does happen we’ve got the best guy in Olazabal to cope with it,’ said Montgomerie. ‘I’ve played four of these Ryder Cups away from home. They are tough, they are harder. He understands that, he’s played four away from home as well so understands that it’s not going to be easy.

‘We’re not just thinking, “We all play in America, Luke Donald lives in Chicago and they like him, and Rory and Lee as well”.

Beware: Even Rory McIlroy won't be spared by the home crowd, says Monty

Beware: Even Rory McIlroy won't be spared by the home crowd, says Monty

‘No, no, this is the Ryder Cup, this is different and we’re not silly enough not to realise this. It’s going to be hard, very hard for everybody to perform to their ability in an atmosphere they haven’t experienced. It will be foreign to a lot of the guys who haven’t played in a Ryder Cup in America before – Francesco Molinari, Peter Hanson, Nicolas Colsaerts – and it is very different.’

Montgomerie offers just one piece of advice to Olazabal — not to go into the match with rigid thoughts. He said: ‘Just one thing that I would say to him is he has to be flexible. You can’t go with say Graeme McDowell playing with Rory McIlroy all the time, you just can’t go with that one scenario, you’ve got to be flexible. I had a problem when I put Ian Poulter with Ross Fisher and it didn’t work that first morning, didn’t ignite any fire, so I had to change them and be flexible.’

Whatever the outside pressures, Montgomerie expects the closest of contests: ‘I think the two teams this year are extremely evenly matched. If you look at the world rankings they are pretty even, the things that they’ve done,’ he said.

‘I therefore would have to take the Americans as slight favourites because of where they’re playing and that’s all. It’s difficult to win there and the last three Ryder Cups have been won by the home teams. I think I would slightly favour by half a point the Americans because of where it’s played.

‘It could even be a tie which would be great because that means we’d retain it.’

Sergio Martinez beats Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr

Marvellous Martinez is the new master after schooling Chavez Jnr in Vegas

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 16 September 2012

Boxing has its successor to the middleweight legend, and the arrival of this late-comer to glory has lifted the hard old game into enlightened belief that there will be life — and money — after Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

Sugar Ray Robinson, Jake LaMotta, Carlos Monzon, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and their illustrious peers will welcome to their ranks the man who is Maravila by nickname and marvellous in every aspect of the blood business.

Sergio Martinez came out to more than 19,000 screaming fans in the Thomas and Mack Center on Saturday as an Argentine matinee idol of cavalier curiosity.

Main man: Sergio Martinez celebrates his victory over WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr

Main man: Sergio Martinez celebrates his victory over WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr

He left as the Nijinsky of the prize-ring: lightning-fast, balletic, nimble, Olympian athletic, laser-precise and Herculean heroic.

Martinez used the first of those many talents to put on a masterclass that won the first 11 WBC rounds against Son of Chavez.

Then he needed the last quality, bravery, in enormous measure to rise from a brutal knock-down and survive one of the most dramatic 12th and final rounds we have witnessed in years.

This handsome darling of the stage-door Julias in Buenos Aires is as theatrical a showman as it is possible to be in world-class sport without self-destructing.

Having taken Julio Cesar Chavez to school — in front of his iconic boxer-father of the same name — for all but three minutes of his quest to be the world’s greatest middleweight, Martinez put his long career’s ambition in jeopardy by going for a dramatic finish.

Cutting it fine: Martinez was floored in the last round but won by unanimous decision

Cutting it fine: Martinez was floored in the last round but won by unanimous decision

Cutting it fine: Martinez was floored in the last round but won by unanimous decision

The late knockout he — and I — had predicted almost happened. Only with him as the victim.

Martinez just had to carry on boxing off Junior’s ears for the last three minutes but delivered the last-act thriller he’d promised, if not the climax he anticipated.

Chavez was given the glimmer of a chance as Martinez chose to engage in a slug-fest against the bigger, heavier, younger man, who landed a four-punch combination that dropped him to the canvas.

Martinez picked himself up, convinced the referee he was fit to continue, held on for a few seconds and then kept swinging away to the inevitable points decision.

The Mexican majority had hoped Chavez was about to follow his father. Julio Snr, when, well behind on every scorecard 22 years ago, knocked out Meldrick Taylor with two seconds left.

On top: Martinez (left) won 11 of the 12 rounds on two of the judges scorecards

On top: Martinez (left) won 11 of the 12 rounds on two of the judges scorecards

His son was left saying: ‘For me, the chance came just a little too late.’ All three judges gave it to Martinez by the width of the Grand Canyon. Two agreed with me at 118-109. The other was one point more generous to Chavez.

Thanks to the inherited courage with which Chavez kept pushing his bloody, swollen face forward, a rematch of enormous financial potential is in the works. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is offering his new super-stadium — and an audience of nigh-on 100,000 — for them to do it again next year. Martinez would feel entitled to fight Mayweather for the title of best pound-for-pound fighter.

That would not have been enforceable had Chavez not given that clubbing indication that he just might be able to stop the man who has taken from him the linear crown he believes should have been his years ago.

On top of the world: New champion Martinez celebrates his win over Chavez Jnr

On top of the world: New champion Martinez celebrates his win over Chavez Jnr

Martinez has, at 37, found fame at a point in his life when most boxers are thinking of retirement.

No world-beating sportsman should be at his peak at so gentrified an age. Martinez, driven by frustration and preserved by total dedication, has maintained pristine condition.

Whatever his secret, he should bottle it. This correspondent would be in the queue of buyers.

JJ Henry leads Reno-Tahoe Open

American Henry improves again to stretch clear of Rocha in Reno

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UPDATED:

07:56 GMT, 5 August 2012

JJ Henry improved his score for the third successive day to take over the lead of the Reno-Tahoe Open.

The American, having picked up 10 points in round one and then 12 on day two, amassed a total of 14 points in the third round to move to the top of the leaderboard on 36 points under the modified Stableford scoring system.

Henry's round included five birdies and an eagle two at the 14th, with his only dropped shot coming at the par-three 16th.

Leading the way: JJ Henry picked up 14 points on Saturday

Leading the way: JJ Henry picked up 14 points on Saturday

In second place at Montreux Golf and Country Club, three points behind Henry, is Brazilian Alexandre Rocha.

Rocha led after the second round with a two-shot lead over American pair Henry and John Mallinger and he continued to make his presence felt near the top of the leaderboard with a nine-point haul.

It would have been even better for the South American but for a bogey on the 17th – his only dropped shot of the round.

Mallinger is third on 32 points after picking up 10 points today while first-day leader Andres Romero of Argentina is fourth a further point back.

England's Gary Christian is joint fifth with two-time major winner John Daly and Bill Lunde while 1997 Open champion Justin Leonard is eighth on 26 points.

Christian, who carded an eagle, four birdies and a bogey in his round, is the only European in the top 10 heading into the final round, but Ireland's three-time major winner Padraig Harrington climbed up to joint 14th on 23 points with a nine-point haul today – his best of the tournament so far.

London Olympics 2012: Let"s hope Ye Shiwen gets what she deserves. Martin Samuel

Let's all hope Ye gets what she deserves…

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UPDATED:

23:25 GMT, 31 July 2012

For arguably the greatest swimmer the world has ever seen it was rather a muted response. No cheers, no roar, little more than polite acknowledgement really.

They are a reserved lot in Beijing, too, so Ye Shiwen probably did not notice. The rest of the sport would have, though. The cynics and believers, the dubious and convinced. Most importantly, those at the heart of the sport — the organisers, the officiators, the other athletes — all would have noticed something missing at 8.45 in the Aquatics Centre.

Faith. Trust. The basic contract between individuals that is the soul of any sporting contest. Once that goes unsigned, competition is meaningless, and here it lay discarded in a puddle on the tiles.

All week the pool has been a wall of sound, but not for the women’s 200metre medley. The excitement surrounding the next event, a men’s freestyle relay, only served to underline the sense of reserve. Michael Phelps became the greatest Olympian in history in that event. He captured imaginations, as sheer brilliance does.

Muted celebration: Ye Shiwen is embraced by Alicia Coutts after her win

Muted celebration: Ye Shiwen is embraced by Alicia Coutts after her win

And Ye should have, too. She is a
marvel, a modern wonder of the world. No less than utterly unique. The
first woman to swim faster than the best man.

Yet that feat was what had shocked
those watching into unease. They did not believe what they had seen
then, so they were not willing to believe what they were seeing now.
After Saturday’s game-changer this was Ye winning well, but winning
ordinary. Doing enough, but no more. Where was the girl who blew away
Ryan Lochte’s final leg here on Saturday night She touched first, in
Olympic record time, but nothing that would register as unusual. Too
late. The genie is out of the bottle now.

The day had been dominated by claim
and counter-claim following John Leonard’s decision to go public on
his disquiet at Ye’s achievement. Executive director of the World
Swimming Coaches Association since 1989, Leonard is no loose-lipped
loudmouth. His questioning of Ye’s 400m medley win at the weekend was
almost forensic.

‘If you look at the woman in question
and her biomechanics in the heats, she has a steady, moderately slow,
six-beat kick,’ he said. ‘All of a sudden in the Olympic final she
turned it up to an eight-beat kick, which any coach will tell you is
very difficult to maintain for 25 metres, let alone 100.’

Double trouble: Ye added to her golden haul with victory in the 200m individual medley

Double trouble: Ye added to her golden haul with victory in the 200m individual medley

The beats refer to the number of kicks
Ye makes with each stroke. It is a rhythm only swimming coaches would
fully comprehend, and its identification carries considerably greater
weight than other markers touted as suspicious, such as the fact Ye
knocked five seconds off her personal best time.

The vested interests organising these
Games do not want it to be remembered for even the hint of a doping
scandal, so they have been playing down Leonard’s observations all day.
Lord Coe and Lord Moynihan have both cited the absence of any evidence
beyond basic scepticism, and they have a point. Proof is required before
judgment is made, although China’s record of failed drugs tests in the
pool does not lean to giving the benefit of the doubt.

Experienced swimmers, from Adrian
Moorhouse to Ian Thorpe, have also insisted that extremes can happen in
the teenage years. Great strides can be made at Ye’s age: 16. But
eight-beats-per-stroke great This is the question with, as yet, no
answer. We are left instead to consider one of life’s maxims: if
something looks too good to be true, that is what it is.

Of course, it is easy to suggest
latent racism or old-fashioned Western arrogance in the doubters, easier
still to buy into envy or baser instincts as the motivation for
cynicism. The same defences were made when Caster Semenya won the 800m
at the World Athletics Championships in a time that made little sense,
given her history. Wild accusations of sexism and anti-African racism
were thrown, but in the end it was Athletics South Africa who were
forced to admit they knew her gender was an issue all along. Leonard
Chuene, the ASA president, resigned.

A force of nature: Ye received muted applause for her achievement

A force of nature: Ye received muted applause for her achievement

It is the numbers, not skin colour or
nationality that causes questions to be asked. At the 2000 Olympics in
Sydney, Inge de Bruijn of Holland won gold medals in the 50 and 100m
freestyle and the 100m butterfly. She broke 10 world records that year.
De Bruijn is white, blonde, statuesque, pretty: after every victory she
was asked about doping.

This was the Olympics after the
pale-skinned Michelle Smith of Ireland had been banned for producing
tainted samples. Swimming feared another crisis. ‘I absolutely do not
think this is a drug-free Olympics,’ said Richard Quick, coach to the
United States women’s team. Susie O’Neill, a gold medallist for
Australia in 1996 and 2000, described De Bruijn’s achievements as
‘pretty sus’.

De Bruijn added to her gold medal
tally in Athens, and has never failed a drugs test. Her record of four
gold, two silver and two bronze medals makes her the greatest Dutch
Olympian. White skin and flaxen hair, however, did not spare her the
inquest because her times were simply considered too special.

Inquest: Inge de Bruijn

Inquest: Inge de Bruijn

So Ye wasn’t special. Not
quite. An Olympic record is special to most, but given what Ye did to
the history books on Saturday this amounted to a doodle, rather than a
scored line through the page. It was almost as if she had been told to
shield a little, to be just a little marvellous instead.

‘I’m not affected at all by the
scandal,’ she said. ‘It made no difference to my race. Training has
been very hard and I need a long break now.’

As if disappearing from view will help. Seasoned observers will say they have seen that before: it is rarely a good sign.

Ye got a better reception receiving
her medal, but considering her achievements at these Games, nothing like
she deserved. We don’t precisely know what she deserves, of course,
that is the problem. We must hope, that if she has not got it already,
she does some time soon.

London 2012 Olympics: Ye Shiwen is not a drugs cheat, says Lord Coe, officials and family

Ye is not a drugs cheat! Lord Coe joins officials and family in backing Chinese sensation

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UPDATED:

18:56 GMT, 31 July 2012

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Both the Olympic and Ye Shiwen's own
family rallied around the Chinese swimming prodigy following suspicions
over her record-shattering performance in the pool.

Ye arguably has proven the sensation
of the Olympics so far after the 16-year-old won gold in the women's 400
metres individual medley on Saturday, taking five seconds off her
personal best and more than a second off the world record.

Record breaker: Ye Shiwen knocked five seconds off her personal best and broke the world record by more than a second as she stormed to gold in the 400m individual medley

Record breaker: Ye Shiwen knocked five seconds off her personal best and broke the world record by more than a second as she stormed to gold in the 400m individual medley

Beaten: Ryan Lochte, pictured, was slower than Ye over the last 50 metres of his own medley race

Beaten: Ryan Lochte, pictured, was slower than Ye over the last 50 metres of his own medley race

However, it is the fact she swam the
final 50m of the freestyle leg of the event in a faster time than men's
champion Ryan Lochte that has really raised eyebrows, with American
coach John Leonard branding her performance 'suspicious', 'disturbing'
and 'unbelievable' and making comparisons with previous doping cases.

Ye has insisted 'there is absolutely
no problem' with her dramatic improvement because the Chinese team
adhered rigorously to anti-doping policies.

Outspoken: Top US swimming coach John Leonard called the feat 'unbelievable'

Outspoken: Top US swimming coach John Leonard called the feat 'unbelievable'

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe said it would be 'very unfair to judge an athlete by a sudden breakthrough'.

He told ITV News: 'What you tend to forget is probably the 10 years of work that has already gone in to get to that point.

'You need to look back through her career. I think you've got to be very careful when you make judgments like that but, yes, it is an extraordinary breakthrough.'

British Olympic Association chairman Lord Moynihan said: 'We know how on top of the game WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] are and WADA have passed her as clean. That's the end of the story.

'And it is regretable there is so much speculation out there.

'I don't like it. I think it is wrong. That athlete or, indeed, any athlete that has never tested positive is an athlete who should be supported by her federation and, indeed, everybody in the Olympic movement.

'Let us recognise that there is an extraordinary swimmer out there who deserves the recognition of her talent in these Games.'

The International Olympics Committee told Ye's critics to 'get real'.

'These are the world's best athletes competing at the very highest level,' IOC communications director Mark Adams said.

'We have seen all sorts of records broken already all over the place.'

He added: 'It is inevitably a sad result of the fact that there are people who dope and who cheat.

'But I equally think it's very sad if we can't applaud a great
performance. Let's always give the benefit of the doubt to athletes.'

Proud: Ye said her success was due to her training since she was identified as a potential champion

Proud: Ye said her success was due to her training since she was identified as a potential champion

Medal winners: Ye Shiwen shows off the gold alongside the United States' Elizabeth Beisel, left, and compatriot Li Xuanxu following the final

Medal winners: Ye Shiwen shows off the gold alongside the United States' Elizabeth Beisel, left, and compatriot Li Xuanxu following the final

Ye's father, Ye Qingsong, told Chinese news portal Tencent that he
accepted it was 'normal for people to be suspicious' but added: 'The
western media has always been arrogant, and suspicious of Chinese
people.'

Jiang Zhixue, who leads anti-doping work at China's General
Administration of Sport, told the country's state news agency Xinhua: 'I
think it is not proper to single Chinese swimmers out once they produce
good results. Some people are just biased.

'We never questioned Michael Phelps when he bagged eight gold medals in Beijing.'

Jiang said China's swimming team had made breakthroughs due to scientific training and sheer hard work.

He added: 'The Chinese athletes, including the swimmers, have undergone nearly 100 drug tests since they arrived here.

'Many were also tested by the international federations and the British
anti-doping agency. I can tell you that, so far, there was not a single
positive case.'

Deputy anti-doping chief Zhao Jian claimed Leonard 'thinks too much',
pointing out China had come down hard on doping since a spate of
problems in the 1990s.

Adams insisted this morning London 2012 had 'a very, very strong drug
testing programme and we are very confident that, if there are cheats,
we will catch them, as we already have done'.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt added that the Games had 'some of the most
rigorous, if not the most rigorous, anti-doping procedures in place for
any Olympics'.

'We've been absolutely determined to make sure that this is the cleanest Olympics ever,' he told the BBC.

In a final, the first five athletes are tested compulsorily along with two others, the IOC said.

Some 1,706 tests have been carried out so far, including 1,344 urine tests and 362 blood tests, the IOC added.

Profile of Ye Shiwen

Profile of Ryan Lochte

Royal Troon to host 2016 Open Championship

Royal Troon given nod to host Open Championship in 2016

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UPDATED:

12:22 GMT, 20 June 2012

Royal Troon will stage the Open Championship for the ninth time in 2016.

Its last hosting of the event was eight years ago when American Todd Hamilton beat South Africa's 2002 champion Ernie Els in a play-off.

Other winners at the course are Arthur Havers (1923), Bobby Locke (1950), Arnold Palmer (1962), Tom Weiskopf (1973), Tom Watson (1982), Mark Calcavecchia (1989) and Justin Leonard, who triumphed in 1997 with a closing 65.

Soon to Troon! The famous old course will host The Open in 2016

Soon to Troon! The famous old course will host The Open in 2016

South Ayrshire Council leader Bill McIntosh said: 'This is great news – not just for Troon, but for the whole of Ayrshire.

'As well as giving us a chance to showcase the fantastic golf in this area, our stunning scenery, culture and heritage, The Open will also bring a terrific economic boost with a 100 million benefit to its host economy.

'This is vital investment for our area that will help create a lasting and positive legacy for generations to come.'

Drink it up: Hamilton celebrates with the Claret Jug in 2004

Drink it up: Hamilton celebrates with the Claret Jug in 2004

Sugar Ray Leonard and Clinton McKenzie interview

In 1976, Sugar Ray Leonard fought Clinton McKenzie at the Montreal Olympics… Sportsmail brought them back together

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 30 May 2012

They greeted each other like long-lost brothers and, to the intents and purposes of proper sportsmen who challenged each other to mortal combat in the prime of youth and lived to re-tell the tale, so they are. Brothers at arms.

Sugar Ray Leonard, the baby-faced darling of American boxing, and Clinton McKenzie, a grizzled but treasured memento of the British ring, recognised each other instantly.

Scroll down to watch a video of Sugar Ray Leonard v Clinton McKenzie

Good to see you! Clinton McKenzie and Sugar Ray Leonard meet up agaiin

Good to see you! Clinton McKenzie and Sugar Ray Leonard meet up agaiin

The sunlit, pastoral calm gracing the
veranda of a golf clubhouse in Southern California is light years from
the rattling tin shed in Canada within which their first, violent
embrace was cheered to the iron rafters. Thirty-six years to be exact.

‘Hey, buddy,’ said Leonard.

‘What’s up, man’ said McKenzie.

They hugged again. For the first time since Jimmy Carter was elected President, since we all kidded ourselves Donna Summer was looking at us when she sang Love To Love You Baby, since Concorde carried its first supersonic passengers to the skies, since petrol cost 70p a gallon and the original Rocky broke box office records.

Genuine, old-fashioned respect. Not today’s nuff gangsta posturing.

With the simple humility of an honest man proud that he won his British title, McKenzie said: ‘Unbelievable to be here. Unbelievable you still look the same.’

To the erudite manner born one of the greatest world champions, Leonard said: ‘I’m glad we have this chance to re-visit our moment in history.’

The chance came courtesy of this newspaper’s build-up for the London Olympics, our expression of the dream which will enchant our capital city two months from now.

Their mutual moment had come in the third round of the light-welterweight tournament at the Montreal Games.

‘Did you think you won’ asked Leonard with a playful slap of the bicep.

‘Oh no, you won all right,’ answered McKenzie, arms waving by way of illustration as he added: ‘You too smooth, too fast.’

Good memories: McKenzie and Leonard relive their fight at the Montreal Olympics

Good memories: McKenzie and Leonard relive their fight at the Montreal Olympics

Leonard, grinning: ‘Didn’t you think you might have got a draw’

McKenzie, abashed: ‘No, no. Too clever for me. I knew you’d go on and win the gold.’

‘Come on, Clinton. It was a good fight.’

‘But not close, Ray. Don’t forget I took a standing eight count in the second round.’

‘I don’t forget,’ said Leonard, putting a kindly arm around him.

Nor does he need to watch the video to remind him how he danced around McKenzie en route to Olympic glory, the lightning left jabs and pinpoint right hooks paving the way for the dazzling combinations which staggered him into that count and cemented the victory.

In fact, Leonard is possessed of extraordinary recall of all the vital events in an epic career which catapulted him from Olympic gold to the legendary fights which won him seven world titles in five weight divisions.

‘I remember all the important fights,’ he says, ‘Vividly. In detail. I studied Clinton like I studied every opponent before a fight, amateur and professional. I saw hardly any flaws in him despite his typical, straight-up European style.

‘He was an accomplished boxer and I was ready for a difficult fight. It helped me that on the day he was not aggressive enough. Too passive. Maybe that’s why (unlike his brother Duke) he never became a world champion.’

Champion: Leonard with his gold medal

Champion: Leonard with his gold medal

An unwitting explanation for that came from McKenzie himself when he told Leonard: ‘All the talk in the Olympic village was about this hot, hot prospect from the US. You. I knew I was going in against a future world champion, a future all-time great. It was an honour for me just to box you.’

A mite overawed he may have been but the Jamaican-born South Londoner helped prime Leonard for one of the most impressive triumphs in the history of Olympic boxing. The final pitted the brightest star of one of the finest US teams ever assembled for the Games against a mighty puncher from the amateur boxing power-house of Cuba.

Andres Aldama had knocked out all his opponents on his way to the final. Head-guards had yet to be introduced and Leonard recalls: ‘He wasn’t just knocking guys out, he was sending them to hospital. He was so impressive that people were beginning to wonder if I’d win the gold after all.’

Oh ye of little faith.

Sugar was anything but sweet that evening. He put Aldama to the sword, knocking him down twice and inflicting an eight count in the punishing course of racking up his fifth maximum 5-0 points win: ‘I’ll never forget the shock on his face and disbelief in his eyes the first time I floored him. He was supposed to be doing that to me but I beat him up.’

When he recovered Aldama vowed to win his gold four years later — and went on to do so by beating John Mugabi in the Moscow final.

Leonard announced his retirement: ‘That’s my last fight. I’ve achieved my ambition and I’m going back to college to get an education.’

That decision was not driven by the sexual abuse he suffered earlier at the hands of an amateur coach, which he bravely revealed in his recent book. He was concerned for his physical well-being and felt fulfilled as boxer.

‘It seemed like we were fighting every night in Montreal. Maybe there was the odd day off but really so little recovery time. It was hard. I needed a long lie in a hot tub every night and had to go to hospital for my badly swollen hands.’

Then this still-boyish wonder articulated the enormity of the Games: ‘I’d reached what I felt was my ultimate goal. Winning gold for me and my country.

‘The Olympics meant everything to me. Going through them is like nothing else you will ever experience. For those few weeks you are in another world. At that point I couldn’t see how there could ever be anything better.’

We meet again: McKenzie (left) with Leonard and Sportsmaill's boxing correspondent Jeff Powell

We meet again: McKenzie (left) with Leonard and Sportsmaill's boxing correspondent Jeff Powell

McKenzie, his own memories stirred, became emotional: ‘I loved the Olympics. I loved being with our team (little big man Charlie Magri et al). I loved every minute. Even loved losing to this man.’

Leonard smiled: ‘Hey, how many kids you got buddy’

McKenzie blushed: ‘Six.’

Leonard, hugging him again: ‘See, you beat me at that. Me, four.’ There they stood, the twin pillars of the Games. The triumph and the ecstasy in parallel with the simple beauty of taking part.

Leonard: ‘For me it was gold or nothing. I wouldn’t let anything stop me.’

McKenzie: ‘Of course I was trying to win but I was so proud just to be there, boxing for Britain. Always will be.’

It took a sharp dose of economic reality to jolt Leonard into turning pro.

As a handsome Olympic hero he was expecting to fund his new family and his quest for a degree with commercial sponsorship. But the ad-men did not cometh: ‘I suddenly realised that in 1976 corporate America was not ready for a black athlete.

‘Boxing at the time also carried a stigma. It was brutal and mob-related. There was no place for my picture on the cereal box. But it made me accept that I was pre-destined to be a fighter.’

Boxing clever: Leonard (left) beats Limazov Valbry at the Montreal Olympics

Boxing clever: Leonard (left) beats Limazov Valbry at the Montreal Olympics

Not that the transition was easy, not even for this genius of the ring: ‘Amateur boxing is all blazing away, throwing punches almost non-stop. As a young pro you have to learn that it’s about selection of punches — throwing the right punch at the right time for the right reason.

‘It’s physically tougher but at the same time mentally more demanding. You need strategy to set up the opponent.’

The most sensational example of that came in the 1980 re-match with Roberto Duran which followed defeat in their first fight: ‘I changed from standing and fighting him to hitting and moving, hitting and moving.’

After seven rounds of ‘pow-voom-pow-voom’ Leonard taunted Duran by pretending to wind up a right-hand bolo punch only to snap his head back with a stiff left jab.

Throughout, he had been tormenting Duran by dropping his hands and inviting him to hit his chin. One of the toughest — but on this night the most humiliated — of fighters turned his back seconds before the end of the eighth and famously told the referee ‘no mas’.

There was talk of a stomach bug but Leonard knew what had happened and had to smile as he said: ‘What he couldn’t really stomach was being messed about. He was a great fighter but I p****d him off.’

Not that he recommends the tactic to aspiring boxers: ‘Sticking your chin out with your hands hanging down is dangerous. High risk.

Gather round: McKenzie (far left) with his fellow boxers at the Olympics

Gather round: McKenzie (far left) with his fellow boxers at the Olympics

‘Your Naseem Hamed used to do it and I loved how he won that thriller against Kevin Kelley with all those knock downs in Madison Square Garden. But he didn’t have the basics of the game and when he tried it with Marco Antonio Barrera the game was up.’

Leonard also found ways to beat Wilfred Benitez, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns during the golden age of welter-to-middleweight boxing. Sometimes controversially, always brilliantly.

Over lunch in Las Vegas a few days before Ray met Clinton here in LA, we were joined by Hearns’ brother. They reminisced about the first fight, a unanimous decision by which Leonard unified the world welterweight titles.

Then talk turned to the re-match, which many thought Leonard lost but was scored as a draw. John Hearns asked: ‘What did you say to my brother when you whispered in his ear after they announced the result’

Leonard: ‘I told Tommy he won. He asked if I would tell everyone else but I said, “Hell no, it’s not the time”. But I told the world later.’

Hearns: ‘Our family grieved forever after that fight.’

Leonard: ‘Tell them to stop, I love Tommy. Tell him to change it to a win on his record.’

So close: McKenzie (right) lands a punch on Puerto Rico's Ismael Martinez in Montreal

So close: McKenzie (right) lands a punch on Puerto Rico's Ismael Martinez in Montreal

Leonard and McKenzie re-visited not only each other but the galaxy of fights in which one was magnificently engaged and the other watched with admiration from afar.

‘Thank god you didn’t quit after the Games,’ said McKenzie. ‘What a loss to boxing that would have been.’

Later in his career, Leonard made something of a habit of retiring and coming back.

He finally gave up the hard old game for good in 1997, aged 40. McKenzie, a year the elder, hung up the gloves eight years earlier after failing for the second time to win a European title.

Retiring is always a problem for boxers so how do they know when it really is time to go

‘You lose that edge,’ says McKenzie. ‘One day it’s not there. You think you can get it back but you can’t. All over.’

Leonard: ‘The time to stop is when the other guy hits you more than you hit him.’

Do they miss it

‘Yeah,’ says Clinton with a shrug.

‘I don’t miss getting hit,’ says Sugar Ray. ‘But what a time I had. And what a time it was. And what an amazing life it’s given me. I became a celebrity and that’s fine because I enjoy people. I’ve got my foundation which lets me help folk who are struggling. I’m happy. Oh, and I’ve got my golf.’

A warm, generous man, Leonard cut this particular round short as soon as he knew McKenzie had arrived: ‘Don’t worry, Clinton. It wasn’t going well.’

Close friends: Leonard and McKenzie

Close friends: Leonard and McKenzie

He plays off 14, but mostly for the pleasure: ‘Never had a lesson. Never want any more sports coaching.

‘I suppose I was always a natural. And I’ve got the plaque to prove I’m not bad on my day.’

That sign, at the difficult Tour Players Championship course in Summerlin, Las Vegas, records his hole-in-one there: ‘They had it inscribed and up on the clubhouse wall before I finished my round.’

That’s fun. But so was boxing, violent though it could be: ‘Muhammad Ali changed the world but so, in our way, did me and Marvin and Roberto and Tommy. We showed that boxing is not only about the heavyweights.’

Leonard accepts that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are playing their part now but is as disappointed as all of us by their failure thus far to fight each other: ‘Floyd should stop worrying about his unbeaten record. The public don’t give a damn. They want to see the best fight each other.

‘I would give a narrow edge to Mayweather but I wouldn’t bet my house on it because he doesn’t like southpaws and Pacquiao would throw more leather than he’s ever had to face.

‘Don’t be fooled by the trouble Manny’s had with (Juan Manuel) Marquez. Every boxer finds at least one other guy’s style awkward. Even Ali struggled against Ken Norton. In my time, the rest of us had to deal with Tommy being so incredibly tall at the weight.

Would the Money Man and the Pacman have coped with Sugar and the old gang

‘No,’ said McKenzie.

‘Well,’ said Leonard with another smile, ‘that’s always tough to answer but I don’t think so. They’re little guys and they would have needed a step-ladder to reach Tommy.

‘They are very good and have some interesting fights. But we all took on each other. If Mayweather never fights Pacquiao he will have to live with that for the rest of his life.

‘I watched Floyd against Miguel Cotto the other night and it was a nice fight. But do you know what it didn’t have that we had

‘The magic.’

Our day in the sun was quite magical, too.

McKenzie dressed snazzily for the occasion in one of his zoot-suit throwbacks to the jazz age. Leonard hurried off the course in his golf gear.

McKenzie does not play golf. He continues to trade on his charisma and (still) fast hands at his gym deep in south London, where he is looking for another rising star while offering personal training services.

Their lives took differing paths but now their history is re-joined. It was a delight to watch them stroll together down memory lane. A privilege to share the moment.

Sport as it forever should be. Olympian.

Jeff Powell: Sugar Ray Leonard v Marvin Hagler – Debate rages on

Leonard v Hagler – 25 years later and the great debate rages on

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UPDATED:

22:18 GMT, 9 April 2012

The first time I saw Marvin Hagler after he lost to Sugar Ray Leonard was when he strolled into Harry's Bar on Rome's Via Veneto with his pet poodle.

He looked as Marvellous as ever but he was no longer interested in fighting. He was happy living in Italy and acting in movies.

Hagler had not boxed since that over-heated night in Las Vegas – and never would again – but he was still ready to argue his corner.

'I believe I beat Sugar Ray,' he said. 'Always will.'

Scroll down to watch a video of the fight

Close call: Sugar Ray Leonard was awarded the victory against Marvin Hagler

Close call: Sugar Ray Leonard was awarded the victory against Marvin Hagler

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Jeff Powell: Big fight with little interest but a British boxer has a chance to KO Klitschko
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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

This weekend, a quarter of a century later, the debate was raging all over again.

Come this 25th anniversary of the split decision which divided worldwide opinion, the hard old game has still not found the answer to these controversies.

The last few months have been riddled with protests about judging, with Amir Khan's loss of his world light-welterweight titles to Lamont Peterson the most fractious of several involving British boxers.

But none have been disputed so vehemently as Hagler-Leonard at Caesars Palace on April 6, 1987.

With Leonard coming out of a three-year retirement – prematurely enforced by a detached retina in his right eye – and having boxed only once in the two years before that, Hagler was the 3-1 on favourite to retain his world middleweight title.

Leonard's insistence on the new-fangled championship distance of 12 rounds – instead of 15 – convinced Hagler that his celebrated challenger would be short on stamina.

What Hagler was not to know was that Leonard had prepared not only with orthodox sparring but in full-on fights behind closed doors, complete with referee, time-keeper, 10-ounce gloves and no head-guards.

The ring rust had been shaken off. So much so that Leonard easily won the first two rounds.

There had been much discussion about the contrast in styles – Hagler the big-hitting counterpuncher, Leonard quick and elusive with his flashy combinations.

Standing firm: Hagler remains convinced he beat Leonard

Standing firm: Hagler remains convinced he beat Leonard

Hagler, a southpaw, tried to spring a surprise by starting with an orthodox left lead. But after losing those opening rounds he reverted to his natural stance from the third onwards.

Thereafter those who had paid their ticket money had to make their choice between Hagler the self-pronounced bull and Leonard the matador.

Leonard was accused by some of staging a grand illusion by stealing rounds he did not deserve with attention-catching flurries, the quickness of his hands deceiving the eyes of the judges.

Hagler, who was at his best picking off opponents who came forward, was perceived by others as being exposed as a one-dimensional plodder by Leonard's speeding hit-and-run tactics.

Both those extreme views did a disservice to fighters who were very different but equally great, in their own way.

Hagler, teased and tormented into becoming the aggressor, was often caught on the way in yet still connected with some damaging punches which rocked Leonard, notably in the fifth and ninth.

Leonard, who had planned to attack in hope of exploiting Hagler's occasional vulnerability to cuts, adapted like the natural showman he was, dancing out of trouble and often clipping the champion as he eeled away.

It was a classic match-up, even if Hagler was slightly past his prime at coming up 32 while Leonard, at 29, had been inactive, at least publicly, for so long.

All mine: Leonard celebrates his win in Las Vegas

All mine: Leonard celebrates his win in Las Vegas

There were times, when he changed gear to go on the offensive, when Leonard hit and then blatantly held Hagler but referee Richard Steele declined to deduct a point even though he issued no fewer than 30 warnings.

The fight ended with them furiously exchanging punches on the ropes.

At the bell, Hagler raised his arms in expected triumph. Leonard, fatigued by all his ring movement, sank to the canvas initially but then stood to gesture his claim to victory.

And so to the scorecards. Judge JoJo Guerra was vilified for his 118-110 in favour of Leonard but explained: 'He outpunched, outsmarted and out-boxed Hagler. He dominated by making Hagler come to him and miss and then counter-punching.'

Judge Lou Filippo, who scored it 115-113 for Hagler, said: 'He was doing all the work with his aggression and body shots. Leonard only fought in spurts.'

Watch the final round of this epic battle

Judge Dave Moretti, 115-113 for Leonard, said: 'Obviously Hagler was the aggressor but he was not effective. You can't chase and get hit, then chase and get hit by the harder punches and get the credit.'

Ironically respected British referee Harry Gibbs privately scored it for Hagler, whose team had rejected him as a potential judge. The majority of British commentators went for Hagler.

The pundits from the major American media outlets at ringside voted by six to five in favour of Leonard, with three scoring it a draw.

The official stats counted Hagler throwing most punches,792 to Leonard's 629, but Leonard landing more, 306 against 291.

On my irrelevant card I had Leonard winning by one point, 115-114.

A narrow victory for intelligence over power, with his last-minute decision to draw Hagler out of his comfort zone and onto his slippery counter-punching just giving him the edge.

Leonard smiled: 'I had fun out there.'

Then he retired again, instantly vacating the title. But unlike Hagler – who demanded an immediate re-match but then declined the offer when it came three years later – he was to make the U-turn into a comeback twice more.

Hagler bowed out with a growl: 'He fought like a girl. His punches didn't count.'

Unfortunately for him they did, by the narrowest of margins.

How close was it Very. And when a fight is that close it's really too close to argue with the result. Well, only for 25 years and counting.

And when all is said and done, these disputed decisions are part of prize-fighting, part of the fascination, part of the life-blood of this bleedin' old game.

'Happy' Fury planning for Klitschkos

Tyson Fury

Tyson Fury, five stones lighter and with the burden of depression lifted by his infant son's survival of a life-threatening respiratory ailment, goes to Belfast on Saturday to fight not so much for the Irish heavyweight title as for a world championship shot at one of the Klitschko brothers.

This clash with Martin Rogan was not the preference for Fury (right) but as a member of the travelling community he is making the trip with an eye to where it might lead thereafter.

He also goes into it saying: 'What happened with my boy has put my life in perspective. Made me appreciate what is really important and happy with everything I have.'

He also believes he will be ready for Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko – both of whom are reviewing potential challengers at the moment – after this fight.

Fury v Rogan will be live on Channel 5 on Saturday night.

Groves relishing German test

George Groves, having pulled out of a re-match with Kenny Anderson, has landed a challenge for the world super-middleweight title against Robert Stieglitz in Germany on May 5.

This, after only 15 pro fights including the grudge victory over fellow Brit and Olympic champion James DeGale.

Sitieglitz will be making his fifth defence of the WBO belt in this, his 44th professional fight.

Bring it on: George Groves is looking forward to fighting Robert Stieglitz

Bring it on: George Groves is looking forward to fighting Robert Stieglitz

But he has been stopped twice in his career and is the most vulnerable of the world champions in this division.

So let us hope the likeable and improving Groves does not go the way of Amir Khan, Darren Barker, Martin Murray and Matthew Macklin, twice, among British fighters beaten in recent world title fights away from home.

Groves says: 'Stieglitz is a great fighter but I believe I have the attributes to beat him.'

Indeed he may. But if he does bring home the title he would be wise to gather more experience by defending it, rather than taking on just yet the other world champions at super-middleweight, Andre Ward and Lucien Bute or Carl Froch.

Stieglitz-Groves will be live on BoxNation (via Sky Channel 456) on Saturday May 5.

Fabrice Muamba news: PFA have spent 5m on tests

We've spent 5m on tests since Marshall tragedy

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UPDATED:

22:02 GMT, 19 March 2012

Tested: Muamba had at least four scans

Tested: Muamba had at least four scans

Saturday was a terrible day for everybody and serves as a very strong reminder of our duty of care.

In the early Nineties we became aware of what is known as sudden death syndrome in young and apparently fit men, particularly after John Marshall, the Everton youth team footballer, died suddenly from a heart defect aged just 16 in 1995.

Since then we have spent more than
5million – about 300,000 a year – on a nationwide screening programme
to try to ensure this never happens. It was a programme brought in under
Dr Leonard Shapiro, a very famous cardiologist from Cambridge, in
conjunction with the FA’s medical department.

Players have their first screening when
they sign a contract aged 16. As well as that, any player coming into
the professional game from abroad has an electrocardiogram (ECG) and it
is also part of the UEFA criteria now – a club will not get a UEFA
licence unless they have screened their players that year.

Tribute: A Bolton shirt left outside the Reebok Stadium on Monday

Tribute: A Bolton shirt left outside the Reebok Stadium on Monday

How often players are subsequently screened is up to the individual club – most Premier League clubs do it on an annual basis. If any player wants a screening we will accommodate that, and if the medical staff want any senior player tested on a regular basis that can also be arranged under the PFA.

We have comprehensive medical records on every player – Fabrice Muamba had at least four scans. Even in cases where there is a diagnosis, it can be very difficult for youngsters and parents to find out they have a condition. Then comes the dilemma of whether to continue in the sport or not.

Tragedy: Muamba is treated on the pitch on Saturday

Tragedy: Muamba is treated on the pitch on Saturday

There’s also been a long process of getting club doctors and physios present at every game with an expertise in emergency procedure. There is now a compulsory training course set up by the Royal College of surgeons in Edinburgh called the Advanced Resuscitation and Emergency Aid course (AREA).

Tottenham will have supplied Bolton with information on the nearest hospital, average journey times, the qualifications of the first-team doctor and the location of all the equipment.

There cannot be enough praise for the medical teams of both clubs and all we can hope for now is good news.

Harry Redknapp not guilty: Spurs boss clear for England

Free at last! Five-year ordeal is over for Redknapp… is he now destined for England

Harry Redknapp is free to head back to his Dorset home and enjoy dinner with his wife, free to take training at Tottenham for the first time in two-and-a-half weeks . . . and free to become the next England manager should the FA choose to pursue him.

After spending just five hours deliberating, the jury at Southwark Crown Court cleared Redknapp and Milan Mandaric of all the charges of tax evasion on Wednesday.

The multi-millionaire former Portsmouth chairman had not tried to cheat the public purse of 15,473 when he made that first payment into the then Portsmouth manager’s Monaco bank account — just as Redknapp, at that time earning almost 2million a year, had not tried to save himself 30,723 in income tax

Outside court: Harry Redknapp addresses the media after being found not guilty of tax evasion

Outside court: Harry Redknapp addresses the media after being found not guilty of tax evasion

All over: Redknapp (left) leaves Southwark Crown Court after being cleared of all chargesAll over: Redknapp (left) leaves Southwark Crown Court after being cleared of all charges

All over: Redknapp (left) leaves Southwark Crown Court after being cleared of all charges

With each passing day it felt more and more like a ridiculous trial. When the four verdicts of ‘not guilty’ were returned, the two men who were likened this week to Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon’s Odd Couple hugged in the witness box.

In the public gallery Redknapp’s son, Jamie, reported the news back home on his mobile phone. He had been in court with his father every one of the 13 days, had been reduced to an emotional wreck during the five-and-a-half hours his father spent on the stand, but the father and son were soon embracing once Judge Anthony Leonard had told the two defendants they could go.

For Redknapp this was not just the end of a gruelling, gut-wrenching trial. It was the end of a ‘nightmare’; a four-and-a-half-year investigation into his financial affairs — eight if you include the civil tax inquiry into a 300,000 payment he received from West Ham when Rio Ferdinand moved to Leeds United.

His house was raided by police one morning when he was returning from a scouting trip, terrifying his wife Sandra. The raid was led by the same policeman he turned on in court last week and whom Mandaric made a point of addressing politely at the end of the trial.

As those closest to Redknapp said, the fear of a guilty verdict, of ending with a term in jail, was never far from his mind.

Nervous times: Redknapp was again joined by his son, Jamie (left), as the two-week case reached its climax

Nervous times: Redknapp was again joined by his son, Jamie (left), as the two-week case reached its climax

Even after guiding Tottenham to the Champions League and victories over Inter and AC Milan, the joy would soon give way to the terrifying prospect of justice not being done. There was nothing anyone could say to ease those fears, not even when John Kelsey-Fry, his brilliant defence QC, told him over dinner on Tuesday that he was supremely confident of victory.

Redknapp did not sleep a wink in his London hotel and, as he waited for the jury to return, a friend said the 64-year-old was trembling with fear. On Wednesday, he said he was hugely appreciative of the support he received from Richard Bevan, the League Managers Association chief executive who had been in court most days.

HARRY'S SUPPORT ON TWITTER

Rio Ferdinand: Great to see Harry cleared of any wrong doing over 'tax evasion'. Glad for him + the Redknapp family.

Phil Neville: Great to see Harry Redknapp cleared of tax evasion

Michael Vaughan: Give Harry the England job now… #notguilty

But Kelsey-Fry was right and, shortly after 11.30am, Redknapp emerged from the ordeal with his reputation intact. He was cleared of any wrongdoing in that civil tax inquiry, just as he was acquitted on Wednesday. There is no stain on Redknapp’s character; nothing that can be held against him. As he told the police and the News of the World reporter who rang him 48 hours before the 2009 Carling Cup final, ‘you’ll find nothing on me’.

It means Redknapp can return to the role he performs with such distinction; that of a football manager with the ability to get the best out of the teams he skilfully creates.

Under Redknapp, West Ham finished fifth in the Premier League; under Redknapp Portsmouth not only established themselves in the top flight but also won the FA Cup; and under Redknapp Tottenham have their finest team in decades; a team challenging the might of Manchester in this season’s title race and, in the opinion of Sir Alex Ferguson, playing the best football in England.

Gone: Fabio Capello quit as England boss, paving the way for Redknapp to take over the reigns

Gone: Fabio Capello quit as England boss, paving the way for Redknapp to take over the reigns

It is for that reason this Englishman should be the first person the FA turn to in their search for a successor to Fabio Capello. After what Redknapp has been through, no aspect of the England job will worry him.

He was exhausted on Wednesday, and understandably so after what was the biggest corruption case in modern English football. It offered a fascinating insight into the lives of the two men and provided lighter moments too.

THE THINGS HE SAID…

I am a fantastic football manager, not a hard-headed businessman. I’ve got no business acumen whatsoever

— Redknapp gives evidence and denies dodging tax.

You think I put my hand on the Bible and told lies That’s an insult, Mr Black, that’s an insult

— The manager fights back tears as he responds to prosecutor John Black’s accusation that he told ‘a pack of lies’.

If she was half as nice as Rosie he’s got a good wife

— Redknapp is asked about another HSBC Monaco account named Rosie, which was his dog’s name.

Mr Manley, will you please stop staring at me. I know you are trying to cause me a problem, OK

— Redknapp interrupts his evidence to vent his anger at Detective Inspector Dave Manley.

I don’t have to tell Mr Beasley the truth. I have to tell police the truth, not Mr Beasley, he’s a News of the World reporter

— The defendant is cross-examined about misleading journalist Rob Beasley.

‘They’re amazing these legal people,’ whispered Redknapp at one stage as he looked across to the prosecution bench. ‘They’re so nice to you, all polite, and then suddenly they try to kill you.’

It was classic Redknapp, and there were other such moments as the story of a football man who had been anything but a ‘hard-headed businessman’ unfolded. It was the story of a life away from football that sounds a little chaotic, with millions seemingly squandered on impulsive business deals.

His now deceased bulldog Rosie became the most famous canine on the planet for the duration of the trial, that being the name he used for the account in Monaco. The 47 was not, as one television journalist is said to have remarked, a reference to the year the dog was born but the year its master was born.

Redknapp had the jury in stitches at times, not least when reflecting on the possibility that another ‘Rosie’ account in Monaco might have been named after somebody’s wife. ‘If she was half as nice as Rosie he’s got a good wife,’ Redknapp mused.

Leading the prosecution, John Black QC wasted no time in referring to the dirtiest word in football. That ‘f*****g sick word’ as Redknapp put it in the taped interview with News of the World reporter Rob Beasley. Black said the payments amounted to a ‘bung’. The court heard how two payments, totalling $295,000, were the product of a dispute over the transfer of Peter Crouch from Portsmouth to Aston Villa in 2002.

Redknapp had demanded 10 per cent of the net profit from the transfer because that had been the terms of his contract as the director of football when he recruited Crouch. Those terms changed when he became manager and Redknapp was due five per cent.

Decision day: Harry Redknapp arrives at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday

Decision day: Harry Redknapp arrives at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday

Cash trail: One charge related to money from the sale of Peter Crouch to Aston Villa

Cash trail: One charge related to the profits made by the sale of Peter Crouch to Aston Villa in 2002

But he complained to Mandaric he should have received 10 per cent when that was what he would have been due when Crouch was signed from QPR. Despite Redknapp calling the $295,000 deposited into his Monaco account ‘a bonus’ in the interview Beasley taped without Redknapp’s knowledge — a tape central to the Crown’s case — the physical evidence only ever pointed to an investment Mandaric made for his ‘special friend’.

As Kelsey-Fry said: ‘Harry Redknapp’s voluntary disclosure of the Monaco account was the “acid test” that it was not, as the prosecution claim, a secret, and what did he do with the money For six years, until 2008, he did absolutely nothing. When Mr Redknapp moved in 2003 he never even bothered to tell the bank holding his secret nest egg.’

The court also heard evidence from Nigel Layton, the managing director of Quest when Lord Stevens enlisted their services to conduct the inquiry into Premier League transfers between January 1, 2004 and January 31, 2006.

The Premier League paid the best part of 1m for the ‘bungs inquiry’ and the sketchy nature of Layton’s evidence — he struggled to recall the precise details of meetings with Redknapp and his representatives — was more than a little surprising.

Layton did, however, confirm that Redknapp voluntarily revealed Rosie 47 in November 2006, despite the fact that ‘Quest had no power whatsoever to force disclosure’.

While Quest were satisfied with the information they received from Redknapp, they still passed on the information to the City of London Police. Not that the police mentioned that to Redknapp during their interviews. They did not mention that they were in possession of the Beasley interview tapes either.

Old pals: Redknapp with his former chairman Mandaric during their days at Portsmouth

Old pals: Redknapp with his former chairman Mandaric during their days at Portsmouth

As the trial progressed, it emerged Redknapp had walked away from a 140,000 pay-off when he resigned as Portsmouth manager in 2004, insisting he did not ‘want their money’ after an acrimonious split with Mandaric.

‘Now why am I going to fiddle 30 grand in income tax and then walk away from 200 (he could not recall the exact figure) grand six months later’ said Redknapp.

Perhaps the most poignant moment was when the court heard Redknapp telling the police of the problem he has writing and spelling. ‘Like a two-year-old,’ he said, before confessing not being able to fill out a teamsheet. Jamie Redknapp was shaken by the sight of his father being laid bare in such a manner.

The darkest moment had to be when Redknapp turned on Det Insp David Manley. ‘Mr Manley, will you stop staring at me,’ he said. ‘I know you are trying to cause me a problem.’

Redknapp endured the accusation from Black that he was ‘telling a pack of lies’. ‘That is an insult,’ Redknapp replied, and on Wednesday, the jury agreed that it was.

Now give him the England job.