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Sport

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GREAT SPORTING EVENTS

IN THIS MONTH – September

Year – 1960

Location – Rome, Italy

Occasion – Games of the XVII Olympiad

Event – Final of the Boxing Light heavyweight Division

Competitors – Zbigniew Pietrzykowski (Poland) vs Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr (USA)

The 1960 Olympic Games in Rome are regarded today as one of the greatest Olympic occasions in history. Awash with talent from all around the world and held in one of the greatest cities in the world, Rome beat out Lausanne, Detroit, Brussels, Mexico City and Tokyo for the rights to host the games.

A total of 83 nations participated at the Rome Games with athletes from south Asian countries such as India and Pakistan also in the mix picking up three medals between them including a gold medal for the latter country in the men’s hockey competition.

But the Rome Olympic games will always be remembered for one athlete who went on to become arguably the greatest sports personality ever to walk the planet.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, USA on January 17, 1942, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr (later known as Muhammad Ali) was a very active child and at the age of twelve started training at the local police station under the guidance of police officer and boxing coach John E. Martin after he complained to the coach that somebody had stolen his bicycle and he wanted to “whup” the boys who had taken it. Quickly realizing the potential and determination to succeed by the youngster, Martin coached the young Clay who went on to win six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two National Golden Gloves titles and an Amateur Athletic Union National Title within six years. His next destination was the Rome Olympics and the brash eighteen year old was now full of confidence often predicting the results in advance. Clay started well in the second round of the competition stopping his opponent Yvon Becot from Belgium in round two with a devastating knockdown. The quarter final was a sterner test and Clay was forced to go the full distance against the durable Gennadiy Shatkov from Russia. Eventually Clay’s speed and flamboyancy easily outpointed his game opponent 5-0 on the scorecards. The semi-final was once again a tricky affair against the tough Australian, Anthony Madigan. Clay started well often confusing his opponent with his long, sharp jab and quick foot speed leaving Madigan desperate to land his trademark left hook in the hope of stopping his opponent. Unfortunately for Madigan he could only hit thin air and Clay went on to win on points 5-0. Clay’s opponent in the final was the experienced Polish boxerZbigniew Pietrzykowski. A bronze medal winner at the previous Olympic Games held in Melbourne four years earlier, the former light middleweight boxer was odds on favorite to win the gold medal. Pietrzykowski was seen by many as too experienced and too strong for his younger opponent and at the first bell he started by bullying Clay with body shots and right hooks. By round two Clay settled into his momentum picking his opponent off with precise jabs often coupled with powerful shots to the body. Clay would eventually wear down his opponent and dominate the fight to win 5-0 on the judge’s scorecards. Celebrating with his trademark shuffle (later known as the Ali shuffle) with both arms aloft, a new star was born.

After changing his name to Muhammad Ali in 1964, he would go on to become the greatest boxer of all time and the first boxer in history to win the World Heavyweight title on three different occasions (between 1964 – 1978) fighting some of the greatest boxers the sport has ever seen including the likes of Sonny Liston, Henry Cooper, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Larry Holmes.

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ENTER THE CAGE

Every month, the Leeds Cage will be writing a column in the Urban Echo highlighting the growing trend of mixed martial arts. Whether you are a fan of MMA, UFC or even WWE, Leeds Cage will be giving training tips and fighting techniques for all aspiring mixed martial artists. Keep the fighting in the cage!

Leeds Cage is the culmination of many years training and there are many gyms in different locations around West Yorkshire under many different names. At Leeds Cage we have been at our present location for over six years and we have every intention of staying here with two large matted areas, a cage, a ring, weights and conditioning equipment. When someone first enters the gym, they instantly feel the atmosphere, the feeling of being in an old school fighter’s gym. The people that train are friendly and devoid of ego as they wish to work hard and learn and develop their skills. We are relaxed and the joking and casual banter knows no bounds. One can say anything and if it’s with good humour and no malice, it’s all cool at the cage, just like it should be.

My name is John C. Higo and l am the chief instructor, but personally l prefer the term ‘coach’. My coaching responsibilities are shared with my good friends Faisal Nathani, Neil Longthorne and Michael Rodgerson and together we make a good solid team. My own martial arts journey started many years ago when I had my first fight in the ring in 1968 at the tender age of twelve. I started as a boxer and trained until 1972. From there l went into karate and Atemi-Jitsu until 1976 and later kickboxing, or as we then called it, full contact karate. The kickboxing style was similar to boxing but with the inclusion of kicks above the waist. This became my passion and was deemed at the time to be the combat sport of the future. Over the years l competed on many occasions and enjoyed every minute of it. We didn’t get paid and on some days we actually had to pay to take part whilst working full time to feed the family. We were not looking at turning professional as we did it because we liked to fight and train martial arts. l suppose it was guys like me that laid the bedrock of what the sport could be and l do not regret that money wasn’t made available then as my aim was to be a good martial artist / fighter and nothing more.

I constantly hear that the Leeds Cage is a cage fighting gym! Nobody in our sport refers to this art form as ‘Cage fighting’. We train Mixed Martial Arts and our aim is to become proficient at all ranges of unarmed combat. Mixed martial arts is not just for people who wish to compete as I see it as a fitness regime for anyone and everyone. It is interesting, technical and self-challenging and something you can continue training most of your life. I do often say that martial arts is a mirror that helps you see the real you! Through hard physical challenging training, you really do get to see what you are made of. Your flaws and your positive points are identified in the process and once you realise the pros and cons, only then can you address them to become a better you!

Next month we will go more into depth about mixed martial arts with fitness tips and the basics of entering the cage with physical and mental training.

John C. Higo

Chief Instructor, Leeds Cage

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PREMIERE LEAGUE ROUNDUP

After the whirlwind Premier League campaign last year, 2014/2015 is promising to provide the same exhilarating drama to the very last game of the season. But who will win? Who will go down? Who will shine? Many believe these questions will be answered during the transfer window. So far, with Luis Suárez completing his Spanish dream move to Barcelona. The Spanish international, Cesc Fabregas signing a five-year deal at Stamford Bridge. Ander Herrera completing his move to Manchester United from Athletic Bilbao, and Arsenal recently confirming the signing of Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez. The upcoming Premier League season promises to be nothing short of the talent and drama we all witnessed last campaign. Watching Suárez perform week in week out, expecting him to deliver yet still being astonished by the delivery, kept Anfield enthralled. He provided hope during Liverpool’s dark times, the near-administration days of Tom Hicks and George Gillett. It is an understatement to suggest Liverpool won’t miss him; however their success will depend on how well they re-group and create a team spirit after arguably the third best player in the world leaving their team. On the other hand, it seems as though Arsenal have solved the problem which Liverpool have now created for themselves. Big clubs always need exceptional players, but the truth is that Ozil did not solve any of their most pressing problems. Arsenal have been crying out for a top-class centre forward since the departure of Robin van Persie to Manchester United and Alexis Sanchez could be just that. The 25-year-old Chilean provides goals, having scored 21 times for Barcelona last season, he also provides incredible pace, something which Arsenal have lacked when Theo Walcott was injured. One player may not be the difference with Arsenal winning the title and coming fourth, but it’s a start. Whilst the top of the league may take many unexpected twists and turns during the season as we witnessed last campaign, the aim of the newly promoted teams will be solely to stay in Premier League. Danny Ings has the ammunition to shoot Burnley to Premier League safety, Leicester City, who had maintained their position at the top of the division since before Christmas are coming in with full of confidence, and Queens Park Rangers have a 20 goal mark striker in Charlie Austin. If the 2013/2014 Premier League campaign taught us anything, it is that you can’t predict what is to come. So let’s just sit back, feet up and enjoy the exciting journey we’re about to embark again.

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LET’GET IT ON!

Sheffield’s newly crowned world champion calls out Amir Khan for a showdown in England that could surpass the Groves-Froch II Wembley extravaganza.

Fresh after his victory in California by defeating Shawn Porter in California, newly crowned IBF Welterweight Champion, Kell Brook wasted no time in picking his next opponent. As bitter rival Amir Khan watched on in the studio whilst commentating on the fight, Brook at ringside called out Khan as the judges awarded him a majority decision with the scores 114-114, 117-111, 116-112.

The victory takes the Yorkshireman’s impressive record to 33-0 and could put him in line for a money spinner against current boxing king Floyd Mayweather Jr leapfrogging Khan’s ongoing struggles to secure a fight with the ‘Money Man’. Referring to his rival from his amateur days as “Queen Khan”, Brook goaded the Bolton boxer and former world champion into accepting the fight that could potentially take place in England next summer.

On a potential fight with Khan, he said: “The British public want it. He’ll probably say I need to win another title for the fight. I know he doesn’t like me. The fact is, he is getting it. I’m the champ of the world.”

Khan in return duly accepted the offer and if the fight is to take place, it could potentially become one of the biggest fights to take place on English soil for decades.

At this moment in time the tables have turned as Kell Brook is a world champion and Amir Khan is a former world champion. For the sake of boxing, this fight has to happen and bring two world class fighters together for what could be an explosive and dramatic affair and be a golden era for British boxing once again.

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A Bradford man aims to jump for the stars in the growing trend of ‘freerunning’…

Jumping from one building rooftop to another whilst doing a front somersault is not everyone’s cup of tea, but for some youngsters it is a passion and is fast becoming a growing trend in the UK. For most aspiring sports stars, they grow up hoping to be the next Michael Jordan or Lennox Lewis, but not for 21 year old Dwayne Clarke. Born and raised in Bradford, Clarke is creating quite a scene, nationally with his impressive freerunning, also known as Parkour to the students of this sport.

Parkour (freerunning) is a holistic training discipline using movement that developed from military obstacle course training. Practitioners aim to get from A to B in the most effective way possible. They do this by using only their bodies and their surroundings to propel themselves. Parkour can include obstacle courses, running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping and rolling, depending on what movement is deemed most suitable for the given situation.

Clarke has now been practicing this sport for the last five years and draws his inspiration from acclaimed freerunners Paul ‘Blue’ Joseph and Liverpool based Daniel Ilabaca, who is also one of the founders of the World Freerunning and Parkour Federation.

“Freerunning started in France and I instantly fell in love with it the moment I tried it out four years ago,” he states. “At first my parents were quite hesitant as it can be a dangerous sport and injuries are pretty common but they realized how passionate I was about it and have supported me since. I see it as a career,” he told the Urban Echo.

Training for this sport is unique. Seldom are weights used to build muscle as participants rely more on flexibility and core strength meaning plenty of pull ups, press ups and countless stomach crunches. Not forgetting road work to build stamina and endurance.

Asked about his training schedule, Clarke talks about his own technique. “I practice endlessly by jumping over walls. Big walls, small walls or any other structure that I feel I can use to test my technique. It’s all about the movement, the flow. Knowing your body is very important… what you are natural at and what you need to work on.”

As an active member of the Bradford Gymnastics Club, Clarke aims to become a professional freerunner like his idols and perfect the sport he chosen to purse as a career. He has a humble attitude and ranks himself as no better than his counterparts as he feels they all bring something new to the table with their skills.

He is currently a huge hit on YouTube with his videos and sees himself travelling the world within five years participating in major competitions and competing with the elite of freerunners across the globe.

Freerunning is fast becoming a preferred sport for many youngsters in the UK. Though it is not formally recognized as a sport as of yet, one can also refer to it as an art form. The movement of the human body flowing through the air in different angles jumping over walls, cars, railings and rooftops is a mesmerizing sight. The skill involved is immense and the courage to try this is just as impressive.

For Dwayne Clarke this just the beginning. He realizes the obstacles and hard work he has to endure to reach his goal as one the best freerunners in the UK… then maybe the world. The Urban Echo team wish him all the best.

***URBAN ECHO EXCLUSIVE***

On August 31, 2012, Bradford businessman Omar Khan proudly walked on to the Odsal stadium pitch alongside friend and seasoned politician Gerry Sutcliffe to the rapture of the partisan crowd who were relieved at the fact that their beloved Bradford Bulls had been saved from potential obscurity. Two years later, what started as a fairy tale romance has ended in a rancorous battle between the Bull’s former owner and the new owners.

Urban Echo has been contacted by Ryan Whitcut, the former general manager of the Bradford Bulls during Omar Khan and Gerry Sutcliffe’s reign at the club. He spoke exclusively to Urban Echo of his version of events and his reasons as to why he thinks the breakdown in trust and continuing suspicions contributed to the end of what could have been a golden era for the Bradford Bulls.

A statement by Ryan Whitcut, former general manager, Bradford Bulls:

When I agreed to purchase the club along with MarkMoore in September last year it was to continue along with the good work that had already been done. It was clear to everyone involved that there was a deficit in 2014 of £500k and that this figure would need to be found, it was never the case that cost cutting would be the way forward.

I had attracted a large investment which was coming from a development company known for its development of sports stadiums and complexes, they were to take a share of the club as well as develop the stadium and adjoining land at Odsal. The initial input into the rugby club was £1m for 2014. I had also attracted a number of smaller investors into the club to help with its running. These people were given sight of the full accounting position and shortfalls known to the club. When it was clear we were not going to be able to pay Omar the agreed amount on the date agreed I approached him and got an extension, I had agreed that we would pay the costs he incurred during that time. My fellow directors at the time thought they could legally and I guess morally just not pay what was contractually owed. I would like to point out that I am being pursued for over £150k still.

When I left the club in November last year, there was no debt to HMRC and the Purchase Ledger was running at about £300k. The threat of a winding up petition by HMRC was down to those in charge after I left.

Numerous meetings were had with the RFL and again at no point were cost cutting measures spoken or even thought about. We all wanted the Bulls to be successful and cutting costs would jeopardise the chances of a play-off position. After a meeting at the RFL at which I was not present I was informed by Mark Moore that Blake Solly had said that they didn’t have to pay Omar Khan and he also said that I had failed a fit and proper person test and should leave the club immediately as per the RFL. This came to me as a bit of a shock as I had been running the club and been an “influential person” within the club for the previous 12 Months. I haven’t to date received any correspondence from the RFL to that effect. The board then approached the developer directly, who after seeing the way business was being conducted decided to walk away.

A number of blatant lies were told by the trio as well as Robbie and John Bateman. At all

times everyone was kept informed. John phoned me and said, “I want to leave the Bulls”.

The meeting was set up with Ian Lennigan and Andrew Calvert was going to come along.

He called me that morning and said he couldn’t make it due another commitment. Before

any offer was accepted, all four of them agreed to the sale price. Amazingly, at the fans

forum, they then say that they knew nothing about it.

Other stories relating to hidden costs which they knew nothing about again are stories, all

of them had full access to all documents and accounting systems in place. The pre pack

administration was to get rid of Omar’s debt without paying him a penny and not for any

other reason. The parties behind this were Ralph Rimmer, Blake Solly, Mark Moore,

Andrew Calvert, Ian Watt. The administration was put together with the RFL’s full backing

and knowledge since December 2013. This has left the club in limbo once again.

From the moment I was asked to leave the club I have refrained from making any comment, publicly or privately, after seeing the absolute debacle of yesterday I felt the need to set the record straight.

When the Club was placed into administration again the year the RFL had no other option but to deduct points and I fully agree with this, however why this time was there no mention of having Central distribution monies taken away? Why is this different to last time when the Hood regime entered into administration?

I believe this has to do with the purchaser. Omar and his team were never wanted in the Rugby League circle and the implementation of in essence a £1.25m fine, the 1st of its kind within rugby of both codes and football. This never gave the bulls a chance of staying within losses that were manageable.

It’s clear that the Rugby Football League didn’t want Omar’s ‘sort’ or the investment I had attracted in the game. They should have shown more guts at the time and said NO. Instead there was a lack of cooperation, extreme penalties, a general lack of support and an intention to prevent payment to Omar Khan which ended a bright future for the Bulls.

I heard that the administrator David Wilson spoke out loud at the creditors meeting and stated that he had tried to contact me on numerous occasion about the alleged financial irregularities. This never happened. I have since sent numerous emails to Mr Wilson requesting the correspondence sent whilst he was allegedly trying to get in touch, again to this date I have received nothing.

The Bulls was a major part of my life and I wish them every success in the future. If the performance against Warrington was anything to go by, they will be fine.

Gerry SutcliffeOver the past few weeks I have been sad and disappointed to read the numerous articles in the local press and unnamed commentary from individuals attacking Omar Khan in relation to OK Bradford Bulls.

At the time I was asked to be involved, the only motivation of us all was to save the club and to try to take it forward in difficult circumstances. The club was within half an hour of liquidation when Omar invested large amounts of his own money to secure it and save its super league status.

When he asked me and other board members to step down in September as he was selling the club to others due to illness, there were no outstanding issues as far as I was concerned.

It appears that the debt entered into by the new directors as result of a loan to the club by Marc GreenGerry Sutcliffe 2resulted in Mr Green putting the club into administration. He subsequently bought the club from administration, beating rival bidders.

Omar Khan has challenged that administration process legally and from his own pocket paid for the legal challenge in an attempt to make transparent the whole process.

In relation to the loan from Bradford Council to the rugby club, this was a commercial loan agreed within the appropriate council procedures.

As far as I am aware, Omar is repaying the loan as the guarantor. His character and integrity is being unfairly maligned for political gain.

Gerry Sutcliffe, MP

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