Sports Digest


A round-up of today's other stories in brief

Cuban heavyweight great Stevenson dies at age 60

Cuban heavyweight boxing great Teofilo Stevenson, who won three Olympic gold medals but decided to turn down an opportunity to fight Muhammad Ali for $5 million in a hotly-anticipated bout, has died of a heart attack at the age of 60, Cuban state media reported on Monday.

Stevenson won Olympic gold medals in 1972 at the Munich Games, 1976 in Montreal and 1980 in Moscow and was widely considered to be the greatest amateur boxer of his time.

After the 1976 Games, US boxing promoters offered Stevenson $5 million to turn professional and fight Ali, then heavyweight champion of the world.

But he stayed loyal to the Cuban revolution, which outlawed professional sports, and refused.

“What is $1 million compared to the love of 8 million Cubans?” he reportedly said in turning down the fight.

After his fighting career finally came to an end, Stevenson went on to become a coach of Cuban boxers and also served as vice-president of the Cuban Boxing Federation.

Rangers face liquidation

Rangers have been consigned to liquidation after Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs decided to reject an offer from Charles Green’s consortium. The decision means Green’s Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) will fail to achieve the 75 per cent backing needed from creditors.

Green will now push ahead with plans to buy the club’s assets for €6.9 million in the coming days with both HMRC and Ticketus, the other major creditors, not expected to challenge the newco purchase deal he has struck with administrators Duff and Phelps.

But there is no guarantee the new entity will be able to play in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League. SPL clubs would themselves decide on any application to acquire the club’s share and could impose sanctions. Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson last week doubted whether Rangers would have enough support and some fans have been rallying their clubs to reject any proposal.

A “newco” Rangers would not be allowed to play in Europe for three years and Green faces the prospect of losing players.

Bowlers get in the swing of things on opening day

Some good work from the bowlers helped Ireland ‘A’ end day one of their three-day game against their Scottish counterparts on decent terms at Uddingston in Glasgow yesterday.

Ireland could only manage 181 in their first innings and 53 of those runs came in a final-wicket stand of 59 between Trent Johnston (42 not out) and Allan Eastwood (28).

Johnston is in the team to get some bowling practice ahead of the senior clash with Australia on Saturday week and he came back well from conceding 16 runs from his first over to finish with one for 26 from eight overs.

Three wickets from Max Sorensen and two from Phil Eaglestone left Scotland on 181 for 6 at the close of play, levelling matters on the scoreboard.

Allen gets suspended ban for accusing Chinese players

Mark Allen has been given a suspended three-month ban and fined €12,500 for accusing Chinese players of cheating.

After his defeat at the Betfred.comWorld Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in April, the 26-year-old first accused his opponent Cao Yupeng, said cheating appeared to be a trait of Chinese players and then also named two other Chinese players. The disciplinary committee of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association considered the case and found Allen to be in breach of their regulations.

In addition to his fine and suspended ban the Northern Irishman, who had previously been fined €1,250 and warned as to his future conduct for comments he made about China and the Chinese people on Twitter, was ordered to pay €1,250 towards the cost of the hearing. In a statement the WPBSA confirmed: “This suspension will only come into effect if he commits any new breach of the WPBSA Members Rules that are dealt with by the WPBSA disciplinary process in the next six months.”

Groupama holds narrow lead

The six boats of the Volvo Ocean Race were expected to round the island of São Miguel in the Azores archipelago overnight in the penultimate stage of the competition from Lisbon to Lorient in Brittany. French entry Groupama 4 held a narrow lead of less than a mile over Spain’s Telefonica while American entry Puma was close to the leading pair all sailing in light winds.

However, gale force winds between the Azores and the Bay of Biscay are likely to deliver a high-speed run to the finish with rough conditions expected where the continental shelf becomes shallower.

The French boat, with Ireland’s Damian Foxall on board, is the overall leader and despite a poor start to leg eight on Sunday, victory in the Lisbon In-Port race the previous day and last place for the Spanish boosted the lead. Despite this, any of the three leaders plus fourth-placed Camper could win overall with the Galway in-port race on July 7th becoming the decider. Foxall yesterday described that as a “penalty shoot-out” to decide the eight month contest. – DAVID BRANIGAN