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Lewis is the role model for shape of things to come.

Byline: Alun Rees

LENNOX LEWIS is thinking about it (and already getting in some work experience). Anthony Mundine may have to, while Gustavo Kuerten may care to. Though in Kuerten's case a ready-made career opportunity seems to be opportuning, for word is that he gets knocked out in the first round so often that he's under serious consideration as aspiring British heavyweight Oddly Harrison's next opponent.

What best to do to earn a crust when your current profession has no further use or appeal for you is what we're talking about, though it comes as a large surprise to many - including self - that a diversion down the pugilistical path would represent a career switch for Kuerten. All you ever hear about the poor chap is him getting kayoed here, there and everywhere by all and sundry.

But in point of fact it turns out he's a tennis player; in facter, the world No 1.

Which is weird, because when Julien Boutter sent him to the canvas (sorry, beat him in straight sets; can't get used to thinking about him as a non-boxer) in Basle it was his fifth first-round stoppage in a row. The Brazilian confessed to being a bit worried about this, but tennis rankers don't seem bothered.

They very rarely are. You hear about this chap winning that big tournament and that chap winning this, but they might as well save their breath. However, in case the rankers catch on Kuerten should think about tackling Big Oddly; after all, he's only 25 and can move around a bit, so he'll be in far less danger of getting hammered than he is on the tennis court.

And he might well win. I'd be prepared to venture a few bob on him, for it would astonish Big Oddly right down to his socks to encounter a fellow who wasn't ancient, obese or immobile, and preferably all three. So that's Kuerten's future sorted. There's no need for anyone to sort things for Lewis: he already looks in terrific shape for a future as chief excusifier for what is satirically described as Britain's rail system.

An excusifier is a chap charged with soothing the punters when things go skewiff, and railway excusifying is the toughest sort of excusifying there is. You have to say things about the wrong kind of snow and leaves on the line and such.

There was a real beauty the other day when a socking great locomotive (excusified the excusifier) was stumped by dew on the track.

So when Lewis advanced lashings of excuses for getting slambanged by Hasim Rahman last April he was not making excuses for defeat - he was practising punter-pacifying. My favourites (can't list the lot; that would require three volumes as fat as a Big Oddly opponent): wrong sort of ropes and the referee counted too fast. Snow, leaves and dew will be a total doddle after that.

Mundine - a pugilistical Australian of the super-middleweight tendency and the Muslim persuasion - was ordered to leave the World Boxing Council rankings this instant and kindly close the door behind him. His crime? Did he wear brass knucks under his gloves? Did he turn up for duty swozzled? Did he do dodgy deals to take the element of chance out of gambling? No, no and no.

He opined that the USA had brought the September 11 attacks on itself. You don't have to sympathise with his opinion in order to assert his right to opine it. I was under the impression that the current unpleasantness was about defending the democratic way of life, and last time I checked it was fairly widely held that the democratic way of life was not unconnected with freedom of speech.

A Mundine apology did nothing to soothe WBC president Jose Sulaiman.

"Such statements are unbelievable and intolerable, " he wrathed. Maybe he hasn't heard of a gent name of Muhammad Ali, who once found himself being harassed, hassled, boycotted and bullyragged for holding opinions of the less popular sort.

Most folk looking back reckon that the anti-Ali onslaught was well out of order.

A bloke whose future has been mapped out for him by bandwagon-jumpers may not be over-grateful: rugby league star Iestyn Harris, now unioning with Cardiff.

Half a game into a new code he was being picked for Wales all round, and even tipped for the skippership by oft-capped oft-captain Dai Young. There's been nothing like it since Jason Jones Hyphen Hughes. Whatever did become of him, by the way?

Five chaps were anxious to avoid being deprived of any kind of future:

England cricketers, including Glamorgan's Robert Croft, who insisted on pondering the wisdom of touring India with war and stuff going on. They're right, and understandably keen not to be proved dead right. The "Show these terrorists they can't terrify us" blowhards remind me of World War One stop-at-homes urging everyone else not to be wimpish and get into those trenches.

IOC member Gerhard Heiberg raised doubts about next year's Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City proceeding. If the United States is still at war, he explained, this would be a breach of the Olympic Truce. The IOC Athletes Commission hastily swung into go-ahead mode. It is essential, it stated, that the world's athletes have the right to participate in the Olympics. Essential? Look it up in the dictionary, dunderheads.

If the Games go on (and couldn't they be moved if there's still a war in progress? ) Canadian-born Glynn Pedersen (Scottish mother, Yorkshire father) could become Britain's first ski-jump competitor since Eddie "The Vole" Edwards. Oh, dear - I've just used the words competitor and Eddie The Vole in the same sentence. Having The Vole jumping for you was very close to having nobody.

Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj, aiming to prove that he isn't the guy who can win anything except Olympic 1,500m gold, cancelled his projected move up to 5,000m to have another go at Athens 2004. He fell in Atlanta and was pipped by Noah Ngeny in Sydney. Well, he couldn't choose a better spot than Athens to climb the athlete's Olympus: the winner's spot on the podium.

Good news for the coffer-filler-uppers of the Welsh Rugby Union: Baron Hardhat's Castle could become the permanent home of the FA Cup final. The FA, so 'tis said, is thinking about dropping plans for a new English national stadium. Good news for some is frequently bad news for others; in this case residents of Cardiff who quite like to use their own city now and again.

Fierce debate in soccer concerned the world's best striker, and there must be a lot of him (or them) around, for several English clubs claim to have him (or them). Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri votes for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink; Sir Sourpuss Grumpydrawers advocates Manchester United's Ruud van Nistelrooy; then there's Thierry Henry, much touted by Arsene Wenger. Don't any o these guys watch Italian football?

Apart from Andrei Shevchenko (AC Milan), Roma's Gabriel Batistuta can still show most of his rivals the way home, which he might well do at next year's World Cup finals: he'll be calling it an international day afterwards and will be double eager to go out in style. Batistuta (he'll be 37 by the time the 2006 World Cup arrives) has netted 55 goals in 75 games for Argentina: less a scoring rate than a scoring riot.

Liverpool's Emile Heskey may not be quite in this league, but as a man he belongs in any company. He was targeted by racist pillocks during the Champions League game with Boavista, for which the Portuguese club faces an uncomfortable time on Uefa's best disciplinary carpet. Heskey's attitude towards the mean-spirited, mentally-challenged, poisonous berks was magnificent: he dismissed them as ignorant.

There was also lively debate about Graeme Le Saux's tackle on Danny Mills when Chelsea visited Leeds: a real frightener. Pity soccer can't copy the gridiron system. After Denver's Matt Lepsis, unspotted, threw a block which left San Diego's Maa Tanuvasa with a broken ankle, NFL chaps fined him $15,000. San Diego's Rodney Harrison copped a $12,500 deduction for walloping an opponent in the head. They don't mess around, those NFL disciplinary fellows.

The ubiquitous Sir Rodders Walkers put the Wembley and Pickett's Lock fiascos down to lack of leadership in sport.

Nobody, he said, knows who is supposed to do what, which causes confusion. Sir Rodders is chairman of UK Sport, the Rugby Football League, Leicester City and Wembley National Stadium Ltd. Perhaps there'd be less confusion if he had regular chats with himselves.
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 29, 2001
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