Boxer, icon, revolutionary

first_imgI never saw Muhammad Ali fight live. I didn’t really understand the intricacies of boxing. Yet the mesmeric boxer with dancing feet is embalmed forever in the mind. He wasn’t just the greatest boxer of his generation, he is, arguably, the greatest sportsman of all time. In this age of,I never saw Muhammad Ali fight live. I didn’t really understand theintricacies of boxing. Yet the mesmeric boxer with dancing feet isembalmed forever in the mind. He wasn’t just the greatest boxer of hisgeneration, he is, arguably, the greatest sportsman of all time. In this age of hype and astute marketing, we confer ‘greatness’ like confettiat a wedding ceremony. Ali didn’t need any PR agent to proclaim hisgreatness; he was his own impresario, a 24×7 echo chamber. With anyoneelse it might have seemed empty braggadocio, but with Ali it defined his intense self-belief in and beyond the ring.Rajdeep SardesaiThere are othersportspersons who stand out for what they contributed to their sport. ADon Bradman, for example, is statistically way ahead of any batsman whowielded the willow. A Michael Jordan defied gravity with a basketball in hand. A Roger Federer used a tennis racquet like a wand. A NadiaComaneci achieved perfection as a gymnast. Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps lit up swimming pools with golden glory. Usain Bolt is the cheetah ofathletics. Pele and Diego Maradona were masters of the beautiful game.Even among boxers, Rocky Marciano lost fewer fights. But only Ali amongthem actually transcended his sport, not just in terms of individualpopularity but in his ability to impact society.Ali wasn’t just a boxing legend. He was, in a sense, a radical social revolutionary, anemancipist of the modern age. To black people across the world, he was a symbol of one of the most powerful movements of the 20th century: thefight for racial equality. Ali wasn’t a Jesse Owens at the 1936 BerlinOlympics, who accepted racial segregation without rancour, or even aJohn Carlos or Tommie Smith, who put up a symbolic black power salute on the medal podium at the 1968 Olympics. Ali actually gave up hisheavyweight crown on a matter of principle-of not fighting in Vietnam.He threw his Olympic medal into the Ohio river when he was denied entryinto a ‘whites only’ restaurant. He was ostracised by people in hisLouisville hometown, but he never took a step back. Ali floated like abutterfly and stung like a bee in the ring, but outside it, he showedraw courage to walk the talk. He was almost invincible with fists, hewas certainly invaluable with his beliefs.advertisementWhich is why I see himas the sporting world’s equivalent of a Babasaheb Ambedkar. Ambedkar too sacrificed a potentially lucrative legal career to fight for casteequality. If Ali saw conversion to Islam as his big protest moment,Ambedkar chose neo-Buddhism to challenge Brahminical Hinduism. LikeAmbedkar, Ali too was ahead of his time. And if Dalits veneratedAmbedkar, Ali became an iconic figure for millions of blacks across theworld. If one fought in the battlefield of ideas, the other was no lessexpressive with his words.And his words packed a punch. “Why areall the church angels white? Why ain’t there any black angels?” he asked at a church ceremony in 1983.Like many other sporting greats, he could have walked into the sunset with a hefty bank balance. But hekept coming back, refusing to allow age or authority to knock him down.Even a debilitating Parkinson’s disease didn’t stop him from speakingout. When dozens were killed in a terror attack in Paris last year, hedidn’t hide his feelings. “I am a proud Muslim and there is nothingIslamic about killing innocent people,” he said.There are twopublic images of Ali that stand out. One is of the brash young boxerdaring Sonny Liston to get off the canvas after knocking him out in just the second minute of round one in their 1965 fight. The second is ofAli, hands shaking, lighting the Olympic torch at the 1996 AtlantaGames. Thirty-one years separated the two events. Cassius Clay was nowMuhammad Ali, the body had weakened, but the spirit had not.Inthat magical moment when the Olympic torch was lit, you couldn’t helpgetting emotional. It was America’s redemption song, of apologising andatoning for the sins of racism. It was also the world’s way ofcelebrating the transformative quality of sport. Ali had not justentertained millions with his boxing, he had, more crucially, given allof us hope. A hope of a better tomorrow, where no one would be isolatedbecause of the colour of their skin. Which is also why Ali’s death madeus teary-eyed. We hadn’t just lost a childhood hero. We had been sent areminder of our own mortality. God, after all, is the greatest. Ali wasonly his messenger. RIP.advertisementSardesai’s book, 2014: The Election That Changed India, is now on the standslast_img read more

Competition Commission slaps Rs 52-cr penalty on BCCI

first_img(Eds: Adding more information)New Delhi, Nov 29 (PTI) The Competition Competition today imposed a fine of Rs 52.24 crore on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for anti-competitive practices with respect to the Indian Premier League.Apart from directing the BCCI to “cease and desist” from unfair practices, the fair trade regulator asked it not to place blanket restriction on organisation of professional domestic cricket league by non-members.The watchdog had penalised the cricket body for the same amount in February 2013 as well, but that penalty was set aside by the appellate tribunal after an appeal by the BCCI.In its 44-page order, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) said the penalty of Rs 52.24 crore comes to nearly 4.48 per cent of the average of the BCCIs relevant turnover during the last three financial years.The average turnover of Rs 1,164.7 crore is for three financial years — 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16. “The assessment of the Commission clearly brings out that the impugned clause in the IPL (Indian Premier League) Media Rights Agreement has been pursued by BCCI consciously to protect the commercial interest of the bidders of broadcasting rights as well as the economic interest of BCCI,” it said. In February 2013, the watchdog had slapped a fine of Rs 52.24 crore on the BCCI. Although at present, the average of the relevant turnover is slightly higher than the one which was considered by the CCI while passing the order in February 2013, the regulator said it prefers to maintain the penalty amount. For the case, the CCI considered organisation of professional domestic cricket leagues/ events in India as the relevant market.advertisementAccording to the order, BCCI being a not-for-profit organisation and its revenue being ploughed back into cricket are general features of any sports federation and the same cannot be taken as mitigating factors as proposed by the cricket body.”Similarly, the Commission does not find merit in the argument that there is no actual instance of refusal to any proposal for organisation of domestic leagues similar to IPL. “After assuming monopoly of IPL for a sustained period of ten years by excluding all potential competition, there is no reason for BCCI or anyone to expect a proposal for organisation of a similar league,” the regulator said.The regulator noted that denial of market access is one of the severe forms of abuse of dominant position.The BCCI has been directed not to put any blanket restriction on organisation of professional domestic cricket league or events by non-members.”This shall, however, not preclude BCCI from stipulating conditions while framing/ modifying relevant rules for approval or while granting specific approvals, that are necessary to serve the interest of the sport.”Such changes shall entail norms that underpin principles of non-discrimination and shall be applied in a fair, transparent and equitable manner,” the order said.Besides, the BCCI has been asked to issue appropriate clarification regarding the rules applicable for organisation of professional domestic cricket leagues/ events in India, either by members of BCCI or by third parties, as well as the parameters based on which applications can be made and would be considered.”BCCI shall take all possible measure(s) to ensure that competition is not impeded while preserving the objective of development of cricket in the country,” the CCI said. Further, the cricket body has to file a report to the CCI on compliance with these directions within 60 days.Following an appeal, erstwhile Competition Appellate Tribunal (Compat) had set aside the CCIs order passed in February 2013 and asked the regulator to look into the matter afresh.The tribunal had set aside the order in February 2015. Subsequently, the regulator had directed its investigation arm Director General (DG) to conduct further probe. The DG had filed its supplementary investigation report in March 2016.After taking into consideration the supplementary report and submissions by the cricket body, the CCI has passed the latest order. PTI RAM ABMlast_img read more