I had been saving this story up for Audley Harrison becoming World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. Having sat on it for over a decade, and given his weedy performance against David Haye last night, there seems no need to delay it any longer.
Back in the late 1990s, one of the lads in London Class War was going out with Tuppy Owens, who headed the Sexual Freedom Coalition. This brought the opportunity of occasional stewarding work at the SFC's parties, which were rather lavish fund raising events for groups like Outsiders, and brought together as diverse a group of people under one roof as it was possible to imagine.
At some stage I found myself given the all important job of guarding a fire door at the appropriately named Pleasure Rooms in Tottenham, listening to a guy in a toga, carrying a cane, waxing lyrical to two young women about how his mate was going to be world champion, how nobody could beat him, he was the next big thing etc etc. A couple of minutes later one of the biggest guys I had ever seen in my life appeared - this was clearly the future heavyweight champion of the world, although it has to be said his air of menace was slightly reduced by also wearing a light brown toga.
Fast forward to 2000, and I realised just who I had been rubbing shoulders with - the Tottenham toga wearer was transformed in Sydney into the 2000 Olympic Super Heavyweight Champion - one Audley Harrison.
Sadly that was as good as it seemed to get for Audley - although he took the BBC for a lot of money, his professional career never really got going. Domestic fights that he could have won - for example Herbie Hide, (who was once bundled through the fire doors at York Hall for calling out Harrison) never happened, whilst those that did either produced mixed results (Danny Williams) or embarrassment (Martin Rogan). Harrison skillfully avoided a succession of hungry Eastern bloc fighters - in his career he has never fought a man from the former Soviet Union, a telling statistic.
Without wishing to get all homo-erotic, I am not sure I have ever seen a sportsman as physically impressive as Audley Harrison. He was just huge. Last Friday Harrison weighed in a full three stones heavier than David Haye, and he was chiseled rather than flabby - yet in the Manchester Arena he failed to connect with a significant punch. He now leaves boxing a wealthy man, but has left us with little in the way of positive memories. If the motivation for professional boxers is glory, David Haye continues to seek it, whilst Audley never even found it.
After Audley was dumped from his BBC contract, I asked a former Muay Thai world champion why Harrison had failed to translate his obvious gifts into professional success. His answer? "You can't give people heart". Perhaps it remains the case that it is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog?