Joe’s Crow Country - tribute to a forgotten hero

PUBLISHED: 16:03 04 May 2011

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THERE were a couple of high profile deaths over the weekend, with one receiving a great deal more coverage than the other.

Details of the killing of Osama Bin Laden are still emerging, and as each revelation is released, the chances of media attention wearing off seem less likely.

This is quite right too. The Taliban leader has been the most wanted man in the world since the 9/11 disaster, and continued to spread his terrorist ideals long after.

I feel sorry though, for the family and friends of former boxing champion Henry Cooper, whose death after a long illness the day before the killing of Bin Laden, was somewhat swept under the carpet.

It’s the equivalent of discovering a cure for athlete’s foot the day before someone works out a cure for cancer. A fine achievement, but it’s been blown away by a more significant discovery.

Or imagine you’re in the pub, and someone like Fern Cotton sidles up and asks for your phone number, only for your mate to get off with Holly Willoughby the next night.

I’m not sure if Barack Obama is a fan of Our ‘Enry, who was 76, but if he could have held fire on Bin Laden’s killing by a couple of days, we would have had more time to revel in the career of one of Britain’s best loved sports stars.

His most famous hour came when he felled the legendary Muhammad Ali in a bout at Wembley Stadium in 1963. His left hook, know as ‘Enry’s ‘Ammer knocked Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, clean out.

My granddad, who grew up in North London, was at the fight, and told me how he could feel the terrace vibrate when the punch was landed.

Clay’s fall, luckily for him, was cushioned by the ropes, and he recovered to defeat Cooper after cutting him open in the fifth round – even though the Englishman was ahead on points.

It later surfaced that Clay’s trainer Angelo Dundee had illegally used smelling salts to bring his protégé round, and purposely cut a hole in his gloves in order to delay the fight re-starting.

Cooper’s popularity never waned though, and he was given an OBE in 1969. Successful defences of his British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight belts followed, before he retired in 1971.

Since then, he has been knighted, actively campaigned against far-right politics and was twice awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

He remained a gentleman and a true working-class hero throughout, but was, in a way, Bin Laden’s final victim.

-

WAKING up on Friday morning hoping to avoid the royal wedding proved impossible.

I went downstairs at about 10.30am to find family gathered round the television, and had a moment of weakness as I sidled in to catch a bit of the ‘action.’

From what I saw, it was just as boring as I thought it would be, and I didn’t hang around for long.

From the bits that I saw, I enjoyed William’s jacket and the Queen looking almost as bored as me. For me though, it would have been just that bit more perfect had the Prince maintained a full head of hair.

Baldness will happen to many of us, but to adhere to the magic and majesty the day was supposed to carry, a more populous group of follicles was needed.

Fair play to you if you enjoyed it though. I can see how the event captured the imagination of some, not all, of the nation.

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