Ayub Kalule: The Road to The Fight With "Sugar" Ray Charles Leonard

Ayub Kalule, born in January 1954, is unanimously regarded as the gem of Uganda boxers. Among his significant amateur accolades are the Africa (Kampala), Commonwealth Games (Christchurch), and World Championship (Havana) victories all achieved in 1974. Kalule was crowned Africa Sportsman of the Year for 1974.

Kalule whose father was a Kampala butcher, was an excellent soccer player and sprinter when he was a schoolboy. But he soon came across and was intrigued by an article on Muhammad Ali. The impetus to box was also provided by his older brother Zaid who was a good amateur boxer. Kalule trained and practiced with his brother. Though Kalule is right-handed, he largely took on the boxing stance of Zaid who was a southpaw. Kalule would develop a good jab and hook.

While on a Uganda boxing team tour in Scandinavia, early in 1976, Kalule met Danish promoter Mogens Palle who offered to place him in the professional ranks. Within a month, Kalule left Uganda for Denmark, together with his wife Ziyada, daughters Marian and Zajida. Offspring later born, in Denmark included daughter Dauswa and son Sadat. Pressure had been placed on Kalule to remain in the amateur ranks, but his outstanding boxing success, the prospects of lucrative paychecks abroad, and the deteriorating political and economic climate during those years of the Idi Amin military regime, encouraged many Uganda boxers to leave for Europe. Some of the other pugilists who left Uganda in the 1970’s to box in Europe include Vitalish Bbege, Shadrach Odhiambo, Mustapha Wasajja, Cornelius Bbosa-Edwards, and Joseph Nsubuga. But it was also an era in which the numbers of Africans entering the professional realm was accelerating. Many Kenyan and Nigerian boxing champions also migrated for the lucrative fighting opportunities.

Kalule debuted as a professional pugilist in April 1976 in Copenhagen. Contrary to popular belief, he was not part of the Uganda team that was selected for the consequently boycotted Olympics in Montreal (July 18- 31, 1976). The Uganda team for Montreal included John Baker Muwanga (bantamweight), Venostos Ochira (light-flyweight), Adroni Butambeki (flyweight), Cornelius Boza-Edwards (featherweight), David Ssenyonjo (lightweight), Jones Okoth (light-welterweight), Vitalish Bbege (welterweight), and John Odhiambo (light-middleweight). And though listed, Boza-Edwards (future professional world champion) had already migrated to England and even represented England in at least three dual tournaments in early 1976. They were against Ireland, Denmark, and USA, and Boza-Edwards won in all of them.

In November 1977, Kalule became the leading contender for the World boxing Association (WBA). However, it would be nearly a full two years later, even after suing and legal action by Kalule’s management, that Kalule would be given a chance at the title. Mogens Palle would spend $20000 on traveling and pressing the WBA to maintain Kalule as number one contender and give him a shot at the title. The WBA was recognized as an extravagant, carefree, and flashy «fraternal club of Latin Americans» manned principally by Panamanians who had lucrative ties with apartheid South Africa and the Far East. The WBA sanctioned ridiculous title bouts, while blocking boxers that were far highly ranked. Mogens Palle would charge:

«These WBA people are all liars. Unless you send them mail that is registered, they claim they never receive it. You ask… for the rules, and they say they’ll send them, but… never do. You ask for justice… they say be patient… They don’t want anyone to have the rules, so no one will know when they are breaking them. When only the top people have the rules, they can play any game they want.» (Putman 1981)

Kalule became the Commonwealth middleweight champion when he knocked out Al Korovou of Fiji in May 1978 in Copenhagen. His biggest crown was his win over the Japanese Masashi Kudo whom he defeated in Tokyo, in October 1979, for the WBA junior-middleweight belt. His shot at the world title, for which he had been the foremost contender for more than a year, had for long been overdue. Kalule successfully defended his title four times, all the bouts in Denmark. At this time, apart from that one time in Tokyo, Kalule had never fought professionally outside Denmark. Kalule had, after tennis star Bjorn Borge, become the next renowned sports celebrity in Denmark.

The boxing world was quite divided as to who would win in the bout between 24 year-old «Sugar» Ray Charles Leonard and undefeated 27 year- old Kalule. Leonard had watched tapes of Kalule boxing and he said that he was, «quite impressed with Kalule’s constant attack; he fights with determination.» (AP 1981: 9)

Kalule’s strength lay in his being ambidextrous, in his strength, in his hard body, and in his stamina which were major factors in his wearing down opponents. But Kalule was more of a body-banger than a head-hunter. Though undefeated, Kalule’s knockout record was not excellent. Kalule had knocked out 18 of his opponents in his 36 professional bouts. And though impressed with aspects of Kalule, 5’10» Ray Leonard regarded 5’9″ Kalule as merely an advanced amateur fighter who in the ring stands straight-up in typical European style and goes directly to his opponent. And according to Leonard, Kalule was not fast enough in the ring. Though Kalule respected Leonard’s skills and status, Kalule was disappointed that popular Leonard was being treated as a Muhammad Ali, while he himself was being treated as the mediocre opponent and underdog.

While Leonard acknowledged that Kalule was a fit and well conditioned boxer who would be difficult to beat, the American predicted that he would end the fight within 10 rounds. On the other hand, renowned trainer Bob Arum was apparently Kalule’s biggest booster. He remarked, I expect it to go 15 tough rounds and I expect people to be standing at the end waiting to hear who won, and that winner being Kalule» (UPI 1981: 13). Kalule who had never been knocked down in a professional bout was adamant that Leonard had never faced an opponent like him, and that he would take his title back to Denmark. Kalule trained for much longer hours in the gym than did Leonard. Kalule’s trainer Borge Krogh, and his masseur Tage Nielsen were confident about their Ugandan fighter. Leonard, the World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight champion would be attempting, in the quest for Kalule’s title, to become boxing’s only current dual title-holder. Impressive Leonard had only lost one fight in his professional career–a loss to legendary Roberto Duran of Panama.

In December 1979, in Denmark, 25 year-old Kalule defended his newly acquired WBA junior-middleweight title against American Steve Gregory who happened to be ranked third in the world. Gregory was also a sparring partner of Ray Leonard, both under renowned coach Angelo Dundee who was in Gregory’s corner during the fight with Kalule. Some suggested that Gregory was deliberately matched and sent over to Denmark as a test for the possible future Kalule vs. Leonard bout. Though Gregory was undefeated and highly ranked, he had not been as tested in the ring with tough opponents–he was the underdog.

Kalule outclassed and would out-point Gregory, whose hand became injured in the first round and who spent most of the time back-pedaling or hanging against the ropes, by a wide margin. The winner would take home an impressive $80000, and the loser grossed $40000. The world championship bout with Leonard, which was broadcast on short- circuit television, took place at Astrodome in Houston, amidst a crowd of between 25000 and 30000, on 25 June 1981. Leonard was guaranteed gross earnings of at least $2.5 million; while Kalule was guaranteed at least $150000. This would be Kalule’s greatest fight. Surprisingly, Leonard was in the first and second round the attacker of the solidly built Kalule. Leonard was the faster and more agile of the two boxers. This enabled him to hit Kalule as the champion struggled to figure Leonard out. Leonard’s compact jab convincingly penetrated Kalule’s defenses. The third round differed. Later on it would be revealed that a left hook delivery to Kalule’s head had resulted in the bruising of Leonard’s middle finger. The handicap would became permanent. Though the injury was troubling, Leonard valiantly attacked Kalule in round four, even dazing him a couple of times. Finishing Kalule off still remained hard, as Leonard seemed to ran into a brick wall each time he tried to subdue Kalule. The powerful exchange demonstrated just how unyielding and sturdy Kalule was.

Into round five, Kalule would establish control, mostly with his right hand. In round seven Kalule delivered a right to the challenger’s head. The blow knocked the Leonard off-balance. The challenger did recover, but Kalule gained confidence. Kalule exerted more toughness in the eighth round; Leonard was tiring and Kalule was establishing the upper hand. The ninth round was interesting. The pugilists looked exhausted but determined. The non-stop and no-holding exchange that had continued from the beginning of the bout did not show signs of waning.

Sturdy Kalule went on absorbing the challenger’s faster and more accurate punches in exchange for champion’s bruising, ambidextrous, and unpredictable blows. However the challenger did seem to sense that given the formidability of Kalule, the best solution would be for him to take the risk of delivering a quick flurry of combinations that would potentially disable Kalule. Leonard seemingly sensed that strong Kalule was also getting tired and slowing down. Near the end of round 9, Leonard delivered a series of hard combinations that seemingly confused the champion. A flash right hand knocked Kalule to the ground into a sitting position. He did not seem to be unduly hurt. He got up at the count of six, and backed up to the ropes of the neutral corner to further recover. The referee looked into Kalule’s face as he continued to count. Though Kalule stood up straight, the referee might not have been convinced that Kalule was ready to continue fighting. Kalule, who had heretofore never been knocked down and was probably temporarily at loss about how to react, did not raise his gloves to his face and step forward from the ropes to indicate as is the tradition, that he was ready to continue. The referee waved off the fight! Kalule appeared to be stunned by the stoppage, he shrugged his shoulders and arms in a protesting stance.

Most spectators probably opined that the fight was stopped prematurely, especially given that it was a global championship bought and given that Kalule was conscious enough to continue. Also, before the referee stopped counting, the ninth round had ended… but the bell was not rang. Ultimately, the fight was ruled as having been stopped at 3 minutes and 6 seconds of the ninth round. Kalule had hence been entitled to a minute-long stool corner interval, before moving on to the tenth round. Was the stoppage deliberate or otherwise a case of language miscommunication between Kalule and the Panamanian Spanish-speaking referee Carlos Berrocal who was also an assigned judge in the fight? Also one of the two-ringside judges was a Panamanian (Harmodio Cedeno), the other one was a Puerto Rican (Ismael Wiso Fernandez). And this was USA territory, popular Sugar Ray Leonard was a golden Olympian, one regarded as Muhammad Ali’s successor in terms of speed, skill, antics, and looks. Before the fight was stopped, the referees had scored Leonard as ahead by a couple of points: Berrocal (78-76), Cedeno (78-76), Fernandez (78-75).

Would Leonard have defeated Kalule if the fight had been allowed to continue? Probably. But though Kalule’s side was partly disappointed about the seemingly pre-mature stoppage of the fight, they were graceful about it and even conceded defeat. Kalule had planned to mount a full attack on Leonard after the ninth round, but then the knockdown had derailed the plan. Kalule, with his reserve of stamina was accustomed to fighting full bouts to the end. This was a 15-round title fight. Kalule conceded that Leonard was physically stronger than he had expected, Leonard admitted that Kalule was one of the best fighters that he had encountered. At this point only Roberto Duran of Panama had blemished Leonard’s record. Leonard would later in the year, in September 1981, defeat fellow American Thomas Hearns and be crowned USA Boxer of the Year. The fight with Kalule was regarded as a build-up for the fight against Hearns. A photo of Ayub Kalule fighting Ray Leonard graced the cover of «Sports Illustrated» of 6 July 1981.

After the fight with Leonard, Kalule would continue to fight at an average of three bouts a year–mostly in Denmark. He failed to recover the WBA junior middleweight title when he was knocked out in the tenth round by American Davey Moore in the middle of July 1982 in New Jersey. In November also in Atlantic City, in a non-title bout with Jamaican legend Mike McCallum, Kalule retired in the seventh round. In July 1985, in Copenhagen, Kalule won the vacant European Boxing Union (EBU) middleweight title when he knocked out Pierre Joly from Martinique. In December Kalule successfully defended his EBU title with a split decision win over legendary Sumbu Kalambay from Congo. In September 1986, in Sheffield, the Ugandan lost the title to Herol Graham when he was knocked out in the tenth round. This spelled the end of Kalule’s professional boxing career in which he impressively won 46 fights (23 knockouts), lost 4 (all by knockout), and drew none. He now lives in Uganda.

Works Cited

AP, «Sugar Ray Calls Foe ‘Advanced Amateur’.» Milwaukee Sentinel, (23 June, 1981).

Putman, Pat. «Fighting the Rulers of the WBA.» Sports Vault Illustrated (23 March 1981).

UPI. «Leonard, Hearns Fight Tonight.» Logansport Pharos-Tribune (25 June, 1981).

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How To Back Big Winners In US Sports – What’s The Key To Making Money?

Winning big on US sports… it’s all about patience.

No matter what the sport you care to mention, it’s amazing how often a new season starts with one particular team blazing a trail at the head of the standings.

New signings, a new coach, a run of good form.

They quickly become ‘the team’ to beat.

Bookmakers similarly latch on. Reducing any liability, they react by slashing the odds. They over-react, you could say.

But, then again, so do punters.

How many times have you seen traders falling over themselves to get a piece of the action… when the market has barely formed. When the season has such a long time to run.

A case of ‘bet now, think later’.

Often the best thing is to do… nothing!

That’s right. Strange as it may seem, the best policy can be to watch… and wait.

This is certainly the case when it comes to the US Sports… be it American Football (NFL), baseball, basketball, ice hockey and even major league soccer (MLS).

And the main reason for this is the format used by these various sports in the US.

What could best be called a ‘regular season, post-season’ model.

This characteristic isn’t unique to the States but it tends to be the exception rather than the norm when it comes to the majority of global sporting competitions. They tend to be one, or the other… not a mixture of both.

In simple terms, there’s an initial phase (regular league format) followed by a concluding phase (knock-out competition).

And as we know. In league situations, it’s usually a case of the best team which ends up the winners. The cream rises to the top as everybody competes on a level playing field.

However, in cup competitions, anything can happen. It’s all on the day. It’s not always the best team which wins… more the luckiest!

How does this explain your betting strategy?

Well, it’s quite simple really.

What you have is a situation where during the first part of the campaign, whether it’s in baseball’s MLB standings, basketball’s NBA tables or the NFL rankings, a team starts really well.

They record win after win, generate a good win/loss record and head the rankings…and are put straight in by the bookmakers as favourites for the Super Bowl, World Series or Stanley Cup.

And that’s to be expected. If the best regular season team isn’t deserving of outright favouritism… then who is?

All perfectly logical it has to be said. But only logical if there was a proven record of these early season trailblazers going on to win the outright competition.

Because if the stats show that they don’t… why make them the favourites?

And I can tell you… they don’t. Not nearly enough to be backing early season pacesetters at ludicrously short prices.

Just recently we’ve seen the Green Bay Packers start the regular NFL Season by winning their first 13 matches. Prices were slashed for ‘the Pack’ to follow up their Super Bowl win of 2011 with another success in 2012.

Made favourites to win the Super Bowl XLVI the Packers were the No.1 ranked team from the NFC… but lost their first play-off game at home to the New York Giants (who then went on to beat the No.1 ranked team in the AFC, New England, in the Super Bowl).

So 2012 was another blank year for the top rated teams in the NFL.

Too many teams fail to ‘see out the trip’

And of even more interest to this study is that fact that the best record in the regular season doesn’t just mean you’re ‘the best’ team but it also means you get the best route through the play-offs. Taking on the weakest opponents, with that all-important homefield advantage.

So if teams still aren’t sealing the deal with all this in their favour, just why do we continue to fall for these market leaders.

Why rush in early and take falsely short prices about a team who could easily slip up in the play-offs?

Looking at the available data… since 2000, across the five major sports in the USA (that’s the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS) there have been 59 annual championships – as strike action scuppered the 2005 ice hockey season.

Of those 59 titles only 20 were won by No.1 seeded teams. That’s a rather measly 34%. The best team in the tournament barely winning 1 in 3 times.

You’ve got teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers (2006) winning the Super Bowl as No.6 seeds and No.4 ranked New Jersey Devils winning the Stanley Cup (2000).

The St. Louis Cardinals were No.4 in the National League standings prior to baseball’s World Series in 2011 and Real Salt Lake were the No.4 team in the MLS before they won the play-offs in 2009.

Time and again we see so-called favourites losing in the post-season.

Great.. I get it now. But how can I win money?

Depending upon your knowledge there are a couple of ways in which this type of situation can be addressed.

The most obvious one is to lay the top seeds (and, we presume market leader) on an exchange like Betfair.

The price is a crucial consideration… but the example of the Packers shows just how over-bet these teams have become.

On the stats, they were a solid lay.

However, a more appealing option is to go hunting for teams at bigger prices.

Those with (i) good late season form and a bit of momentum going into the play-offs (ii) not too many injuries/suspensions (iii) past play-off experience always helps a team (iv) managerial expertise is similarly a plus when the competition intensifies (v)… a good price.

These factors all come into play once the post-season kicks in and can make the difference between winners and losers.

Yes, you might need your team to win ‘on the road’. For sure, they might need a bit of luck along the way.

But when you’re opposing a short-priced team with one, or possibly two others (hedge your bets with one team in each conference / side of the draw), then you can easily locate bets at double-figure prices.

So the over-riding advice…

Bet smart. Don’t follow the crowd in trying to lump on a team which has impressive early season form.

The format of US Sports makes it a real lottery once the play-offs begin… and it’s asking a lot for a team to hold their form right through the ‘league programme’ and match-by-match in the ‘knock-out phase’.

The strategy, whilst keeping an eye on the odds, must be to oppose these short-priced market leaders in the US.

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USA Olympic Nordic Team and Professional Cross Country Skier, Andy Newell

Andrew Newell – Professional Cross Country Skier, US National Nordic Team, 2006 & 2010 US Olympian

Sponsors: US Ski Team, Salomon, SMS, Swix, Fischer, Bank of Bennington, Karhu, Rudy Project, Power Bar, New England Nordic Ski Association, T2 Foundation

Vermont native Andrew Newell brings a whole different light to the sport of Cross Country Skiing. He is one of a kind, pushing the limits of what can be done on XC Skis. He skateboards, surfs, mountain bikes and produces extreme XC Ski films; not what you would think of as a typical XC Skier. On the course, Andrew holds in his trophy case 3 World Cup podiums, 2-time US Olympian (2006, 2010) and is internationally recognized for his sprinting abilities. I recently got the opportunity to catch up with Andy while he was on the road and pick his brain a little on the present and future.

Q. What was your inspiration or driving factors that made you begin to think about X Ski Films and extreme XC Skiing?

A. Well I started X Ski Films over 10 years ago when I first started training with the US Ski Team. Then and now my goal was to show people in the US what XC ski racing was all about and to capture the excitement of skiing. It’s one of the most popular winter sports in the world but it’s not really seen in the mainstream media here in the states. It was always funny to fly to Europe where there are 70,000 people in attendance at races and skiers are considered celebrities, and then to come back to the US where most people think it’s just a sport that old people do in the woods. In addition to the ski racing I tried to capture the life of an XC skier, the fact that we’re out training is tough but we always have fun with it. All of the tricks and extreme skiing on XC skis was just kind of my personality coming out in the films. I always grew up trying to go as fast as I could on the down hills or as big as I could off jumps and to me that’s what XC skiing is all about. It’s about being able to concur the uphills, descents, corners, jumps, and all kinds of terrain in all types of conditions. Cross-country skiing was meant to be the ultimate outdoor adventure. X Ski films kind of found a niche at the time because although every race was televised live all around Europe, finding world cup ski racing in North America was tough. Nowadays all the fans of skiing can tune into all the races by streaming them online or watching them on Universal Sports but that wasn’t the case back then. So now X Ski Films is more or less out of production, aside from short videos online when I have time to post them, but the X Ski Films lifestyle always lives on!

Q. How do you envision the future of Cross Country Skiing and Team USA Nordic Skiing?

A. Right now is an exciting time to be part of XC skiing on the US team. We’ve gone from being one of the underdogs on the world cup circuit to one of the most successful teams in a fairly short period of time. In 2006 I reached the podium for the first time in a world cup sprint race, which at the time was the best result in over 25 years for the US. Since then our team size has tripled, we’ve won World Championship medals and we’ve established ourselves as a team that can accomplish anything. It’s cool to see how the momentum can build from year to year and how we’ve grown as a team while having tons of fun pushing each other. When I was a kid it was a huge goal to make the Olympics, but that was basically because we didn’t know what was possible. We didn’t have fast US skiers to look up to. Now young skiers in the US grow up motivated not only to go the Olympics but that it’s possible to win and be the best in the world. It’s been amazing to be part of that process.

Q. Could you provide the general public a glimpse of the training regime for an elite XC skier?

A. Being a world-class skier for sure takes a lot of endurance training, strength, and technical work. Just like most endurance sports like cycling or triathlon we log the majority of our training hours in the off-season, which is why skiing is such a full time job. In the summer months we are training twice a day working out for several hours a day on roller skis and a lot of running. Because we race such a variety of competitive distances, everything from sprints to marathons, we also need to constantly be working on intervals, building our Vo2max and speed training. So even during the summer we have to do intervals and hard training pretty often. We will typically get on snow several times throughout the summer in New Zealand or Europe but we are also lucky that we get to do a lot of cross training. We’re not stuck doing laps in a pool or spinning laps around a track we get to enjoy different modes of training like running in the mountains, biking, weightlifting, we keep exercise interesting. When you need to log between 800-900 hours of training in the year it’s important to keep it fun.

During the winter, all of our training is on skis but we also taper a lot and don’t put in too many hours. In a typical season I will race up to 40 times in 15 different countries, so with all the travel we focus on building our fitness through intervals and most of all racing.

Q. What type of technologies are you incorporating into your training and racing?

A. Technology is always pushing our sport not only in how we train but also in our equipment. Training theories are always evolving and we use a lot of technology to test our bodies and make sure the training we are doing is having a positive effect. At the US Ski Team training center in Utah we have treadmills that we can ski on and they measure how our lungs and heart are working at high intensity. Having a high Vo2max is really important in cross country skiing but also studying what kind of technique and movements to use at certain speeds. We also use machines to measure our blood volume and hemoglobin mass and are constantly keeping track of how many red blood cells we’re building throughout the training year. We also use very basic technologies like heart rate monitors and lactic acid testing on a daily basis to make sure we’re getting the most out of each workout.

The technology behind equipment is mind-blowing, so I wont even get into it. But a very cool side of XC skiing that most people don’t see is what goes into the race skis and the waxing of skis. Each country on the world cup has their own staff of anywhere from 5-15 wax technicians who’s job it is to test different types of skis and different types of wax for the bases. Because snow conditions can be different at every venue and constantly changing throughout the day wax techs are basically like scientists trying to find us the best combinations of wax and grinds (which is the structure that is pressed into the base of the skis). When I travel I usually have around 30 skis in my quiver at a given time. The days leading up to the races I work together with my wax tech to pick the skis with the best flex and base for the snow conditions and then they apply the race wax which has tested best before the race begins. It’s incredibly complicated so I’m glad I just have to focus on racing most of the time.

Q. How do you believe other sports you participate in like skateboarding, surfing, trail running and mountain biking contribute to your success on the snow?

A. I’ve always been drawn to sports like skateboarding and surfing because of how addicting and fun they are. That’s what I grew up doing and I still love skating. I think I enjoy sports like that because of how non-competitive they are and because of the style and flow you feel when riding a wave or a half pipe. Realistically though sports like skateboarding and mountain biking are great for skiing. Typically athletes who are drawn to endurance sports like running, road cycling, and cross country skiing lack athleticism. And people give me a ton of crap when I say that but it’s true. Endurance athletes are incredibly fit and strong but that doesn’t mean we have great ‘athleticism’; meaning agility, body awareness, speed, things like that. I think playing sports like soccer are great for building agility and of course sports like surfing and skating are great keeping up balance and learning to move your body in a specific way. Things like that haven’t necessarily helped my fitness over the years, but it’s improved my athleticism and has made me better at adapting my ski technique and learning how to move in an efficient way.

Q. Do you believe there are any other sports as physically demanding in regards to stamina as cross-country skiing?

A. There are a lot of tough sports out there for sure, and there are a lot of sports out there where athletes cross the finish line in complete exhaustion just like in ski racing. I think XC skiing is special because it is a unique combination of power and efficiency. We have races that last anywhere from over 2 hours, to as short as 3 minutes, so developing endurance and speed is important to being successful. Skiing is also a full body exercise which requires the use of literally every muscle in the body so the feeling you get after a hard race is pretty amazing.

Q. If you could only grab a couple items from the pantry before race day, what would they be?

A. On race day I keep it pretty basic with things like oatmeal, bananas, peanut butter things like that are what I like to eat before a race. When you travel for competitions as much as we do it’s definitely hard to be too picky about what you eat. I’ve adopted some pretty strange Euro eating habits like salmon fish paste on bread for breakfast or Norwegian brown cheese to list some of my favorites.

Q. What’s on the agenda in the coming years for Andrew Newell?

A. The big focus is on the Olympics in Feb. 2014 in Sochi Russia. To win an Olympic medal would be a dream come true for me and the whole XC skiing community in the US, so that is always a driving goal. It’s funny how a lot of sports truly revolve around the Olympics, I think a lot of athletes can get to caught up in the 4 year cycle of the Olympics and have too much of a one track mind. To me XC skiing is a lifestyle and that just doesn’t come around once every 4 years. We have an incredible world cup tour and we race as hard as we can each weekend on behalf of the USA. So yes the Olympics are very important, but I there is a lot more that goes into being a ski racer and I’ll continue to enjoy that lifestyle as long as it’s still fun.

Q. Could you share some of your favorite places to XC Ski and X Ski?

A. In the US I really like the skiing around home in Vermont. VT has a ton of small local ski areas that have some sweet old school winding trails. There is this one place near Stratton called Wild Wings that is a classic skiing only trail system. All the trails are super narrow and rolling and it’s great to go out with the buddies and hammer through the woods. Prospect Mountain outside Bennington VT is the ski area I grew up at and that’s also one of my favorites when I’m in the States. When it comes to Europe its hard to beat the amazing sun and mountains of skiing in Switzerland or Italy around the Alps. We spend a lot of time training and racing around Davos Switzerland and it’s incredible there. Finland, Norway and Sweden for sure have some of the biggest ski areas since XC skiing is such a part of their culture. Skiing around Oslo is awesome because there are so many trails connecting all the different towns. Holmenkollen ski stadium is right outside of Oslo and it’s kind of the home of skiing and has some of the coolest and most challenging terrain.

Q. What’s the vibe like on race day?

A. Race days on the world cup are what I live for because all of the pressure and excitement of racing on behalf of your country. One thing I didn’t realize about XC ski racing until I came to Europe, was how intense the fans are and the kind of atmosphere created by 80 thousand spectators around the ski stadium. Sprint races especially bring in the big crowds and you start to realize that, in a way, we are involved in the entertainment industry as much as the sport aspect of skiing which makes racing even more fun. Things like betting on ski races is hugely popular in Europe and with how unpredictable sprint racing can be it’s pretty exciting for the fans. Some of the rowdiest race venues are usually my favorites to compete at. Each year we have several sprints in downtown cities like Oslo or Stockholm where they lay down snow on the streets for us to race on. In a way it’s brought ski racing to the people and the urban sprints have a pretty incredible atmosphere.

Q. Lastly, A few tips for those wanting to progress in cross country skiing?

A. I would encourage anyone who’s up for an adventure and interested in staying fit to try cross country skiing. Even for folks who aren’t into the racing side of things can go out and have a good time on skis and enjoy the outdoors in a healthy way. For the skiers interested in pushing their limits and speed in the racing scene, I would encourage them to stick with it and not give up on the technical side of skiing. XC skiing tends to have a much slower learning curve than say a sport like cycling because of the balance and movements are more complicated. It’s easy for people to buy a fancy bike, put on a jersey, and all of a sudden feel like they’re ready for the Tour de France; but with skiing the technique can be as much a limiting factor as the fitness. So for people looking to progress, sometimes the best thing to do is break the movements down into sections. First work on the lower body movements and balance by skiing without poles, and then spend some workouts just practicing the upper body and poling motions. This is the best way to dial in your technique and also build strength.

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Information About New York If You Are Visiting on a Holiday

Paris has style. Milan has fashion. London has edge. But a visit to New York will make it abundantly clear why this city is considered to be the true centre of the world.

Getting to NY by air is easy, using any of the three airports servicing it. John F Kennedy Airport, located in Queens, (20-30 minute drive from Manhattan) handles mainly international flights; La Guardia Airport, also in Queens, handles mainly domestic flights; and Newark Airport, just outside of New York in New Jersey, about a 30-40 minute drive, offers far more modern facilities than the other two.

Flights from Europe can range from as little as a few hundred USD’s to over a thousand at peak periods. Pricing obviously depends on availability, seasonality, oil prices, location, airline, flight preferences and time of booking. Being five hours behind GMT and six hours behind Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin, one can definitely expect to be up and about at five or six in the morning on your first few days in the city.

But the truth is that being awake at five in the morning in New York City is no hardship at all as it truly lives up to its title, ‘the city that never sleeps’. New York offers an overwhelming abundance of activities, sights, sounds, and even smells that will meet every possible taste out there.

For history buffs, a stroll through the 5 boroughs will take you through New York both old and new. Along the way you will find historic landmarks such as the UN buildings, Tiffany’s on 5th Avenue and the spot where John Lennon was shot at, right across from Central Park. Harlem and Queens will introduce you to the life of everyday New Yorkers. The Bronx is a fantastically revealing part of modern America riddled with the complexity of race and class issues.

Music fans will be able to enjoy the most lively and dynamic scene with live venues all across SoHo, the Village and Williamsburgh in Brooklyn. Art fans can enjoy hours upon hours strolling through Manhattan galleries or losing themselves in one of the city’s art museums such as the Guggenheim or the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). If it is science and nature that excite you, the NY Natural History Museum is hailed as the biggest in the world, with both permanent and temporary exhibitions to choose from.

Shopping is an obvious attraction, and whether it is haute couture or the bargains of the century, New York will satisfy your sartorial needs. For bohemian, indie and trendy styles, Greenwich Village and Chelsea will offer a wide range of shops. For high street brands the main 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Avenues are your destination. Department stores meet exclusive designers and every corner seems to have a Gap, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel or Abercombie & Fitch store on it.

NY offers plenty of action for the sports fanatic too. With two baseball teams, a men’s and women’s basketball team, a hockey team, two American football teams and even a European football team (soccer in the US), there is always a game to catch. If you would rather play, a public court or park is almost always within walking distance. Just beware of game hustlers that will spot a sure betting opportunity from a mile away in a New York minute.

And when all else fails, or if you just feel like getting away from it all and avoiding the crowds, Central Park offers the perfect escape from the busy city streets. One of the most famous public open spaces in the world, Central Park offers an abundance of quiet spots, natural oases, a dog-walking heaven, cycle paths, running routes and most importantly, a green haven from the concrete jungle that is the city.

Over the past 10-15 years NY has gone through a fantastic transformation. The city has cleaned up its act and when it comes to wandering around sightseeing, almost all areas are now perfectly safe, with the South Bronx being the only notable exception. The subway system is clean and effective; the people are fantastically friendly and inviting. Simple common sense and heeding some sound advice is all you need to have a great time in this metropolitan centre of the world.

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The World Soccer

INTRODUCTION:

I studied drawing at scool for many years, but I did not like it very much. My favourite subject at school were the olympic sports. I remember when I was a child and I played soccer with my friends. My best memory was when El Salvador,a small Central American country, qualified at the World Cup in 1982.I did not think «ES» defeat Mexico, sixth place in the FIFA World Championship in 1970.

Between 1978 and 1989, El Salvador had one of the worst civil war in the modern history of Latin America.Unfortunately, more than 70,000 people were killed by anti-communist dictatorships and marxist rebels.

Certainly, I was a big fan of Salvadoran soccer. I once said: «ES ganarà el Mundial ( El Salvador will be win the FIFA Soccer World 1982..!).However, the only thing that I clearly remember is that Hungary beat El Salvador 10-1 in the World Cup in Spain…Good Bye ES…!

Like many people, I think that soccer is «passion» in the world since 1910. When Cameroon, ex French colony in Africa, won its first gold medal at the XXVII Summer Olympics Games in Australia (2000)…Yaoundè, the capital city of Cameroon, was carnival for days.Cameroon was the second African country to win the gold olympic…

Unfortunately, Liberia was the nightmare of the Third World…From 1980 to 2005, more than 180,000 people were killed by dictatorships and AIDS…Currently, the poverty is a plague…Its percapita income of $ 80 a year is one of the worst in the World History. Hundreds of thousands of Liberian people fled the country. Like neighboring Sierra Leone, the African country has one of the highest number of orphans in the Africa in relation to its population.

Fortunately, Liberia is home to George Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah, one of the World`s most famous and charismatic players. In 1995 the FIFA selected George Weah as the best footballer of the Year.Certainly, he became a «World Star» in the 1990s.Like Iman (former super-model from Somalia) and Dikembe Mutombo (basketball player from the Democratic Republic of Congo), George Weah is an icon in the African continent. Since then, he made a great contribution to Liberian human development. Currently, George Weah is UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
He was national team captain for many years, but his country did not qualifity for the FIFA Football World. Ironically, Liberia was not one of the best teams of Africa in the 20th Century.

In 1994 Bolivia`s qualification for the finals was one of the surprises in the Third World sport. Under the leadership of Marco Etcheverry, Bolivia beat Brazil 2-0 in the Pre-World Cup in La Paz, Bolivia`s capital. I remember that Etcheverry, best known for his nickname «El Diablo», was the idol of millions of Bolivians.It was one of the greatest sporting moments in Bolivian history since 1978. At that time, Bolivia, under the leaderships of Guadalupe Yañez, qualified for the FIBA Women`s World Championship in Seoul, South Korea´s capital.

In my opinion, the FIFA World Championship is a world without frontiers. Ferenc Puskas, was born on April, 1926, in Budapest, Hungary, made his debut in the friendly against Austria at the age of only fifteen…In the past Century, Puskas represented both Hungary, a former communist State, and Spain.At the time, Santamaria played for Uruguay and Spain. Traditionally American players have Latin American and African roots: Hugo Perez (El Salvador), Tab Ramos (Uruguay), Claudio Reyna (Argentina), Josmer Altidore (Haiti) and Freddy Addu (Ghana).
Today Gerald Asamoah, was born in Accra (Ghana), is one of the best footballers in Germany at the moment. While Alex (Alessandro) Santos, was born in Brazil, is a Japanese player.Santos played many times for Japan, including appearances at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Personally, I think that this Century will be an era of «Sports Miracles» in the Third World. Cote D`Ivoire, best known as Ivory Coast, qualified for the FIFA Soccer World 2006…Angola made its debut in Germany…Trinidad-Tobago made its debut in the World Cup…Paraguay won the silver medal in football in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens.

CHRONOLOGY:

1930: FIFA World Cup in Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay, one of the most development countries in the 1930s.The final ranking:1-Uruguay,2-Argentina, 3-Yugoslavia,4-USA,5-Chile, 6-Brazil,7-France,8-Paraguay,9-Romania, 10-Peru, 11-Belgium, 12-Bolivia, 13-Mexico.

1934: World Cup in Rome. Uruguay did not participate. The final ranking:1-Italy, Czechoslovakia,Germany, Austria, Spain, Hungary, Sweden, Switzerland, Romania, Argentina, France, Holland, Brazil, Egypt, Belgium and the United States.

1938:World Cup in France.The final ranking:1-Italy, Hungary,Brazil,Sweden,Czechoslovakia,Switzerland,Cuba,France,Romania,Germany,Norway,Poland,Belgium,Holland,Netherlands Indies.

1950:FIFA World Cup in Brazil. In Rio, the host lost the final 2-1 to Uruguay. Brazil was the big favourite… Uruguay had its second World Cup!

1954:World Cup in Switzerland.The final ranking:1-West Germany,Hungary,Austria,Uruguay,Switzerland,Brazil,England,Yugoslavia,France,Italy,Turkey,Belgium,Mexico,Czechoslovakia,Scotland,Korea.

1958: World Cup in Sweden…The final ranking:1-Brazil, Sweden, France, West Germany, Wales, USSR, Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia,Czechoslovakia,Hungary,England,Paraguay,
Argentina, Scotland,Austria and Mexico.

1962:World Cup in Santiago de Chile…Certainly, the people of Brazil produce the World`s best coffee, but also the best soccer…The final ranking:1-Brazil,Czechoslovakia, Chile, Yugoslavia, Hungary, West Germany,USSR, England, Italy, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Uruguay, Colombia, Bulgaria and Switzerland.

1966: World Cup in London,UK…The final ranking: 1-England,
West Germany, Portugal, USSR, Argentina, Hungary, Uruguay, North Korea, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Brazil…

1970:Brazil won the FIFA World Cup on June 27th in Mexico City. The final ranking: Brazil, Italy, West Germany, Uruguay,USSR, Mexico, Peru, England, Sweden, Belgium, Romania, Israel, Bulgaria, Morocco, Czechoslovakia and ES.

1974:World Cup in West Germany…After Zaire, today`s Democratic Republic of Congo, qualified for the FIFA World Championship, a legal holiday was declared by Mobutu Sésé Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa zan Banga, tyrannical president of the African country……Haitian footballers sometimes use the language «creole» during games to confuse rivals… Brazil and WGermany were the obvious favorites.The final ranking:1-West Germany, Holland, Poland, Brazil, Sweden, Argentina, East Germany, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Italy, Scotland, Australia, Chile,Uruguay, Haiti and Zaire.

1978: World Cup in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The final ranking:1-Argentina, Holland,Brazil, Italy, West Germany, Poland,Austria, Peru, Tunisia, Spain, Scotland, France, Sweden, Iran, Hungary and Mexico.

1982: For first time, there were 24 teams. FIFA World Cup in Spain. Italy won the trophy. The ranking final:1-Italy, West Germany, Poland, France, Brazil, England, USSR, Austria, Northern Ireland, Belgium, Argentina, Spain, Algeria,Hungary. Scotland, Yugoslavia,Cameroon,Honduras,Czechoslovakia,Peru, Kuwait, Chile, New Zealand, ES.

1986: World Cup in Mexico. The final ranking:1-Argentina, West Germany, France, Belgium, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, England, Denmark, USSR, Morocco, Italy, Paraguay, Poland, Bulgaria, Uruguay, Portugal, Hungary, Scotland, South Korea, Northern Ireland, Algeria, Irak and Canada.

1990:World Cup In Italy.The final ranking:1-West Germany, Argentina, Italy, England, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Ireland, Cameroon,Netherlands, Brazil, Belgium, Spain, Romania, Colombia, Uruguay,CR,Egypt,Austria,Scotland, USSR,Sweden, South Korea,USA and the United Arab Emirates.

1994: World Cup in the United States. The final ranking:1-Brazil, Italy, Sweden, Bulgaria, Germany, Romania, Netherlands, Spain,Nigeria, Argentina, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, USA, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, Russia, Colombia, South Korea, Bolivia, Cameroon, Morocco and Greece.

1998:World Cup in Paris. The final ranking:1-France,Brazil,Croatia, Netherlands, Argentina,Italy, Germany, Denmark, England, Yugoslavia,Romania,Nigeria, Mexico, Paraguay, Norway, Chile, Spain, Morocco, Belgium, Iran, Colombia, Jamaica, Austria, South Africa, Cameroon, Tunisia, Scotland, Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria, South Korea, Japan and the United States.

2002:World Cup in Japan and South Korea…1-Brazil, 2-Germany, 3-Turkey,4-South Korea…SKorea has one of the best sporting infrastructure in the world…

2006: World Cup in Germany…1-Italy, 2-France,3-Germany,4-Portugal…

REFERENCES:
-Laity,Paul. «Costa de Marfil Brujería: que forma de ganar», National Geographic,MexicoDF, junio 2006

-Matthews,Meter.Whitaker´s Almanac Internacional Sports Records and Results 1998-9, London:The Stationery Office, London, 1998.

-Vickery,Tim. «Paraguay:Rags and Riches»,World Soccer Special Edition, London, Summer 2006

-1976 Almanaque Mundial Deportivo, Editorial América, Panama, 1975

-1977 Almanaque Mundial Deportivo,Editorial América, Panama, 1976

-2001 The World Almanac, World Almanac Books, New Jersey,2000

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The Perfect Christmas Gift

I suppose there is no such thing as the imperfect Christmas gift, but I am sure that there are some gifts that are less desirably received than others.

Let’s take a look at the «Personal Trimmer.» Every time I hear of one of these items or see it in the store I think, «nose hair trimmer.» Hey, there is no way of getting around it: if you give this gift you are telling the recipient that the strand of hair hanging out of their left nostril is unsightly. Or, since the product is also marketed for the ears, you’ve noticed a bit ‘o fuzz on their earlobes.

One way to test the wisdom of gift selection is by doing this: imagine your loved one at work hanging around the water cooler. «Bob» comes up and says, «so, what did you get for Christmas?» Your loved one replies, «I got slippers, some shirts, a tool case, and a really cool personal trimmer.» Sure, like he is going to share this information with blabbermouth Bob, who is known to share «news» throughout the office. You get the picture: if he is ashamed of the gift he’ll lie and say, «a one year subscription to Sports Illustrated» or some other tale. Never encourage your loved ones to lie!

For the ladies, you must always be careful what you buy for them. Us menfolk are at a disadvantage: we’re wired to think practical while women are wired to think sentimental. Exercise equipment might be smart, but like the fella in the Best Buy television ad who purchased exercise equipment for his sweetheart, you don’t want your wife to assume that you think that she is fat. In case you make that error, you must think fast and say, «no babe, I just want to keep you heart healthy so I have many more Christmas’ with you!»

Unfortunately, men don’t always think that fast. Better yet, if your wife tells you what she wants, get her that. You can always run over to Victoria’s Secret later to purchase lingerie which she’ll like because you like seeing her wearing it. Trust me!

Are you going to the neighbor’s for a Christmas social? Then leave the Royal Dansk cookies at home. Better yet, don’t buy them. Are they awful? No. Just too common. Like the unwanted fruitcake that gets passed around the family and neighborhood year after year the Royal Dansk cookie tin is getting the same reputation. If tasked with the responsibility of bringing a dessert and you aren’t baking, pick something up at the local bakery. It’ll be fresh and it will be eaten. Let them worry about their cholesterol level.

What should you buy the boss? Well, the standard gifts over the years have been wine or hard liquor, something for his desk [photo frame], or a personal item like a fold up umbrella. Boring! Rather, have some fun and purchase spyware for your boss so that he can spend the time snooping on his employee’s internet access. See if that wins you valuable points during review or promotion time!

Seriously, maybe the whole gift thing has gotten a little bit out of line. Maybe we should think of more practical gifts to give such as: spending time with an elderly relative; volunteering to help coach your child’s soccer team; or by making a cash donation to a relief agency in the gift recipient’s name.

Two thousand years ago the greatest gift ever given, Jesus, was freely given to mankind; I believe anyone freely receiving His love is receiving that very same gift. Jesus is one gift that perfectly suits mankind: God’s boundless love and unrestricted forgiveness.

This article originally appeared on Townstead.com, a defunct site managed by Matt Keegan. It was part of his «Life in New Jersey» series of articles.

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World Cup Soccer – How Green is the World Cup?

World Cup Soccer (Football everywhere in the world except for the USA) is now officially underway.

Billed as the biggest sporting event in the world, the World Cup generates enormous excitement. The fan base is gigantic and worldwide, and many loyal soccer fans like to travel to see their teams compete. This means a large number of spectators and players flying into South Africa, staying in hotels, getting transported to the newly-built stadiums, creating a big increase in demand for South Africa’s mostly coal-based energy. The unfortunate result is that the world’s biggest sporting event will leave one of the world’s biggest carbon footprints. The group EU Infrastructure has estimated that the 2010 World Cup will generate 2.75 million tons of CO2, 6 times larger than the last World Cup held in Germany four years ago.

But it isn’t all bad form an environmental point of view. There are some very green aspects to this year’s World Cup. For example, consider the uniforms worn by Team USA. The remarkable jerseys are made of a high performance material produced from recycled plastic bottles. The double-knit fabric is more flexible and stretchy than other fibers and the resulting jersey is 15 percent lighter than a standard soccer shirt. There is even high-tech ventilation created on the sides created from hundreds of small laser-cut holes. Other teams using these high tech, recycled jerseys are Australia, Brazil, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, and South Korea. All in all, about 13 million bottles were diverted from landfills to make the uniforms. How’s that for going green?

Public transportation to get fans to and from the stadiums will cut down on traffic and pollution from emissions. Recycling and composting are also being strongly encouraged.

Events like the World Cup are meant to be enjoyed, and they should be. I think there is a social good derived from international sporting competitions, and there are cultural benefits from the experience of international travel. The games also create a lot of personal enjoyment for the fans (and some anguish!). We should be mindful of the environmental impact of events like the World Cup, and take steps to mitigate that impact by good management, but I am for keeping these events as part of our world culture. Life is also meant to be enjoyed, and if people were not heading to South Africa to watch soccer matches, they would likely be traveling elsewhere on a vacation.

And fortunately, the impact is temporary. Once the World Cup month is over, everyone goes home and life returns to a semblance of normal. But perhaps the high-tech jerseys will catch on!

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Irish Soccer Team – 1994 World Cup

The World Cup USA 94 was a heated affair both on and off the pitch. The sweltering heat had the entire Irish team running for refreshments during the match never mind at half time and many most notably Stan Staunton had turned beetroot in colour.

The Irish had only qualified for the Finals after a late Alan McLaughlin goal against Northern Ireland in Windsor Park. The match probably one best forgotten due to its sectarian atmosphere, was aptly portrayed by Marie Jones’ in ‘A Night in November’. However Ireland marched on after the 1-1 draw due to the fact that Spain had beaten Denmark that same night.

USA 94 was a mixed tournament on and off the field for Ireland and it could be said that this was the case for football in general. It saw the demise of one of the legends of world football Diego Maradonna. He was sent home after failing a drugs test which would be the last time we would see the Argentinean maestro on the world stage. Of much greater magnitude was the fate of a Colombian defender Escobar. Colombia who had been considered a dark horse to go all the way in the tournament were tamely knocked out in the group stages. Escobar had scored an own goal against the United States, a match they lost 2-1. Tragically he paid for this with his life ten days later when he was shot outside a pub in a Medellin suburb, Colombia.

Ireland was drawn in a group with Italy, Mexico and Norway. Their first match was against Italy their victors four years previously. In the Giants Stadium the Irish team walked tall as they recorded their first ever victory in the World Cup Finals. Yet another memorable day as Ray Houghton chests down a poor header from Franco Baresi, adjusts his feet, swings a left foot, the ball loops over Gianluca Pagliuca and dips under the bar and into the net. The goal celebration says it all and determination allowed the Irish to shut out the Italians and hold on to a one nil victory.

Later on that day Irish fans and indeed the players would learn of the events at home which would overshadow that great occasion. Loyalist paramilitaries had gone into a pub full of people watching the Italy, Ireland match in Loughinisland, spraying the pub with bullets and in turn killing 6 people watching a football match. Players and fans alike were devastated as it marked another low point in Irish History and yet another atrocity added to the long list, carried out by both sides.

However the football continued and Ireland’s next match was against Mexico, a decent side which by no means lacked style as is characterised by their flamboyant Goalkeeper Campos. His jersey, designed by himself should not let us be distracted by the fact that he was one of the best Goalkeepers around at this time. It was always going to be a hard fought match with two contrasting styles, unfortunately Ireland lost out this time, going down to a 2-1 defeat. The match will be remembered more for outbursts on the touchline, as confusion and indeed a delay in John Aldridge coming on as substitute, led to rants and tempered exchanges with officials. The aftermath was that Aldridge finally came on and scored and Jack Charlton was suspended from the dugout for their next game against Norway.

The Norway game turned out to be a dull affair. Both teams lacking goals in their side and as both played similar styles it was inevitable that they would cancel each other out. The game ended nil nil, however results went their way in the other game as Mexico held Italy to a one all draw. With each team ending on four points Ireland managed to progress to the Second Round as a result of John Aldridge’s crucial goal in the defeat against Mexico.

The Second Round saw them pitched against the Dutch. The 4th July was the date and Orlando the setting. It was set up for another remarkable story, if Ireland beat a lacklustre Dutch team the prospect of playing the mighty Brazilians in the Quarters was mouth watering. However as most well laid plans end so did the hopes of the Irish team. A few defensive errors proved costly as Denis Bergkamp sent the Dutch on their way with 11 minutes on the clock and it got worse in the 41st minute when an innocuous hit and hope attempt by Jonk was fumbled by Packie Bonner into the back of the net. Unfortunately it would be the end of an era as we would not see many of the great Irish players play again on the world stage, including unbelievably Roy Keane. It was also the last tournament Jack Charlton would steer us to.

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Beckham Back to America

Beckham’s return to the Galaxy wasn’t without controversy. It coincided with the release of a book by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl. Titled «The Beckham Experiment,» it has Galaxy’s captain, Landon Donovan, criticizing Beckham extensively for his lack of commitment towards the Galaxy. Donovan also openly expressed his frustration over having the captaincy taken from him and given to Beckham. The English superstar responded by calling Donovan unprofessional for speaking without confronting him first.

Under Galaxy coach, Bruce Arena’s, watchful eye and careful mediation, the two players sat down to sort out their differences after their team’s 1-0 victory over Chivas USA. It is said that Landon apologized for his comments. And it seems Becks accepted the apology graciously. Both Beckham and Donovan will get a chance to prove that they’ve put the feud behind them when they next take the field together. Beckham has five goals and 12 assists in 30 games since he joined LA Galaxy, while Donovan leads with six goals and four assists. Let’s see which way the ball rolls!

The Galaxy is looking for a chance to make it to the playoffs. It has already won three consecutive games, capped by their win against Chivas USA. Beckham joined the Galaxy in 2007 for $32.5 million under a five year contract. Dogged by ankle and knee injuries, he managed to play just eight matches for the Galaxy that year, delivering one goal and three assists. The year 2008 saw a healthier Beckham chip in with 10 assists in 25 league matches. Though Los Angeles Galaxy missed the playoffs that year, Beckham’s presence in the number 23 soccer jersey was hugely felt with the average attendance for the games nearly doubling! And more than 400,000 Beckham Galaxy soccer jerseys have been sold in the last two years!

Becks has been at pains to prove his commitment to the Galaxy, declaring that he intends to see his five year contract through. But he’s also extremely keen to play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup next year at South Africa. If that means moving back home, it’s up for consideration! Its seems Beckham’s latest mantra in life is ‘never say never’! After all, who knows what’s to happen next! On leaving Man U, he swore ‘never’ to play for another English club and couldn’t imagine wearing another soccer uniform in the Premier League against Man U, but he’s learnt to never say never again!

As of now, amidst all the mixed signals, it seems a move back to Milan is more likely. After all, Becks still retains the right to terminate his contract after this season. The man is known to follow his heart. And his heart is clearly elsewhere…

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2010 FIFA World Cup – Team USA

This year in 2010 marks the 19th FIFA World Cup. The World Cup is to be hosted by South Africa this year. There has been a lot of talk about South Africa not being a good choice to host the cup in 2010. The FIFA World Cup is held every 4 years. Just like the Olympic games which are held every 4 years, countries from across the world take part in this extraordinary world sporting event.

The qualification process for this year’s soccer cup took place back in 2007. In August 2007 there were 204 FIFA national teams which took part in the qualifications for this year’s cup. In terms of the number of competing nations in this world event, the number is very close to that of the Summer Olympics. The USA team has qualified for this event and will be playing in Group C.

Although soccer hasn’t had a huge impact on American Sporting life, the sport has grown in popularity over the years. It is said that team USA is ranked first in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football otherwise known as CONCACAF. The United States national soccer team is ranked in the top 20 in the world.

The United States has ended up in Group C for the 2010 world soccer cup. In Group C the following countries are playing: Algeria, England, Slovenia and United States. Of the four countries in this group, I believe the strongest of these 4 are England and USA. It has been said by some that England could win the cup in 2010.

The schedule for United States is like so. It will be playing up against England on 12th of June 2010. On the 18th of June 2010 United States are up against Slovenia. It will play the Algeria on the 23rd of June 2010. The question is now whether or not they can progress through this Group C. They have England to contest with and I am very excited to see what happens in this exciting group.

Teams like USA are sporting newly designed soccer jerseys. Soccer jerseys have been designed by many famous manufacturers such as Nike and Adidas and on sale to the general public so that they can support their country. Each country have both home and away designs and they all look stunning. Team USA have a great design for 2010 and people who support them should get hold of one.

Many people sport soccer jerseys while watching the FIFA World Cup to get behind the team that they love. For Team USA supporters in the current year it means getting their very own soccer jersey and wearing it while watching this amazing sporting event.

Team USA should be able to get through their Group this year and progress to the latter stages of the World Cup. They have qualified for the last five cups and this year they are off to South Africa. In 2002, the American’s reached the quarterfinals. For the current cup in South Africa they can probably do better and reach the semifinals.

Bob Bradley is the current manager of the USA national team. He started off in 2006 and has led the team to where they are now. As the head coach of the USA national team, he has done a lot of great things to the team.

In conclusion, get behind Team USA this year because they will surely do great against the other nations. They have a great chance this year to reach the latter stages of the FIFA World Cup. Sport your very own team American soccer jersey during this year’s world sporting soccer event.

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