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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Steffensen swaps spikes for gloves

Steffensen swaps spikes for gloves

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1 Steffensen swaps spikes for gloves on Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:23 pm



Steffensen swaps spikes for gloves

By Daniel Lane
Sydney Morning Herald
September 16, 2012

Combative … John Steffensen takes the baton in the
4x400m relay at the London Games. Photo: Pat Scala

OUTSPOKEN Olympic 400-metre runner John Steffensen is in Thailand where he is being trained for a possible shot at an Australian boxing title by former triple world champion Jeff Fenech.

While Steffensen said he was still to commit fully to the idea of boxing, Fenech told The Sun-Herald he believed the 31-year-old, who was the West Australian Golden Gloves champion as a teenager, appeared good enough to fight for the national title in his professional debut.

While he was being put through his paces in Bangkok, Athletics Australia picked a boardroom brawl with Steffensen by demanding a ''please explain'' for the accusations he levelled at the organisation during the London Olympic Games.

When teenager Steve Solomon was selected ahead of him to compete in the 400m, Steffensen declared racism existed in the sport, while he used his Twitter account to accuse Dallas O'Brien, AA's chief executive, of lying to him.

The Sun-Herald understands that Steffensen compiled a detailed letter through his lawyer to respond to AA's questions. The sport's board of directors will soon decide whether he needs to attend a tribunal hearing and face possible sanctions.

Steffensen remained unrepentant and said he'd simply illuminated problems in his sport. He insisted regardless of the outcome of his latest battle, officialdom would not end his career.

''My lawyer and I decided we won't let them beat us and we'll fight it hard,'' he said. ''They won't ever take my talent away and they can't take my ability to run away.''

Steffensen said he had struggled with AA's demand for him to name those people who had racially vilified him over the years. He'd formed friendships with some of the athletes who'd offended him with derogatory comments and feared shaming them in an open forum could destroy their reputations, if not their lives.

''A lot of the time there was no [official] avenue for me to complain to,'' he said. ''I had to sort it out myself and whether it was right or wrong, I fronted the person and educated them about the pain their comments caused me and others.

''When I mentioned racism at the Olympics, I vented my frustration of seven years' worth of asking my federation to do something. While there are some good people in AA, they aren't in positions of power and I [ultimately] lost all hope in depending on my federation [to act]. If you listen to what I said [in London] I said I'd been racially vilified on many teams before; whether it was another athlete calling me a black c--- or an official calling me a black c---, it happened. It should've been dealt with in 2008 or 2004 or 2003, but when I complained to the federation nothing was done.''

Steffensen believed he'd sacrificed a lot due to his anti-racism stance. ''I've sacrificed commercial opportunities because people don't want to hear what I talk about and while there's people who made a mockery about what I've said, I at least got the message out there,'' he said. ''But I've copped the loss in the hope it helps future generations.''

Fenech believes Steffensen could succeed in boxing. ''From what I've seen at training I think it's 100 per cent there,'' Fenech said. ''[World middleweight champion] Daniel Geale is a great kid and John is a lot like him, he has a lovely temperament and I respect him a lot. I honestly believe John could beat everybody in Australia.''

Steffensen, though, refused to talk himself up as a walk-up champion. ''Boxing takes a lot of dedication and I would not disrespect the fighters that work very hard by saying stuff,'' he said. ''However, if I was to give boxing my all, I believe I could do well.''

2 Re: Steffensen swaps spikes for gloves on Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:17 am


im glad for johns sake that the expletive ''fat'' was not included in any derogatory remarks to him,a famous rugby league team coach'' south sydney'' about 6 years ago was sacked for adding ''fat'' to remarks to player. that seems to be a very bad word,

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