Alan Hubbard

In recent days we have been treated to perfect examples of how Americans can be such sore losers. Their two leading heavyweights have both called foul after being soundly defeated, claiming they were cheated out of their respective titles.

There is Donald Trump, whose eccentric Presidency of the United States is officially coming to an end when he was deposed by fellow septuagenarian Joe Biden; and, an extraordinary 10 months after he was battered in his own backyard by Britain’s Tyson Fury, we hear Deontay Wilder belatedly bellowing "fix", alleging his drinking water was "spiked" and his opponent’s gloves illegally "loaded" - injected with a heavy substance which he says left a dent in his cheek.

Fighting from the red corner, Republican Trump screams blue murder that much of the Democrat postal voting was fraudulent and refuses to accept the result. Out of the blue corner, Wilder now sees red over the loss of his crown in a bout which left him heavy-legged and all over the place.

Of course both sets of allegations are firmly rejected, even ridiculed by those in the Biden and Fury camps, but it just goes to show how politics and boxing go hand in glove - certainly as far as Trump the grump is concerned. He has a keen knowledge of both ignoble arts.

It is hard to take the claims of both defeated parties seriously. Those of us who witnessed a reformed, rejuvenated Fury dismantle the hitherto unbeaten Beijing Olympic bronze medallist who was said to be the most powerful puncher in boxing history cannot be convinced the Gypsy King’s conquest was anything other authentic, a brilliant switch to an aggressive tactical plan which took a bemused Wilder completely by surprise.

Deontay Wilder had previously blamed his defeat on an elaborate ringwalk costume ©Getty Images
Deontay Wilder had previously blamed his defeat on an elaborate ringwalk costume ©Getty Images

The Bronze Bomber was beaten fair and square yet his immediate reaction was to sack his trainer, a decent man named Mark Breland, a much respected former world welterweight and Golden Gloves champion, for throwing in the towel in the seventh round as the referee, Kenny Bayless, seemed about to step in to save Wilder from further hurt and humiliation.

Last week Wilder claimed that Breland also spiked his water, a clear inference that he believed the trainer was working for the opposition. "My water was spiked as if I took a muscle relaxer or something like that," he said. "It was like I had no control over my legs over my body. My legs were weak." He suggested Breland dropped a drug into his water between rounds and, even more outlandishly, that Fury's regulation eight-ounce gloves had been deliberately tampered with in the dressing room beforehand to make them heavier.

He insisted that it was all "part of a plot" to deprive him of his World Boxing Council title.

The veteran promoter of the fight in Las Vegas, American Bob Arum, points out that the Nevada State Athletic Commission would never allow Fury into the ring with loaded gloves and that a representative of Team Wilder was also in the dressing room while the gloves were being fitted.

Fury’s British promoter Frank Warren described Wilder’s rant as "sad and stupid". He told the YouTube channel BlightyBoxing: "I quite like Deontay but I don’t know why he is coming out with this rubbish, he’s embarrassing himself. Anyone with any brains knows it is ridiculous. 

"As far as the gloves are concerned he knows everything is overseen and signed off by the local commission. As for the spiked water it sounds to me as if he’s been drinking some spiked stuff before coming out with all this. It’s a shame. It’s not going to change anything."

Donald Trump is so far refusing to go quietly ©Getty Images
Donald Trump is so far refusing to go quietly ©Getty Images

One reason why Wilder may be making these Trump-like allegations is that he has allowed the time limit on the contract for a scheduled third fight between the pair next year to expire and Fury is instead taking a contest against a yet-to-be-named opponent in London next month - with a view to an all-British showdown with co-world champion and 2012 Olympic gold medallist champion Anthony Joshua in the spring before the Tokyo Games.

Well, so much for the boxing politics. But what about the real thing? As I said Trump has experience of both worlds, and has shown he knows how to fight dirty.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s he dabbled as a boxing promoter in several major fights and made himself part of Mike Tyson’s team as his "financial advisor".

I actually met him in 1988 in Atlantic City where he had three hotel-casinos in which Iron Mike had fought. This time Tyson was facing the highly-rated Michael Spinks - a bout which lasted all of 93 seconds.

Myself and a couple of other British scribes had tea with him in the Trump Plaza the day before the fight and he came across as pleasant and engaging, eager to talk boxing and blow the Trump trumpet for Tyson. Who would have thought we were sipping our Earl Grey - his favourite tipple as a teetotaller - with the most contentious future President of the US?

The young, fresh-faced Trump had quickly learned all the tricks of the boxing trade.

He even suggested Tyson’s rape conviction and jail sentence could be held over so that the heavyweight champ could fight Evander Holyfield with the proceeds from the then-richest fight in history going to rape victims.

In boxing’s cut-throat world of deals, and smokescreens, the real estate entrepreneur was quite at home, even teaching seasoned US promoters a thing or two.

Muhammad Ali was said to be unimpressed by Donald Trump ©Getty Images
Muhammad Ali was said to be unimpressed by Donald Trump ©Getty Images

Business partners and rivals, such as promoters Arum and Kathy Duva, have subsequently both told the Daily Telegraph that Trump "burnt them financially", manipulating a deal with them as site host for a fight between Holyfield and George Foreman in Atlantic City in 1991.

Octogenarian Arum claimed he and fellow promoter Dan Duva, late husband of Kathy, were "swindled" out of $2.5 million (£1.9 million/€2.1 million), with Trump walking away with a huge profit. Kathy Duva says that Trump was "a natural promoter".

She explained that "he most definitely promoted himself into the Presidency in exactly the same way he promoted fights and has promoted himself his whole life. He could say things and it would sound completely outrageous but by the time he got through it was the truth."

As Trump wrote in The Art of the Deal, his bestseller: "One thing I’ve learned about the press is that they’re always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational the better. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration - and a very effective form of promotion."

Tyson had endorsed him at the last election, as did Foreman and promotional czar Don King. But Muhammad Ali sussed him out when they met some time before Ali’s death. 

Thomas Hauser, the former champion’s official biographer and a renowned writer, who once cited Trump as "a mentally unstable narcissist with fascist tendencies", recalled: "I was at a dinner with Muhammad in Atlantic City in the mid-1990s at the Trump Taj Mahal, which became the Taj Mahal after it went bankrupt. It was a celebratory dinner where Muhammad was honoured. We were sitting at the same table as Trump and halfway through the evening Muhammad leaned over to me and said of Trump, 'He’s not as big as he thinks he is'."

How fitting a label that is today, and for Deontay Wilder too.