Dec 14, 2000, New York. ©
WHO IS MIKE CORBY?
If you have any interest in squash at all you will have heard the name
Mike Corby, a v-p of the World Squash Federation.
Last Saturday he became president of England’s
Squash Rackets Association, which taking note of England’s founding power
in the sport, makes Mr. Corby a fairly powerful man. There are two very good
reasons for wanting Corby in these positions: 1) He was one of Britain’s most
successful sportsmen, having won over 150 caps in both squash and field hockey.
Indeed, if the seasons for both sports hadn’t clashed (squash was then regarded
as a winter sport) he would have represented England and Great Britain on
many more occasions. Not that young Mike was, as they say nowadays, a good
role-model. He liked to party, especially with attractive girls and more than
one team manager blew a fuse trying to get young Corby to get an early night
in readiness for an important match the next day.
Corby’s response was always the same:”
While I deliver the goods, I’ll got to bed when I want.”
THE TALE OF THE
TIE THAT WASN’T
There is also the famous tale of the tie-less Corby, which has now passed
into squash lore; He was playing a match at the very staid RAC Club in Pall
Mall. It’s a huge club, about a forehand lob away from Buckingham Palace.
One of the dress rules is that Gentlemen must always wear a tie. (This rule
isapsed when playing squash or swimming). For reasons not known, Corby did
not have a tie, and by a bit of subterfuge managed to get past the uniformed
doorman. They spotted him and gave chase up and down the sweeping double staircase
that leads down to the squash courts. They never did catch him, but he was
a marked man after that.
HOW A SIX LETTER
WORD WAS WORTH Â£40,000
Not that Mike worries about his youthful transgressions. Indeed, when The
Independent Newspaper got carried away and stupidly called him a ‘lecher’
in print, he set his lawyers on them, got a Â£25,000 out-of-court settlement,
spent it on a Ferrari which he sold a year later for Â£40,000.
Back in 1971 when he was working in Lloyds
Insurance in The City, London’s financial district, he spotted some construction
around London Bridge and saw an opportunity to open a squash club – there
were none in that area at the time. After speaking to numerous banks, he got
the backing once he’d signed up 500 new members. Now he owns a string of clubs
around London and manages a few more making the Mike Corby Group a major player
in the health industry. And now Mike is a pretty rich guy.
He is still passionate about the sport and generous with his money, once paying
Chris Dittmar Â£1,000 a match to play in the Corby Lambs Club Super League
team. His post-match dinners were quite glorious with excellent food and wine
for players, managers, press, referees and anybody else that fitted the bill.
Two years ago when the British Open was
tottering on the edge of cancellation due to lack of a sponsor, Corby stepped
forward and told the SRA he would underwrite any losses. When the accounts
were in, Corby was Â£45,000 the poorer. He often allows his clubs to be used
for tournaments at no charge (the Universalsportsclub Classic was held at
Lambs for free) and if he believes in something he’ll put his money where
his mouth is.
Two years ago he was made a v-p of the
WSF specifically charged with getting squash into the Olympics, a task he
is still putting all his energies into. As president of the SRA he will almost
certainly be making his presence felt, already planning to get organisers,
sponsors and press together in January for a conference on how to increase
the awareness of the sport. His commercial accomplishments will be a welcome
addition to all areas of the sport.
THE YOUNG TURK
Canada went to the Pan Am squash championships as number one seeds in both
men’s and women’s event based on their golden cleanup in the Pan Am Games
in Winnipeg last year. But there was no sign of Jonathon Power, Graham Ryding,
Scott Patrick or Shahier Razik on the men’s team. Instead the Canadians sent
a development team under manager Gene Turk.
When Victor Berg had to withdraw due to
injury, Turk stepped in as third string. The last time he played for Canada
was in 1991. But what’s a decade between friends? Turk still won but Canada’s
men had to be content with fourth place, despite having Ian Power, Jonathan’s
brother in the team. The Canadian women did much better: Margo Green won gold
in the individual and the women’s team took gold after a close 2/1 over Brazil,
the host country.
Further to my story about Singapore looking for lost nationals to settle there,
Rachael Grinham, the Australian who couldn’t play for her country in the world
team champs, told me that the rumor of her becoming a Singaporean are not
(yet) true. She admitted that she had been approached and the offer is “out
there” but she has made no decisions.
Amjad Khan had also threatened to move to Singapore because of lack of support
from the Pakistani Squash Federation. And now he has dropped to 28 in the
world rankings, Pakistan is without a player in the top 20 for the first time
since world rankings began. Their performance in world championships has been
on a constant descent and now Jahangir Khan is beginning to show his anger
at the way the men in the Pakistan Squash Federation(PSF)have been running
He is speaking out for the first time
directly criticising the way decisions are made and is particularly incensed
that the treasurer of the PSF was appointed coach of the Pakistani team for
the Asian championships. “What does a treasurer know about team squash?” was
one of JK’s comments. Jahangir is well aware of the lack of planning: when
he turned up at Princeton for the World Men’s Junior Championship in 1998
he was the coach of the Pakistan team. He had been appointed just weeks before
the event began and told me then that he’d had no time to train the players
and they were under-prepared. Let’s watch developments in Karachi.