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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2007, 06:51 GMT 07:51 UK
Shot boxer still critically ill
James Oyebola
James Oyebola retired from boxing in 1996
A former British heavyweight boxer who was shot when he asked customers at a club to stop smoking is still critically ill in hospital.

James Oyebola, 47, was shot in the head and leg in a courtyard at the back of Chateau 6 in Fulham Road, south-west London, in the early hours of Monday.

His attackers opened fire as they left the club and fled in different directions on foot.

Police said four shots were fired but no weapon had been found.

'Horrible crime'

Mr Oyebola, known as Big Bad during his fighting career, went to Chateau 6 at about 2300 BST for a drink with the owner after finishing work at a nearby bar.

Shortly before 0100 BST he was shot after stepping in to help staff who had asked three men to stub out their cigarettes.

Det Ch Insp Scott Wilson said up to 40 people were in the club at the time of the shooting.

"It is a horrible crime to happen anywhere but over nothing - an incident such as smoking - these people need to be caught," he said.

Bronze medallist

A spokesman for the family said it was too early to speculate on Mr Oyebola's condition.

"James is in a critical condition in the High Dependency Unit of Charing Cross Hospital," their solicitor Scott Ewing said.

"Until the highly-experienced doctors treating James decide to reduce the level of sedation it is not possible to ascertain the level of damage or prognosis."

Mr Oyebola, who was born in Nigeria and lived in north-west London, won 18 of his 23 fights, and was a bronze medallist at the 1986 Commonwealth Games.

He retired three years after winning the WBC international heavyweight title in 1993.


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