Sat, Aug 04, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Taekwondo fighter financed Olympic bid through brothel

AFP, WELLINGTON

A taekwondo fighter who helped fund his Olympic dream by running a brothel has rejected being labeled a “pimp” because prostitution is legal in his native New Zealand.

Logan Campbell, who is in London to represent New Zealand next week in the men’s under-68kg division, opened a brothel in Auckland in 2009, when he was struggling to raise funds for his campaign to be in the Games.

At the time, the New Zealand Olympic Committee warned Campbell his association with the 14-room brothel, which he described as a high-class “gentleman’s club,” could damage his chances of Olympic selection.

Campbell, 26, sold the establishment in early 2010 and the proceeds, along with funding from the New Zealand’s elite sporting body SPARC, allowed him to train full-time, resulting in his selection for the Games in March.

He told Yahoo Sports he was reluctant to talk about the brothel, but wanted to clear up the misconception that he was a pimp.

“I sold the brothel, so I don’t really want to talk about it now, OK,” he told the Web site. “It’s a legal business in New Zealand, it’s completely different from other countries in the world ... no one was forced into the industry, and they’re not doing it because they are in poverty because we have a really good welfare system. It’s more of like a higher-class thing than you see around the world.”

New Zealand decriminalized prostitution in 2003, allowing brothels and street workers to operate legally under strict conditions.

Campbell, who finished in the top 16 of the under-58kg division in Beijing and is now ranked world No. 12 under-68kg, said the publicity generated by his brothel had probably helped taekwondo win funding in New Zealand.

“I think it finally put a spotlight on our sport, as soon as I was in the media and stuff,” he said. “We had never had funding, ever, ever in the history of taekwondo, and all of a sudden it was, like, bam! There was this funding, so it was sweet.”

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