Tuesday 29 April 2014

Review of Kelong King

So Wilson Raj Perumal’s memoirs are out. I had to read it as soon as the ebook landed in my inbox. I can’t and won’t comment on the factual content of the book – more on the tone. Wilson portrays himself as a friendly match-fixer but one with a nasty streak. This is exactly the kind of person I tried to give an image of with ‘Cedric’ the match-fixer in Off The Chest (Perumal in mind). This image is hard to buy though. Reading Wilson’s narration of the ‘Hockey Stick’ incident, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was the victim. In fact he plays the victim throughout the book – sometimes justified, sometimes not.

I want to write about the topic which was the basis for Off The Chest. Wilson Raj Perumal is a gambler of the sickest variety. Though the world was his oyster, fixing matches across the globe, he is quite possibly net-down from gambling. How is this possible? In the book he admits to placing extortionate amounts on games it was impossible to fix. Why would anyone bet on games they cannot fix when they can live comfortably forever off the back of matches they can fix? The key is in the adrenalin buzz. At first fixing games is a thrill. Then comes the ego boost of knowing you control a player, a referee, a team or even a country. But when the dust settles and the winnings are collected, the thrill begins to subside. If you know the result already, where is the danger? Wilson began fixing matches for profit. But even if you believe his ‘Robin Hood’ mentality of helping poverty stricken players, in the end, everything was to feed his gambling. He’d get to work but then blow all the profits. Rinse and repeat. As he admits himself, a more intelligent man would have spotted the sharks circling. But a less greedy man would surely have retired years before.

Is this the end of Wilson Raj Perumal? I didn’t read anything that suggested he was remorseful. It is quite incredible how many matches he and his superiors, partners and underlings were able to fix. Over a million fans have watched games in the stadium corrupted by his antics. Tens of millions at home – and for a while, the majority of them never knew what was happening.

This book is reasonably well written and there a considerable number of amusing and interesting stories. My favourite is regarding the coin toss of Nigeria vs Argentina. Knowing they couldn’t bribe Juan Roman Riquelme to allow Nigeria to kick-off, one of players told him that the Nigerians desperately wanted to kick-off due it being a good omen. That way both angles were covered. Argentina won the toss but Nigeria were allowed to kick-off – Riquelme was duped!
The saying honour amongst thieves doesn’t seem to apply in the match-fixing world. There are rip-offs, thefts, framings, ratting, double crosses, violence and even murder. One thing’s for certain – life is never dull.

I recommend people buy this book. I read it in nine hours non-stop.  

It’s about time someone made a football film with match-fixing as the underlying theme. Maybe Wilson can be match-fixer turned consultant or even an actor.  

I would say ‘All hail the Kelong King’. But Perumal gives that title to another. Maybe he’s a modest man after all.

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