Berbicians protest omission of homeboy from Olympics box off squad
A team of amateur Boxers left Guyana yesterday morning for Brazil to participate in an
Olympic Box off from May 4-13 and while administrators of the Guyana Amateur Boxing Association (GABA) are upbeat about the boxers’ chances at qualifying, Boxing administrators out of the Ancient County of Berbice are disappointed and disgruntled following the omission of amateur boxing champion Richard Williamson from the national squad.
A resident of Berbice, Williamson was the only boxer from the rural community selected for consideration on the national team. The young man had anticipated his inclusion and had attended regular training sessions in Georgetown while foregoing work, school, and family commitments.
He had also endured many challenges while anticipating the reward of representing his Country at the games. GABA officials blamed the lack of adequate funding for his omission but these claims lack credibility especially since at least three of the selected boxers lack the requisite credentials as those of Williamson.
Williamson is undoubtedly one of the top amateur boxers in Guyana and earned the right to represent his Country after defeating all comers including top Olympics contender, Imran ‘Magic’ Khan whom he fought thrice.
He lost twice but avenged one of those defeats and had planned to replicate the feat in a bout dubbed ‘the decider.’ However, that fight was aborted after Khan sustained an injury to his shoulder following an ‘out of ring’ infraction with another man.
Williamson had earned the right for favourable consideration following successful overseas sojourns where he procured gold and silver medals. He was denied a gold medal after losing to a Trinidadian of Guyanese parentage, under questionable circumstances even after the Guyanese pugilist had registered an earlier victory over this particular boxer.
Meanwhile, several coaches and other sports personalities out of Berbice have expressed disappointment at the turn of events. Williamson’s Coach and mentor, Orland ‘Pocket Rocket’ Rogers questioned the methodology used to select the team. He said that GABA officials have extended flimsy excuses, among them, lack of adequate funding.
“Why is it that after six months of preparation including one month of intense training, that GABA executives only now realize that they have insufficient funding?” Rogers wanted to know. He feels that the mere fact that the boxers are representing their Country should be enough to attract adequate funding.
Former amateur boxing champion and coach, Michael Crawford was also distraught at the turn of events. He lashed out at President of GABA, Steve Ninvalle and Tournament Director, Terrence Poole saying that they should hang their heads and resign from their respective positions.
“These officials were in charge of the boxers that disappeared in the USA after participating in the CAC Games in Puerto Rico yet there were no sanctions. The fact that these two officials are still in charge speaks to the callous inefficiency of executives.
Crawford said that Ninvalle had said that he had tendered his resignation after the incident but the executive had refused to accept, instead giving him a resounding vote of confidence. “I have worked with young Williamson and I know that he stood a great chance of winning a medal and earning qualification to the impending Olympics,” asserted Crawford.
Founder of the Unity of The Nation Organization, Eli Hazel, also a boxing official and community leader was also livid by the turn of events. He feels that since Ninvalle is a part of the government and should have sought intervention at that level.
Community leader, Pastor David Rose was also unhappy with what transpired. He had been a part of Williamson development and feels that the boxer’s involvement in the sport has been instrumental in steering him clear of trouble with the law.
He is adamant that Williamson’s omission is naked discrimination. “They always do this to Berbicians,” he ranted. “After all the buildup, hype and expectation, not to mention the expenditure, then they just dump the young man. This is preposterous!”
Meanwhile, Williamson, the nephew of former national boxing champion and world rater Howard Eastman and who hails from the depressed community of Angoy’s Avenue (Cow Dam) New Amsterdam, is so despondent that he is contemplating fighting professionally. (Samuel Whyte)