Former boxer dedicated to improvement of the sport in Berbice
By Michael Benjamin
Boxers of the Pocket Rocket Boxing Gym (PRBG) managed to impress Cuban Coach, Francisco Roden when that official visited Berbice on a Guyana Amateur Boxing Association (GABA) sponsored, fact finding mission to that County recently.
Following that visit, promising boxer, Joel Richardson, received plaudits from the Cuban Coach who has spotlighted him as a possible candidate for the 2016 Olympics slated for neighbouring Brazil.
Mr. Roden was accompanied by GABA Tournament Director, Terrence Poole and the two officials spent most of the time of their two-day visit at the Pocket Rocket Boxing Gym (PRBG) delivering lectures and practical lessons to the youngsters from several gyms in that Region.
Coach of the PRBG, Orlan ‘Pocket Rocket’ Rogers, a former professional pugilist, feels that the initiative was long overdue and that his charges benefitted immensely.
Rogers, who had been instrumental in the revitalization of the sport in that region, admitted that despite his most strenuous efforts, the sport continues to receive lukewarm reception. He said that residents are more cricket oriented, resulting in poor responses to boxing promotions.
Rogers had attempted the inaugural ProAm Boxing card in Berbice some years ago but failed to attract the crowds. “This is a cricket loving region and it is not easy to attract supporters to the fistic sport,” lamented Rogers.
He said that he had suggested reforms and had sought an audience with GABA Executive but was informed that they were occupied with issues pertaining to Guyana’s participation at the London Olympics.
Local boxers have since failed in their attempts to qualify for the forum but Rogers said he is still to receive word from GABA officials.
In the meantime, Rogers said that his desire to create a more boxing friendly environment in Berbice has led him to initiate boxing cards starting tomorrow afternoon with a public exhibition at a venue still to be decided.
He also said that he had wanted to host a three weeks summer programme but had to abort those plans because of insufficient funding. Rogers also appealed to the powers of the GABA for a boxing ring to facilitate promotions in the Ancient County.
He said that his perseverance has resulted in a positive response from an overseas based businessman, Joel Schwartz, who has committed to donating trophies and other prizes towards the organization of three cards featuring amateur pugilists from the region shortly. He said that he is examining the prospects as well as the date of the card.
The PRBG currently boasts a membership four professional fighters and 6 amateur boxers. Despite being relatively new, the PRBG is regarded as one of the leading institutions in Berbice and recently, officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs donated more than $300,000 worth of boxing equipment towards the continued development of the pugilists of that entity.
Items consisted of skipping ropes, boxing gloves, head guards, punching bags, mitts, wrapping bandages, mouth guards, an overhead ball complete with the rack and speed balls among other equipment. Richard and Joel Williamson and Jamal Eastman are but a few of the remarkable talent emerging from his gym.
Rogers is adamant that with favourable support these numbers can increase and the youngsters of Berbice may find the requisite outlet for their pent up energies. He believes that the GABA and business entities hold the answer to such development of the sport and he plans to continue agitating for their support.
Photos of Francisco Roden, Terrence Poole and Orlan Rogers