May 01, 2013 Sports
– just the antidote for local boxers’ advancement
Local boxing buffs who flocked the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall (then the National Sports Hall) during the late seventies and early eighties will reminisce with a tinge of nostalgia of the great battles between Guyanese amateur pugilists and their Cuban counterparts during yearly exchange programmes.
The battles were brutal and both countries would have enjoyed great benefits from the programme. Michael Anthony Parris’ bronze medal feat at the 1980 Moscow Olympics when the Cuba/Guyana exchange programmes were in effect bears evidence of this contention.
Amidst the hype and fantasies, Cuban boxers were relegated to the periphery, principally due to the rigid communistic policy of the Fidel Castro regime that precluded their participation in professional bouts.
Now, some five-decades after that ban was instituted, Cuban authorities have bowed to international adaptations and are joining an international semipro league where fighters will compete for sponsored teams, box without protective headgear and earn $1,000 to $3,000 a month.
Cuba has a rich boxing heritage but the changing face of the sport have precipitated those changes or forced that country into the ignominy of world isolation. This move represents a big step for the island’s Communist authorities, who have maintained that pro sports were not in keeping with Marxist social ideals.
It also comes at a time when officials of the Guyana Boxing Association (GBA) have joined with those of the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) to dole out monthly stipends to a select group of local amateurs to offset their stringent expenses.
The country has a long and storied boxing tradition and is usually a force at international amateur tournaments. This move represents a big step for the island’s Communist authorities, who long ago decided pro sports were not in keeping with Marxist social ideals.
Stephenson passed away about two years ago and was regarded as a hero but left boxing buffs worldwide speculating on what might have been had he gone against Castro’s communistic ideals and accepted the biggest payday of his career against Muhammad Ali in a bout dubbed ‘The Greatest Fight That Never Was.’
Meanwhile, Cuba’s inauguration to the professional arena commences with the World Series of Boxing, organized by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) and competition begins in November.
Guyanese pugilists are also perched to reclaim the successes of the glory days when a team of elite boxers, from among those identified to receive the monthly stipend, gear up to travel to Cuba to attend the Roberto Balado and the Cardova Cardin boxing tournaments scheduled for Cuba sometime in May and June next.
While President of the Guyana Boxing Association (GBA), Steve Ninvalle remains hopeful of accruing the requisite funding to facilitate the trip, Cuban coach, Francisco Roldan told Kaieteur Sport that the championships would serve our boxers well.
He said that some of the best talent out of his home country would be participating in the tournament and local amateur boxers would benefit immensely from participation. Señor Roldon trains the local squad every afternoon at the Andrew Lewis Boxing Gym Albouystown and strongly supports Guyana’s involvement in the Cuban tournament.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ninvalle remains adamant that his charges will have to attend international competitions of this nature if they are to procure major accolades or even break the Olympic Gold medal jinx.
This journalist would have witnessed when Mr. Ninvalle handed over the document that detailed his executives’ itinerary for his charges over the next few years in response to a request by the subject Minister, Frank Anthony.
The Cuban sojourn will obviously test the goodwill of Mr. Anthony and his input will determine the size of the eventual squad to the Spanish speaking country as well as other international engagements of the local pugilists.
AIBA President C.K. Wu recently commented on Cuba’s decision when he said, “We are extremely pleased to welcome Cuba to the World Series of Boxing; with a total of 116 World medals inclusive of 67 Olympic ones, Cuban boxers have always lived at the pinnacle of our sport and we are convinced that this new franchise will bring WSB to an even higher level.”
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