Former amateur and professional multi weight boxing champion of Guyana, Jeff Roberts, now a qualified boxing coach who is back home and has established his own boxing gym, is looking to improve boxing in Berbice for the past year which was described as a fairly successful one. This is despite starting the year with not many expectations after returning home to find not much going for the sport.
Roberts was once a prominent fixture in Berbice, Guyana and the Caribbean boxing circles in the past and also campaigned for a while in North America and other parts of the world before quitting and enhancing his qualifications and acquiring his coaching certificates. Roberts represented Guyana at the amateur level on numerous occasions and as a professional, won titles in the Bantamweight division in 1980 and the Featherweight title in 1983.
Since his return home he has established his own boxing gym, the Roberts Champions Boxing Gym (RCBG) a few months ago where he coaches over 25 youngsters including both amateur and professional boxers. The training base is at the People’s National Congress (PNC) building at Strand and St Magdalene Street in New Amsterdam. The still fit and active looking Roberts recently spoke to the media in Berbice about boxing in the Ancient County during 2013.
He said that things really picked up for the last half of the year and ended on a roll. “For the last half of the year and the places that we went and the kids that we produced, I think we did well,” he opined. The success of the three U17 boxers that went to Peru for the Inaugural South American Junior games was a big step up because, Berbice has not done that before.
In August, Flyweight Michael April (52kg), bronze medal, Junior Middleweight Travis Fraser (69kg), silver medal and Bantamweight Joel Williamson (56kg), bronze medal, from Berbice, along with Tefon Greene (49kg) represented Guyana in Peru. He said that at the time the Pocket Rocket Gym was closed three months prior to the championships and he took on the mantle to train the boxers.
The year ended with Derick Richmond of East Canje flooring James Walcott in the fourth round to be crowned the Super middle Weight Champion of Guyana.
Roberts had praise for President of the Guyana Boxing Association (GBA), Steve Ninvalle, who he said was very instrumental since he took office in the development of the sport in Berbice.
Roberts added that with the closure of all the other gyms all the active boxers in Berbice are attending the Roberts Champions Boxing Gym and have being performing well. “We have produced some junior champions this year, some U16 champions and next year 2014, I think we should be doing much better.”
Despite, expecting more support from the Guyana Boxing Association (GBA), Roberts is still appreciative for the assistance he and his gym received from the parent body. Special mention was made of the recent Fight Nite card in New Amsterdam for which the association provided the ring free of cost. He also mentioned Courts, Hand-in-Hand, Berbice River Bridge and Giftland as making significant contribution towards the success of the fight card which was the first organised by the RCBG in Berbice during 2013.
However he stated that he would like to see the GBA playing a more active role in the development of the sport in the ancient county in the coming year. There is a certain amount that persons in the outlying areas can do, but support is needed, it was noted. Things like gear, such as skipping ropes, mouth guards, hand raps and gloves are among some of the things needed.
Roberts stated that for the New Year he will like to see a better working relationship between the GBA and the outlying areas. “We would definitely like to see officials of the GBA visiting and holding interactive session with the Gyms in the outlying areas more often. With that we would be able to plan better and get more out of the boxers. It will also show that the association has the outlying areas at heart.”
He stated that he is expecting good things from his fighters for the New Year, with more programmes coming on stream and hopefully with help from the GBA and with Ninvalle’s input and foresight, things should be great for Berbice.
He is also grateful to opposition leader David Granger for allowing them the opportunity to use the building. He is also using the opportunity to call on the government and the business community for support in helping him to keep the youngsters off the street and away from illicit activities. (Samuel Whyte)
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