Says Michael Benjamin
Less than 6 months after his failed bid in the biggest fight of his fledgling boxing career, in pursuit of Johnny Gonsalves’ WBC featherweight title, and merely a few weeks after hosting a press conference to outline his itinerary to reassert himself as a competent world beater, Clive ‘The Punisher’ Atwell has recently left his supporters spellbound with the news that he has officially hung up his gloves.
While the uninitiated, led to believe that Atwell was enjoying a glorious relationship with his management team, are left astonished at the suddenness of this revelation, those in the know are less surprised after detecting kinks in the union despite the well construed façade painted by Atwell and his management team that all was well.
Atwell hustled out of Mexico two days after the bout and slipped in and then out of Guyana without speaking to the media. This writer knew exactly when Atwell returned and attempted to engage him in an interview to ascertain the truth of rumours swirling around pertaining to difficulties and managerial issues encountered while he was in Mexico. Atwell assured that all was well but explained that he preferred to convene a press conference to deal with issues relating to the Mexico sojourn. This forum, hosted at the Millennium Manor Hotel, Hadfield Street, was only convened upon his return from Dominica some two weeks later.
There, Atwell definitively informed the media that the rumours concerning fractured relations within his camp were just that, rumours, and nothing more.
Despite Atwell’s pronouncements, this writer, by dint of years of experience at all levels of the fistic sport, suspected that there was definitely ‘more in the mortar than the pestle.’
At that forum also, President of the Guyana Boxing Board of Control (GBBC), Peter Abdool, had lashed out at the media for what he termed poor and shabby pre and post reporting of the fight which he said was devoid of proper investigation.
When the requisite question arose, the GBBC boss was adamant that Atwell’s was privy to astute management and his purse was negotiated to the best of their ability. To give credence to his claim Abdool even went on to outline the other alternatives available to Atwell’s management team saying that they chose the best option.
We were told that Atwell is managed by a two man group identified as ‘Dog Pound.’ During the press conference, this writer attempted to question one of those individuals on a matter of managerial concern but Mr Abdool intercepted and provided a response. It is prudent that Atwell’s manager deal with such technical issues but the GBBC boss felt that he could better answer a query dealing with a management issue than the manager himself.
Mr Abdool also zoomed in to an article appearing in this newspaper, emanating from the Mexican press, and the editor of entertaining the article which he felt was written from a biased perspective. Abdool further suggested that had local journalists done their research the contentious article would have never received such consideration.
Despite the suspicions voiced by local journalists concerning his meagre purse and the suspicions expressed between him and his management team, Atwell never mentioned a word of fractured relations within his camp nor did he complain of the treatment he received in Mexico. Nevertheless, the trained ear would have picked up a contrasting remark uttered just before the press conference ended that all was not well in his camp when he said, “I am now engaged in some housecleaning matters and in the interim my career is on hold.” We now know what he meant by that cryptic outburst.
Now that Atwell had decided to hang up his gloves one will await word from his management team on their reaction. Even before the world-rater went public, word was out that he was not on good terms with his management team and that Atwell was disgruntled over a purported demand of some two million dollars if he was to be relieved of all contractual obligations. This obviously is an interesting twist to the issue and it seems as though the multiple champion and world-rater would be best advised to seek legal redress in this matter.
During my tenure in the ring, under the Presidency of the late Frederick Rampersaud, I have had cause to seek redress on issues concerning management and have had my matters investigated and commendably resolved at that level. One wonders whether Atwell could attempt the same ploy and seek redress at the level of the GBBC. When the issue is examined and all is taken into consideration, doubts pervade the mind. One is not yet certain of Mr Abdool’s role; is he GBBC President/Atwell manager or is he basically performing the role of Caribbean Boxing Association/GBBC President?
Currently, there are two other principals that claim to head the Dog Pound group that manages Atwell’s affairs. We are still to be briefed on their reaction to Atwell’s pronouncements and whether they have attempted to talk him out of it.
Of greater importance is the question of the duration of the managerial contract. Did Atwell extend his contract to an additional two years before the fight or did he agree to the extended time only if he had been successful in his title bid? If the answer is the former, were there conditions to the extension of the contract?
Atwell chose to flee to Dominica and harpoon his management team and expects the media to report verbatim on the issues affecting him without the benefit of clarification.
It is also puzzling that during a function to honour him in his home village, Agricola, just after the press conference, that not a word was spoken of his decision to quit though most of the reasons proffered by him for his retirement seem to have existed before that forum. One is even tempted to ask why Atwell declined to discuss his problems with the elders of the Agricola community even after they had celebrated his return with a motorcade while committed to his continued nurturing. It just does not add up.
Whatever the details that constituted the fallout between Atwell and his management, officials of the GBBC should mediate to an amicable resolution. Atwell’s decision to throw in the towel at this juncture of his career is ill advised and could reflect negatively on the development of the sport. He seems fixed on his decision but hopefully, he could seek mediation as it is not too late to repair the damage wrought.
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