By Michael Benjamin
They left Guyana a confident bunch, very upbeat about winning the inaugural Tri Nation Inter Guiana
boxing competition staged in Cayenne, French Guiana March 14 last. However, when the smoke was cleared the French boxers carted off the lion’s share of the titles after those local pugilists selected for national duty failed to make the desired impression and eventually surrendered the championship to the host nation.
Ever since local boxers failed to meet the qualifying criteria of the 2012 London Olympics, the administrators of the Guyana Boxing Association (GBA) have embarked on a rigid training programme under the tutelage of Cuban Coach, Francisco Hernandez Roldan, with an aim of creating as much international exposure for local pugilists with an eye on improved performances at the imminent 2016 Brazil Olympiad. Those administrators have reasoned that such strategies would support the pivotal objective of enhancing the boxers’ skill level while they (boxers) competed against high quality international opposition.
To this effect, amateur boxers have fought in Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, Barbados, Chile and quite recently, French Guiana. Should one examine the returns he/she would be forced to wonder aloud whether Roldon’s input supported by the overseas outings are producing the desired results.
The truth is that while there have been sporadic instances of success a panoramic view reveals a totally contrasting view. While enjoying home advantage in the invitational tournament against St Lucia, local boxers were on top and came away with the lion’s share of the medals on offer. It was also noteworthy that a local team returned to St Lucia shortly afterwards and some of our boxers maintained the
tempo after securing wins; Delon Charles and Ron Smith both won their bouts in clinical fashion after Charles disposed of Gervais Capron of Martinique in 2:34secs of the third round and Smith closed off St Lucian, Nyran David in 2:13secs of the first stanza of their 69kgs elite affair. Bert Braithwaite won his bout against his St Lucian nemesis, Lynden ‘Russian’ Marcellin, here in Guyana but the St Lucian avenged that loss when those two engaged in a brutal trilogy in the return leg of the tournament in St Lucia.
St Lucia won the championships after amassing 17 points with 3 gold medals, 2 silvers and 4 bronze while Guyana finished in the 2nd place with 8 points after clinching 2 gold medals and one silver. Martinique finished in the cellar with 6 points after winning 2 silvers and a similar number of bronze medals.
Consequently, a team of two officials and a similar number of boxers out of French Guiana visited Guyana just after the President of the Surinam Amateur Boxing Association had departed. Based on discussions and agreement, plans for Guyana’s participation in the Tri-Nation boxing championships were birthed.
Those pugilists selected for national duty in French Guiana were female boxers Taseka Howard (54kgs) and Dwon Thompson (80kgs) while the male team comprised elite boxers Delon Charles (56kgs), Aquincy Harvey (64kgs), Glenroy Smith and Eon Bancroft (69kgs), Dennis Thomas (81kgs) and Trevon King (90kgs). Steel Crawford assisted Roldan in coaching duties, while Germin Craig and Medford Wilson travelled in the capacity of referee/judge with Gordon Nedd as the manager. These officials will be in a better position to speak of the inconsistencies in the judging and referring department.
Two of the local boxers, Bancroft and Thomas were the only ones to win their respective bouts against Axel Cetout and Leonardo Mosquea respectively. Taseka Howard was very unlucky to have had her bout stopped early in the third round of her 54kgs bout against Eliane Abissouana. There was really no justification for the stoppage which reeked of impartiality but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Diwani Lamkin fought his heart out and most of the spectators, excluding the judges, felt that he had won hands down. Boncroft ensured that his bout went his way after a two fisted onslaught that left no room for controversy but there were several discrepancies in relation to his discipline that should be laid before a GBA disciplinary committee for perusal and possible sanctions. Thomas was the most senior boxer and it was delightful to see him turn back the psychological ploys of his opponent at the weigh in and his subsequent approach to the fight against Mosquea, undoubtedly the top dog of the French team. The Frenchman became riled up and out of frustration dealt Thomas a butt which forced the referee to call a halt and awarded the bout to the Guyanese.
The other boxers all turned in dismal performances and it seems obvious that their development must commence from personal introspection. Charles’ loss was a surprise, not because he lost but basically due to his application. He was not the same boxer that I had seen in Guyana and St Lucia against quality opponents.
This writer spoke with several of the boxers just after the curtains were drawn and the similarity of complaints seem to suggest a greater need to support their physical development with philosophical and psychological input. Maybe, Mr. Ninvalle could huddle with his executives and put the modalities in place that will utilize the expertise and knowledge of past stalwarts to bolster the psychological strength of local pugilists. Such a ploy once carefully and meticulously implemented might just be the answer to the revitalization of the qualitative performances of our stalwarts on the international scene.
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