May 06, 2015 Sports
Says Michael Benjamin
Approximately 14 years after his photo was splashed on the front pages of the nation’s leading
newspapers after breaking the world title jinx, former World Boxing Association welterweight championship, Andrew ‘Sixhead’ Lewis was once again the center of the news, albeit under the most distressing of circumstances, having lost his life in a vehicular accident at Friendship EBD, a few villages from his Hutsonville, New Hope home.
Lewis rose to fame after stopping American, James Page, and winning the above mentioned accolade. He successfully defended against American, Larry Marks before his two epic encounters with Ricardo Mayorga; the first ending in a no contest while Lewis lost his title in the second.
Ironically, I was awoken from deep slumber with the news since I am currently recuperating from multiple fractures to my arm, sustained after a fall from one of the bleachers at the Demerara Cricket Club Ground during the semi-finals of the Kashif and Shanghai football championships.
Death is inevitable yet the loss of a loved one, especially one as full of life as ‘Sixhead,’ leaves indelible scars that appear impossible to heal. Irrespective of the contrasting views of his boxing decorum, no one dare question the authenticity of Lewis’ claim to fame—the first Guyanese to win a world title.
Earlier, Dennis Andries, a Guyanese living in Great Britain, had won a similar accolade but its authenticity was denounced by dint of the fact that Andries practiced his trade under the Union Jack while Lewis proudly draped the Golden Arrowhead over his shoulders when he entered the ring.
His feat of February 2001 brought the Guyanese nation together as each citizen, regardless of race or ethnicity, felt the euphoria of winning, for the first time in local history, a prestigious world accolade.
One cannot forget the response from the corporate community in doling out gifts when Lewis returned to Guyana. Similarly, it is impossible to forget how Government officials literally tripped over for photo ops even attempting to outdo his many benefactors.
Further, the Government, without seeking consensus, declared a national holiday and everything seemed fine, that is until the euphoria wore off. The Andrew Lewis Boxing Gym, a structure erected on Trench Road LaPenitence in honour of Lewis’ feat, has been reduced to a mere training place for our boxers but is devoid of the requisite equipment to facilitate the true growth of local pugilists.
Now referred to as the home of boxing, the gym is devoid of the most basic facility to enhance development of the pugilists and is a far cry from what it was touted to have represented at its inauguration.
Maybe, just maybe, Andrew’s demise will reinstitute the vigour and vitality among officials of the new government to truly demonstrate sincerity and a nationalistic verve to honour Lewis in the most tangible of ways by transforming the Gym to a truly national structure deserving of his accomplishment.
It is true that one is regaled by the sincerest sentiments when he/she is incapable of appreciating them. It is also true that too many awards are bequeathed posthumously while sentiments are uttered in an unrestrained fashion oft times leaving a sanctimonious stench.
‘Sixhead’ is gone, presumably to a better place but has left a legacy for other aspiring pugilists to emulate. It is too late to seek his input in further development of the noble fistic sport but his death must be seen as the beginning of life for the many boxers that are hustling to practice their trade with an aim of attaining or even eclipsing his world title feat. His demise must be transformed into his dreams if his death is to be productive.
I could almost hear Lewis’ voice in agreement; it resonates in my ear—”yo know what ah mean?”
The loss is of national proportions and Kaieteur Sport wishes to extend sincere condolences to the parents, children, brothers, sisters and every other family member affected by Andrew’s demise. May his soul rest in eternal peace!
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