May 25, 2015 Sports
GBBC President, Peter Abdool proposes national monument in his honour
The recent death of former World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight champion, Andrew ‘Sixhead’ Lewis has left a void, not only in the boxing fraternity but, to my mind, the entire nation. This missive is written expressly to foster a better appreciation of the volume of Lewis’ achievement and what it meant to the sporting history of our Nation and its extraordinary significance at that particular moment in time.
Allow me to regress ‘back into the future’ when on the 13th September 1980 an extremely talented Guyanese featherweight fighter by the name Patrick Forde stepped into the ring at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas, USA to face the WBC World Featherweight champion, Salvador Sanchez for his title. Of the many great fighters that Guyana had produced, this was a genuine shot at the world title staring us in the face.
You see, despite the fact that we had produced many great fighters, we had never as a nation, managed to win a world title. In those days world title fights were a grueling 15 rounds and this one went exactly that distance. But at the end, the scores were 139-148, 145-145 and 141-145 in favour of Sanchez.
Seven months later, on 14th February 1981, Forde again made our hopes soar, this time taking on Eusebio Pedroza in Panama for the WBA World Featherweight title. Once again, despite a spirited effort, Forde surrendered in the 13th of the scheduled 15 rounds affair and it seemed as though the elusive world title was simply not to be.
In 1981 on the 26th June, just four months later, our tremendously talented young super lightweight, Lennox Blackmoore lifted our hearts and our hopes once again as he took on undefeated Aaron Prior at the Hasciento Hotel, Las Vegas, USA for Prior’s WBA World Super Lightweight title. Guyana’s anticipation was palpable and our excitement immeasurable.
In just two rounds, Blackmoore, as brilliant as he was, suffered a technical knockout from the rampaging Aaron Prior. Again Guyanese hearts were once more utterly and decisively crushed and the elusive world title remained, just out of reach.
On 4th of May, 1993 we would try again, this time, our rising young middleweight star, Wayne Harris would take on American Reggie Johnson for his WBA World Middleweight Title at the McNicolls Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado, U.S.A. Harris surrendered that bout by scores of 109-120, 108-120, 110-120 and once again it was cold denial for Guyana as the unrealized dream remained just that.
In 1995 on 27th May, Anthony ‘The Pearl’ Andrews journeyed to the Broward County Convention Centre in Fort Lauderdale, USA in pursuit of Jorge Fernando Castro’s WBA World Middleweight title. It was an action packed encounter and at the start of round 12, the Pearl was ahead on all of the scorecards and needed only to avoid a surging and desperate Castro to lift the title.
Guyana was tantalizingly one round away from its first world title but Castro, the man who stood between us and the title, would have none of it. He caught the Pearl on the ropes and landed shots heavy enough to render the Pearl helpless, forcing the referee to stop the contest.
He lost by TKO at 2:14secs of the 12th round in what was a decisive heart breaking loss yet. It seemed certain that Guyana would never win a world title although we had produced for decades, tremendously talented fighters.
On the 17th February 2001 at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, James ‘The Mighty Quinn’ Page stepped into the ring to defend his WBA 147 lbs Welterweight World title against Lewis. At 5’ 11″ with a reach of 73″ and just 30 years of age, Page was a formidable and large welterweight, an orthodox
Pittsburg California native, an American Champion defending his world title on American soil. He was known for a bone jarring left hook, one that had stopped many of his opponents in his 23 wins from 28 fights with 19 knockouts. It was a very huge affair.
The famous Kenny Bayless was the referee and the supervisor of the fight was none other than Giberto Jesus Mendoza, the now President of the WBA. The commentary team included the famous Emmanuel Steward. Across the ring draped in the hardly known green, yellow, red and black flag of Guyana in which he had entered was a diminutive Andrew ‘Sixheads’ Lewis, standing at only 5’ 8″ in comparison to his opponent’s 5’ 11″.
I remember that like all Guyanese watching, my heart was in my hands. The difference in size alone was enough to cause panic and then there was that awesome left hook that Page possessed. It looked very much as if we would be denied once again.
I had expected that a fairly intimidated ‘Sixhead’ would emerge from his corner and look to avoid Page’s big shots. The exact opposite happened – Sixhead came out as if there were only two people in the world, Page and himself and he (Sixhead) was, in his own mind, the far better fighter. He attacked Page with ferocious aggression, driving the bigger man back with hard left handed power shots from a classic southpaw position.
A startled Page could deliver very little of his own and found himself confronted with a far superior boxer. By round two, Page was dumped on the canvas from a hard right uppercut. Sixhead’s focus was intense as he systematically dismantled Page with a brilliant display of ring generalship.
Page’s poor defense proved porous against Six’s pinpoint accuracy and he could do little to stem Sixhead’s unrelenting aggression. Emmanuel Steward’s open admiration for Sixhead’s destruction of Page was clearly evident in his commentary. Page endured a battering and at the end of the sixth round, Sixhead landed a wicked combination, a right hook followed by a brutal right uppercut.
At this point, all of us who know boxing, knew that Page could not endure much more punishment. At the 98th second of the seventh round a vicious right hook connected to the side of his head sending him to the canvas. Referee Kenny Bayless, intensely looking into his glazed eyes and mindful of the punishment he had already absorbed, stopped the contest. Pandemonium followed.
It is just incredible how much emotion the human brain and body can process at one time. The pride that I felt for our country at that moment caused all at once a constriction in my chest that literally threatened to stop my breathing and a large lump in my throat the size of a breadfruit which was certainly not reflected in all the hollering that I was doing.
Sixhead Lewis lifted me and every Guyanese that witnessed this fight to arguably the greatest moment of National pride that we will ever experience.
He came to a door that said ‘World Champions only – No Guyanese Allowed,’ and he simply kicked it down.
In the few years that followed, six of his countrymen and women came in through that open doorway stepping over the flattened door that still lies on the ground, demolished by Andrew “Sixhead” Lewis.
His singular achievement represented a culmination of all of the countless years of toil and effort of all who preceded him – our amateur ranks through which he had come, our loyal and dedicated trainers, cornermen, sparring partners, the Guyana Boxing Board itself and the many, many loyal supporters over the years.
His spectacular seizing of the World Title was at last, justification for all of the hard work over the years – a vindication as it were, that it had not all been in vain – that our great and unyielding belief that our fighters were among the very best in the world was finally proven and justified in spectacular fashion for all the world to see.
For the Guyana Boxing Board of Control, this man will forever be our “Eternal hero”. Nothing will ever take him out of the pages of this Country’s history or indeed out of our Hearts. Guyana has lost a real and true Hero – one who took not a brush but a pair of Gloves and beautifully painted one of the most glorious moments in our nation’s history.
It is for that reason that the Guyana Boxing Board strongly advocates that a national monument in the form of a life sized statue be erected in a prominent location in commemoration of this Guyanese Hero as has been done in other countries in honour of their boxing legends. Andrew ‘Sixheads’ Lewis deserves no less; Guyana deserves no less. May his soul rest in eternal peace!
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