Dec 06, 2015 Sports
Caribbean ‘Back to the Future’ Development Boxing Tournament …
Says Michael Benjamin
Amidst much pomp and ceremony the Caribbean Development Boxing Tournament, dubbed ‘Back to the
Future,’ got underway at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall (CASH) on Thursday November 26 and after four nights of fistic fury, boxing administrators around the Caribbean, instead of declaring an overall winner, opted for a handshake and the collective view that the tournament had served its purpose of unifying the Caribbean nations.
While the move may be regarded as commendable (bearing the unity concept in mind) the general view seems to suggest that Guyana failed to assert itself as the Caribbean powerhouse in the sport, a position it had enjoyed since time immemorial.
Even the uninitiated that attended the tournament would admit that the bouts were qualitative even amidst the poor turnout of patrons. It is said that looking back may be counter-productive but the wisest among us will conform to a review of past systems to improve on those currently adopted.
Guyana’s performance was not as dominating as it could have been thus confirming the harsh reality that our boxers’ standards have dipped considerably over the years. In summarizing the tournament, Mr. Ninvalle said that he is pleased with the general applications of the local team but most importantly he believes that the forum has served its purpose of uniting the various nations and as such the entire Caribbean has benefitted from the exercise.
His views were echoed by several other Caribbean (boxing) stalwarts who have all been in the forefront of development of the sport in the region.
Longstanding boxing stalwart and Secretary of the Special Tasks Committee, Barbadian, Kathy Harper Hall,
expressed gratitude to Ninvalle and his (local) team while noting that they had accepted a late invitation to host the tournament after Aruba reneged in June. She feels that the tournament will serve as the launching pad for the development of the young boxers in the region.
President of the Jamaica Amateur Boxing Association (JABA), Stephen Jones, echoed similar sentiments with flattering words, “Job Well Done! This was a huge undertaking but a much needed one and it took tremendous courage on the part of the host nation to be willing to stage the first one,” he said.
Mr. Jones further urged his colleagues of other territorial associations to “take the baton and run with it.” He feels that it is imperative that the tournament remain at the top of yearly priority list even if to enhance the Caribbean’s chances of medaling on the world’s larger platforms.
President of the St Lucia Amateur Boxing Association (SLABA), David ‘Shakes’ Christopher, was especially enthused and expressed as much in a note to the GBA President, “What more can I say, the joy of being there and experiencing the satisfaction on the faces of everyone especially the young boxers brought tears to my eyes.” He said that he was also delighted by the presence of the members of the Republican Boxing Gym as they strengthened the view of (boxing) administrators of the sport’s ability to effect positive changes in the lives of young people that has (temporarily) gone astray. “Just seeing prisoners, incarcerated for transgressing the laws, receive a second chance to redeem themselves gives me greatest satisfaction,” noted Christopher. “All of the parties involved should take a bow,” he concluded.
Such glorious commendations should not instigate complacency on the part of local administrators who
initially had said that the tournament would serve a bifurcated objective; to enlighten them of the statuses of local pugilists and to give a clear indication of the quality of competition within the region.
From a local perspective, the ‘Back to the Future’ tab was merely to suggest a replication of those days when local pugilists traded punches with their counterparts from the Caribbean, Latin America and further afield and procured lucrative accolades. During the late seventies/early eighties local amateur boxers matched the skills of their counterparts from Cuba, Santo Domingo, Venezuela and many other countries and held its own. Those countries have progressed rapidly even as our progress appears to be stilted.
Boxing pundits will obviously experience bouts of nostalgia when they reminisce on those days when Cuban coach, Trotman Daly and other top notch trainers, would visit Guyana on Government exchange programmes and honed our boxers to competitive statuses. It’s no small wonder then that that period was our most prolific in the ‘squared jungle.’ Small wonder, also that Guyana’s only Olympic success, a bronze by Michael Anthony Parris at the 1980 Moscow Games and a gold medal from Winfield Braithwaite at the Commonwealth Games Edmonton Canada, August 1978, were attained during that era.
Feats of this nature were probably what inspired Mr. Ninvalle, to organize the just concluded championships after consultations with his Caribbean counterparts at meetings in Barbados and St Lucia earlier this year.
The tournament was indeed competitive and Guyanese boxers started their trek on a positive note on the inaugural night, winning 4 of their 5 bouts. In time though, the other countries recovered and the disparity in skill and determination became apparent and when the smoke had eventually cleared, it was Barbados that carted off the lion’s share of the medals with outstanding performances from Trinidad and Tobago.
The selectors could not be faulted for the composition of the Guyana team since it was derived from the winners in the respective divisions at the National Open Championships. Middleweight boxer, Dennis Thomas, is arguably the most experienced of the lot and he was nominated to lead the Guyanese charge. The lanky pugilist started his trek on an inspiring note, defeating St Lucian, Arthur Langelier and followed up with a 2nd round TKO victory over Bahamian, Hubert Fernander. Thomas did not fare that well in his final bout and dropped a points decision to Jamaican, Johnathan Hanson.
Much was also expected of light/welterweight pugilist, Dewani Lampkin and he easily won his first bout against St Lucian, Nathan Ferreri before replicating that victory against Barbadian, Justin Edwards. Lampkin’s sojourn ended disappointingly after he surrendered a points decision to Trinidad and Tobago’s Christian McDonald.
Both pugilists felt that they were ‘done in’ by poor officiating and the prognosis of Ms Harper may have compensated when she remarked, “The competition was of a reasonably high standard in all divisions, and the officiating was acceptable although certainly nowhere near perfect.”
Ms Harper emphatically stated that while they are interested in the overarching development of all of the boxers in the Caribbean, they were placing special emphasis on the Simon Pures in an effort to retain a strong culture.
While such strategies are commendable, Ninvalle and his crew will also be required to place special emphasis on the distaff sector. Of all the (local) females on show only Kesha Aroukium really demonstrated the skill required at this level. It would be interesting to note the strategies employed by the Ninvalle administration in effecting a positive turn around.
The coaching team of Terrence Poole and Sebert Blake et al will also have its work cut out to remold a team and bring it on par with international standards based on their observations in the just concluded tournament. Indeed, Mr. Ninvalle has declared that every country had taken some positives from the tournament and should regard itself as a winner. This may be so but in the case of Guyana, only when strategies are employed to correct the detected anomalies can we truly say that the championships have served us well.
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