By Michael Benjamin
2015 has been now been relegated to history and though finance and adequate funding seemed to have
been a major bugbear, the executives of the Guyana Boxing Association (GBA) have somehow been able to field teams to various tournaments around the world in their (the executives) bid to improve the lot of their charges nurturing ambitions of winning a medal of some sort at the impending Summer Olympics in Brazil later this year.
There has been a flurry of activities that included trips to Mexico in pursuit of a spot at the PanAm Games in Canada, French Guiana, Chile, United Kingdom, Mexico, St Lucia, Barbados and a host of other countries and even though our boxers failed to dominate, they would have accrued valuable experience.
The fact is that our boxers have not done so well in the international arena after traveling to the above countries in what has been regarded as preparations to break the Olympic jinx that has beset this country since time immemorial.
There were a few shortcomings of the executive of the GBA but exposing the boxers to international competition certainly was not one of them.
After engaging in discussions with his counterparts from French Guiana and Suriname, President of the Guyana Boxing Association, Steve Ninvalle, engaged host, French Guiana, in what should have been a Tri Nation Inter Guiana competition in March but Suriname pulled out at the last moment.
The women boxers Taseka Howard (54kgs) and Dwon Thompson (80kgs), both lost but in all fairness to Howard, she fought her heart out and there was a question mark over the eventual decision. The below par performance of our women boxers should have propelled the GBA executive to place a little more emphasis on their development. They erred and paid for such a carefree attitude in the ‘Back to the Future’ Caribbean Boxing Championships where our lasses were woefully outclassed.
Over in French Guiana, the male team also experienced mixed fortunes and with the exception of Dennis Thomas (81kgs) and Eon Bancroft (69kgs), who both won their respective bouts, and Diwani Lampkin, who suffered a questionable loss, the other boxers, Delon Charles (56kgs), Aquincy Harvey, Jason Phillips (64kgs), Glenroy Smith (69kgs) and Trevon King (90kgs), all returned to Guyana empty handed. Two coaches, Cuban, Francisco Hernandez Roldan and Steel Crawford, accompanied the boxers, while Germin Craig and Medford Wilson traveled in the capacity of referee/judge with Gordon Nedd as the manager.
Shortly afterwards, a squad of four boxers departed Guyana for Mexico to participate in the Pan American Boxing trials in Tijuana Mexico from June 4th- 9th. Those selected were Dennis Thomas (75kgs), Delon Charles (56kgs), Dewani Lampkin (60kgs) and Jason Phillips (64kgs).
Sebert Blake was the coach in charge of the team after Cuban coach, Señor Francisco Hernandez Roldan, was inexplicably omitted. With the exception of Thomas, who won his inaugural bout, all of the other boxers lost which cost them an opportunity to represent Guyana at the Pan American Games in Toronto Ontario Canada in July.
Blake enjoyed personal successes after earning a Diploma in Sports when he travelled to Hungary under the auspices of the Guyana Olympic Association. He followed that up in August with a one week Extraordinary APB/WSB Certification Course from August 20-27 in Havana, Cuba where he earned promotion from a level two star coach to a level three star coach, the highest level of the ruling boxing association (AIBA).
Maybe, the most definitive achievement in the local (amateur) boxing arena occurred when GBA President, Steve Ninvalle, created history after he was elected as a member of the AIBA executive committee when that organization held its 2014 Congress in Jeju, Korea.
Mr. Ninvalle had been initially nominated by members of the Caribbean Boxing Associations after a meeting in Barbados to contest for the position of Vice President on the executive committee but lost out on that bid. He rebounded by successfully clinching the position on the executive committee.
His success is the first in the history of local amateur boxing and even further afield in the Caribbean region. The GBA President had said then that Caribbean countries would have had a representative voice at the top echelons of the sport.
The benefits of Mr. Ninvalle’s accomplishment became apparent late last year when he collaborated with other territorial associations and the Guyana Olympics Association to host the ‘Back to the Future’ Development Boxing Tournament at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall (CASH) late last year.
A winner was not announced but what was apparent was that the sport benefitted following such a brilliant resurgence; this after the abandonment of the Caribbean Amateur Boxing Tournament a few years ago.
Writer’s note: the year 2015 had been somewhat of a bittersweet year for boxing. It must be noted that the sport has two arms, amateur and professional. Soon I will endeavour to give a comprehensive analysis of the latter fraternity. For now, though, we note that executives of the GBA will now have their eyes set on participation at the summer Olympics scheduled for Brazil in August.
One cannot deny that they have gone the extra mile to enhance the boxers’ chances of attaining such lofty goals by their attendance at several overseas tournaments. The administration’s efforts were also supported by governmental input where Cuban coach, Francisco Hernandez Roldan, imparted valuable knowledge and techniques to local pugilists after he was brought here on a training stint. I have seen Hernandez at work and to my mind, his departure was premature as he was still to effectively impact on the boxers.
He was an asset to the sport and though the boxers were still not up to the required standards, Roldan seem to have been making strides after our boxers shone in St Lucia and Barbados. Roldon should have also travelled to Mexico to aid the boxers in their quest to qualify for the Pan Am Games.
The French Guiana sojourn was a travesty as most of the boxers were victims of a biased system that acted against them and even the Chef de Mission, Gordon Nedd, became exasperated to the point of filing, and then retracting, an appeal after another questionable decision against a Guyanese boxer.
The benefits of last year’s activities can only be fully analyzed based on the performance of the boxers at the Brazil Olympiad but even before then, they will be required to prove their worthiness at either of two ‘trial’ in March and/or June.
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