Dec 25, 2020 Sports
Amateur Boxing review…
– Ninvalle praises Sport Minister for understanding the needs of Sports
By Sean Devers
The Global Pandemic COVID-19 has wreaked havoc with all aspects of life worldwide including sports and Boxing has not been spared the wrath of the deadly Virus which is threatening to come back for a second round.
President of the Guyana Boxing Association (GBA) and former Chairman of the Caribbean Boxing Association, Steve Ninvalle, said because of the pandemic, which has not yet been knocked out, the year 2020 was one the most challenging years for Guyana’s Boxing.
“Well 2020 was one of the most challenging years for Boxing in Guyana and in the World. As a matter of fact, it’s the first time that I could remember that we did not have a National Open, a National Novice or a National Intermediate competition.
So if you ask me it has been an extremely challenging year, it’s been an extremely revealing year in the sense that it reviled how much deep we can dig as an executive and an Association
The Corona-19 pandemic …. well I don’t want to say reaped havoc …but forced the total closure of the sport for over three quarters of the year and we have only now been able to have a limited amount of activity in Boxing,” the experienced Sports Administrator informed.
Ninvalle was also high in praise for Minister of Culture, Youth & Sport Charles Ramson Jnr.
“The discussions we would have had with the Sport Minister, I can assure you as President of the GBA we have never had that sort of conversations and discussions with the previous Sport Minister in the previous Government so that alone tell us that we are on the right track as it relates of seeing eye to eye on issues.
Minister Charles Ramson is more in-depth and more structured and understands what sports needs but it’s not only what Sports needs, but also what the Ministry would need Sports to do. We understand him well and he understands us so I think we will have a wonderful relationship.
We are happy that we have a Government and a Minister who actually understands what has to be done and how it is to be done and I am very confident that with the support of Minister Ramson, not only Boxing but all sports in Guyana will see a meteoric rise as it relates to development,” the garrulous Ninvalle revealed.
Ninvalle also had a message for the local Boxing fraternity who were starved of fistic action since March when all Sports came to a screeching halt due to the Corona Virus which began in China.
“And just to let you know that while Boxing was floored by the Pandemic it has not been knocked out and we will be back on our feet after a mandatory eight count and the action will be stepped up soon,” promised the GBA head.
But after almost 10 months of no sports in Guyana (Cricket is the only Sport which was allowed to make a return last month with a GCB Tournament begin held in accordance with the Covid-19 guidelines) Ninvalle informed that boxing has gotten permission to re-start basic training without sparring and a maximum of 10 persons at any one time and is based on the size of the Gym.
“So Boxers are slowly returning to the Gym and it’s a difficult period for us to estimate and understand what’s going on due to the fact that in December Boxing is usually at a lull due to the Christmas activities but in January things should start picking up and we will take from there.
The immediate plans of the GBA for 2021, is to make sure that the Boxers are focusing and training for the Olympic qualifiers.”
Caribbean Bantamweight Champion Keevin Allicock, Middleweight Desmond Amsterdam, light Heavyweight Dennis Thomas and Light Welterweight Colin Lewis were in Cuba preparing for the Olympic qualifiers in Peru on the road to the Olympics which were set for Tokyo, Japan from July 24 to August 9, 2020. But due to pandemic both Events were postponed to 2021.
“In January we will start to get that moving, we have already gotten the support of the Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sport as it relates to having the Boxers encamped.
As soon as Christmas is over the Elite Boxers will be encamped since the Olympic qualifiers will be held in May and so after a month encampment we will be looking at overseas preparation but that would depend on how much open the Caribbean and the World is in terms of their Airports.
While Guyana has opened back almost everything, many other Countries have not and we have to wait and see which Countries have lifted their Covid-19 restrictions so can know where to send our Boxers,” disclosed Ninvalle.
In a year in which the Global deaths from the Covid-19 has climbed past that of the Spanish Flu which devastated the World in the 1920s and millions around the World including Guyanese, have lost their jobs due to shutting down of Countries, Ninvalle said two positive things in Boxing stood out for him during this year.
“One is that our Boxers were able to complete their three-month training course in Cuba even though they did not get a chance to compete at the Olympic qualifier.
I think what they have learnt in Cuba would be something that would take them through their entire life and they returning safely back home. I applaud the efforts of the Guyana Olympic Association and the Government in bringing these guys back them home safely. I could not have rested a night properly while they were stranded in Cuba.
Also another big plus for me in Boxing was the election of Russian New AIBA President Umar Kremlev as the President of AIBA. Mr Kremlev has all that is takes to bring Boxing back on its right footing, he is young, he is visionary and he has all the tools that we need to get Boxing back and to make sure that our relationship with the IOC is back to some level of normalcy,” Ninvalle posited.
Ninvalle said that all was not lost during this year and informed that they were been able to have virtual sessions, virtual seminars.
“Our Referees and Coaches were able to benefit from high level seminars hosted by Ray Silvas, who is the Chairman of the AIBA Referees and Judges commission in addition to other seminars held by top ranking officials. So we have utilised that time and one of the Coaches Seminars had the largest turn-out …. We had 170 odd participants which is a record for the World in Boxing,” added the GBA boss.
Ninvalle spoke of the adverse effect the Pandemic had on Boxing and GBA and the challenges he faced.
“We were only able to get one card in and that was on February 15, usually our Andrew Lewis Novices is held around March or April. Then we have our Lennox Blackmore national intermediate and that is followed by the Terrence Ali Open. Those are the three statutory cards we hold every year.
Also we would have planned to host the CARIFTA Boxing Championship but that had to be shelved, that would have been the first time in over two decades there would have been a CARIFTA Boxing tournament.
The Winfield Braithwaite Caribbean Schoolboys and Junior tournament was scheduled for August could not have been held; we will be holding the Tournament next year. We had planned to host the Caribbean Championships but we may host that next year, but with a Latin flavour. Ecuador has already pledged their support and we will be sending invitations to other Latin America Countries,” continued Ninvalle.
According to Ninvalle the Pandemic has impacted all levels of our Boxing and financial aspect has not been spared.
“We would expect that come January we could start back some activity. We have not been able to host any competition since February so spectatorship would have been something we would have been looking at.
The biggest disappointment for me due to Pandemic would be our Boxers not being able to go to the Olympic qualifiers. We were looking forward to that, they were rearing to go, they were in the best shape they could have ever been in and I have no doubt that we would have qualified for the Olympics for the first time since 1996,” lamented Ninvalle.
When John Douglas competed in the men’s light heavyweight event in the 1996 Summer Olympics, it was the last time a Guyanese Boxer Qualified for the Olympics, while Mike Parris’ Bronze Medal in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow is Guyana’s only Olympic Medal and only Medal in Boxing in the English speaking Caribbean.
“We will have to go back to the drawing board and speak to the GOA and Government concerning having a similar programme for these young men, we hope that this can come true again.
Also we have not been able to host any competition so those are some of the things the Pandemic curtailed.
One of the most challenging aspects in Boxing for me personally, was my decision to resign as the Chairman of the Caribbean Boxing Association…. that decision came after deep thought and it is something I don’t regret at this time. It has allowed me to focus more on putting Guyana first and concentrate more on my Country than in the Caribbean,” Ninvalle explained.
Government’s support of Sports is critical for its development and producing high quality Guyanese Sporting Ambassadors and Ninvalle provided an insight on the GBA’s relationship with Government.
“Boxing would have had a good relationship with APNU Government but we have a better relationship with this present Government and when I say that …. just on the level of correspondence and the promptness of the response as it relates to the correspondence it is much smoother, of a higher rate and much more timely and we welcome that,” Ninvalle disclosed.
Ninvalle thanked everyone who has stood in the corner of Boxing; the Boxers, Referees, Coaches, Judges, the Government, the Guyana Olympic Association, the Private sector and the fans for their support during a very tough year, not only for Sport but for everyone. He wished everyone a Merry Christmas and a productive new year.
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