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The Strikers Boxing Club has been active in the country for quite a while, and just last Friday, the club wrapped up its second training camp of the summer. The camp was held at the Strikers Boxing Facility in the Golden Gates Shopping Centre.
Long-time friend of the Strikers Boxing Club and Head Coach of the Orlando Boxing Academy Jose Cruz assisted Strikers Coach Ronn Rodgers with the boxers' everyday training. He also brought three fighters with him from the New York area to help the Bahamian fighters get ready for their trip to Georgia this week. Cruz has been instrumental in bringing fighters to the island to make sure the Bahamian boxers are pushed to their limits, and not remaining complacent.
"We had a meeting at the end of the camp, and Mr. Cruz said something that really stood out to me. He said all coaches want and need one fighter to walk into their gym that has the talent to be a champion and they focus all of their energy on that one fighter, because they know that their club can make a lot of money from that one champion. He then added that you guys have five or six guys here with that kind of potential and that's unheard of," said Rodgers. "He saw the talent level here and really wants to be a part of this. He also wants to come down and help me coach these young boxers."
Strikers has assembled a five-member team to compete in the Title Boxing World Championships in Georgia that begin on Friday. The boxers traveling include Tyrone Oliver, Amron Sands, Israel Johnson, Kendrick Stuart and Deangelo Swaby.
Those five were in action at "The Chosen Ones" Boxing Show that Strikers put on in July, and although only Sands was victorious, each of the fighters looked much improved from their sparring sessions earlier in the year.
Rodgers wanted the camp to be solely based on sparring because of how sharp his fighters have become since sparring with high-level competition. Each of the three fighters that traveled to the country were champions in their respective weight classes.
"When we first started bringing down foreign fighters to compete against our boys here at Strikers, you could see that their level was a little more advanced than ours. They were a lot better than our boys the first time they came down to train. You could see the difference in their technicality, confidence and the difference in experience level. A month later we brought them in again to fight against us, and the growth of our boys was so great that we beat them," said Rodgers. "We had some fighters from New York in earlier in the summer and we were able to beat them, and then we had another camp and our boys basically owned the training camp, and looked much better than the foreigners did. We also watch videos of our sessions to try and gain more wisdom from them."
The Bahamian fighters will be competing in the bantamweight, middleweight and super middleweight divisions.
Tonight at SuperClubs Breezes, the Bahamas Boxing Commission (BBC) will induct its Hall of Fame Class for 2011.
Beginning at 7:00 p.m., BBC Chairman Pat Strachan will lead the reception that will honor Open Inductee Bertram 'Bert Perry' Perigord and Veterans Inductee Wilfred 'Battling' Douglas.
Tonight's event is the second of the present commission's initiative to pay tribute to the icons of Bahamian boxing. In early 2009, the commission made a decision to begin the Hall of Fame program and in November of that year, with the full endorsement of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, the first ceremony was held during the Caribbean Awards Sports Icons (CASI) week.
The first inductees were William 'Yama Bahama' Butler, Gomeo Brennan and Everette 'Elisha Obed' Ferguson. Yama Bahama and Brennen were the original international pioneers of Bahamian boxing and Obed was the first (and still only) fully recognized world champion. He won the World Boxing Council's (WBC) Junior Middleweight crown in 1975.
Brennan twice held the Commonwealth (British Empire) middleweight title, winning it the first time in 1963. Yama Bahama was the original Bahamian prime time sports star of television and radio. Tonight, officially their company will be expanded by two more.
Perigord is a former two-time heavyweight champion of The Bahamas and a New York State Golden Gloves silver medalist from 1968. Douglas is one of the more exciting Bahamian boxers who ever put on a pair of gloves.
For the 2011 Hall of Fame Induction, the commission decided to include a Veterans category. The decision was grounded in the need to acknowledge all of the high-level contributors and pacesetters of the sport from its beginning in the country. The political powers in the land enacted legislation during the decade of the 1990s to control professional boxing.
The present commission is going a bit outside of the box and expanding its functions with the Hall of Fame ceremonies. Commissioner Paul Moxey has been appointed Chief Statistician and has the mandate of the organization to work with a committee on a research effort it is hoped will eventually result in the listing of all of the champions of the past and present. The boxers from different eras will also be compiled. It's a tough task because no records were kept prior to the establishment of the Bahamas Boxing Commission Act.
However, this commission has undertaken the responsibility. It will take a quality job by the research committee to sustain the Hall of Fame program.
Tonight, the Boxing Hall of Fame spotlight will be on Bertram 'Bert Perry' Perigord and Wilfred 'Battling' Douglas. They will be the center of attraction one more time.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org)
In short order, The Bahamas could very well have an International Boxing Association (AIBA) certified female boxing coach.
Kayla Johnson, the sister of Bahamian professional boxer Taureano Johnson, the World Boxing Council's (WBC) Continental of Americas Champion, is headed to Mexico to take part in a high level training course in the Olympic sport of boxing. Johnson is currently the head coach of the Southside Marlins Boxing Club and has assisted Andre Seymour on national teams, but has never before traveled out of the country for certification. She is about to get that chance.
"I'm excited," she said. "I'm greatly honored by the opportunity being handed to me by the boxing federation and the Bahamas Olympic Committee, and I intend to fully embrace it. I'm ecstatic about the opportunity, and I will make the most out of it. This is just the beginning for female involvement in the sport of boxing here in the country. Female boxing is definitely on the rise."
BOC President Wellington Miller said that in partnering with the Amateur Boxing Federation of The Bahamas (ABFB), the Bahamas Olympic Committee has broken new ground by selecting Johnson as the first female boxing coach to attend this training course. Miller serves as the president of both organizations.
"This is another great opportunity for a Bahamian coach to take part in such a prestigious course, and in Kayla's case, she's the first Bahamian female to do so," said Miller. "She's going to Mexico to join other boxing coaches from around the Americas in upgrading their technical skills. Women's boxing is fast growing around the world, and when Coach Johnson returns, we hope that she can attract some young Bahamian women into the fine art and the sweet science of boxing."
Johnson said that she is not intimidated at all to venture into an area that has been dominated and controlled, for the most part, by the male gender over the years. She leaves for Mexico next week.
"I have to go out there and earn my respect," she said. "I am coming into a man's territory but I am ready for it. I have trained with some of the best, and I have had the opportunity to go off with some who are well experienced in the area of coaching. It has truly been a journey for me, and I have learned new things every step of the way. I'm sure the experience that I would get from this trip will go a long way."
Miller said that the BOC is committed to working with young people such as Johnson.
When the world rankings for amateur boxers were released and president of the local governing body in the country, Wellington Miller received an official copy of the listing, he was not surprised to see the names of Valentino Knowles and Carl Hield among the names of the top boxers in the world.
Knowles and Hield are considered to be the two top amateur boxers in The Bahamas. Both have been the flag bearers at numerous championships and games and their exceptional performances at these events earned them places in the rankings.
"This is a great day for us in the sport of boxing," said Miller. "They are going over there (to the World Boxing Championships) with a high ranking. And when you check through the list, and you see the number of boxers from big countries who they are ahead of, it says a lot for our program. We are right up there with the world, and we appreciate what they are doing. We always ran and had good programs. Before them we had (boxers like) Taureano (Johnson) now it's their turn."
The rankings, which were released less than two weeks before the start of the World Boxing Championships, are calculated based on competition over the past two years. Knowles, who competes in the 64 kg is ranked 25th in the world and fourth in the Caribbean. He has scored 450 points in the last two years.
Fellow countryman Hield is 37th in his weight class (69 kg) in the world.
A 5th place in the Caribbean.
Top boxer in the 64 kg is Cuba's Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo.
He has 2,000 points having won the 2009 World Championships and the 2010 AMBC title, last year. Imre Balazs Bacskai of Hungary leads the 69 kg division with 890 points. Bacskai placed 10 at the 2009 AIBA World Championships and won the EUBC Championships in 2010, but finished 12 in 2011. All two of the divisional leaders will compete at the World Boxing Championships, where they will be challenged by Knowles and Hield.
Miller added: "These championships are also an elimination for the Olympic Games. We are hoping that they can qualify there and come back home with a medal. We know that they are going to make The Bahamas and themselves proud.
"These ratings go all over the world, so they are helping to promote The Bahamas. So it is good for us and it is good for The Bahamas. We are once again benefiting from these boxers."
Knowles and Hield will leave for training camp on Friday. This year's camp will be held for 10 days, right before the start of the championships.
This coming Saturday at Mario's Bowling and Family Entertainment Palace, the Bahamas Boxing Commission will stage a seminar that will focus on the medical and officiating aspects of the sport.
The seminar comes at a time when the professional boxing scene is showing signs of vibrancy. A boxing show which was organized by the Major Promotions and Entertainment group did not draw a huge crowd earlier this month (February 4), but the 200-plus spectators were treated to an exciting card and it is clear that the enthusiasm is at the very least, building again for professional boxing.
There is another new promotional group on the scene. Former Bahamian middleweight champion Elkaener Saunders heads a group that is pushing for a big return to the ring by Jermaine Mackey. The former Commonwealth Super Middleweight Champion, Mackey, is 18-5, but has not fought since 2009.
He was once considered world championship material. Many thought of him as the one with the best chance to follow Elisha Obed with the official claim of an authentic world title. However, he appeared to be badly misguided and his boxing world came crashing down. His pending return has added to the enthusiastic climate in professional boxing these days.
It is from this backdrop that the seminar being staged by the commission is most important. The time is right to acquaint all of the frontline folks in the local boxing fraternity with the medical and officiating regulations they need to be aware of. At the forefront of the seminar on Saturday will be chairmen of the Medical and Officiating Committees respectively, Commissioner Dr. Munir Rashad and Commissioner Fernley Palmer. Statistician Commissioner Paul Moxey is assisting Commissioner Palmer.
The presenters during the medical segment of the seminar will be Dr. Pat Roberts, Dr. Ricardo Davis and Dr. Rashad. Drs. Roberts and Davis are long-time supporters and assistants of professional and amateur boxing. Dr. Roberts will lead the discussion on anti-doping as it pertains to boxing and Dr. Davis is scheduled to pass on to the attendees, his insight on injuries in the ring.
Medical Committee Chairman Dr. Rashad will wrap up the segment with a concentration on the necessity of a medical certificate to clear a boxer to compete. The officiating segment will be coordinated by Commissioner Palmer and Commissioner Moxey. Amateur world certified official Alvin Sargeant will be invited to make a presentation as well. Their focus will be ring conduct, time lines of shows, judging, scoring, dressing room activity and the referee's authority.
It is an appropriate forum that the commission will be providing. The event will begin at 8 a.m.
To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com.
I am just back from the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Commonwealth Boxing Council (CBC) and can report that the organization is still very relevant. Indeed, the CBC remains on top of what's going on in the boxing world and is very appropriate for those member organizations under its umbrella in the Commonwealth of Nations.
The Bahamas became directly connected to the CBC way back in 1963. On October 22 of that year, a 24-year-old native of Bimini, Gomeo Brennan, captured the vacant Commonwealth (British Empire) middleweight title with a convincing decision over Mickey Leahy at the Empire Pool in Wembley, London. From that point onward, the Commonwealth boxing platform became the launching pad for most of the successes of Bahamians in the ring. Of course, our only authentic world champion, Elisha Obed, achieved the milestone under the World Boxing Council (WBC) brand.
However, after Brennan, there have been three other Commonwealth champions - Ray Minus Jr., Steve Larrimore and Jermaine Mackey. There have been two presidents of the CBC, Wilfred Coakley being the first and I, the second. So, The Bahamas continues to be bonded more with the CBC than any other international boxing body.
I've been a director of the CBC since 2004 and at the recent AGM, it had to be acknowledged that Bahamian pro boxing scene is at the lowest stage during this era. Sherman 'The Tank' Williams, the Bahamian heavyweight champion, has been inactive, although I understand he is to engage in one of those "contender" series soon. Former middleweight champion Elkaener Saunders has retired. Former Commonwealth super middleweight champ Mackey has been inactive as well and has not won a fight for a long time.
Bahamian super featherweight champion Meacher Major has also been inactive and was dropped out of the CBC contender group, having lost his last two bouts. Still prominent are just Bahamian light heavyweight champion Ryan McKenzie and Edner Cherry, the Bahamian who is least connected with the country. Taureano Johnson, the middleweight, and Valentino Knowles, the novice pro, are trying to unravel some personal contract issues I have been informed. McKenzie (14-0) is legitimately one of the leading up-and-coming fighters in the world.
Cherry is still cemented as a contender in the CBC and was placed among the super featherweights since his last fight was in that division. He left the country after his first 11 years of life and has fought his entire career from a Florida base. Johnson is rated because of his (14-0) record although his career seems to be in limbo at this time. Williams was dropped. Knowles is just starting to make his way as a pro. Some of my CBC colleagues genuinely lament the status of professional boxing in The Bahamas and have offered advice that will be passed on to fellow members in the Bahamas Boxing Commission (BBC).
It is good to have a support body like the CBC. The interest that the CBC takes in member commissions and boards is the area that sets it apart from the other international organizations. In other cases, the focus is primarily on champions, contenders and purses and not much concern is on development. The CBC, on the other hand, is always interested in the national boxing programs of its Commonwealth countries.
The CBC is that big brother entity of Bahamian boxing. Those of us who are responsible for the national program are thus obligated to justify the association with the CBC.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org)
One of the most productive amateur boxers in Bahamian history, is this morning laying up in a hospital bed after himself being a victim of crime over the weekend.
According to a police report, a young man standing in front of an apartment complex on Kemp Road, in the vicinity of three others, was shot multiple times around 2 a.m. on Saturday morning. It was later revealed that the young man in question was junior welterweight boxer Valentino Knowles, who was on the cusp of qualifying for the London Olympic Games one and a half years ago.
Knowles, 25, is one of the most talented boxers the country has ever produced. He turned professional a little over a year ago, after a stellar amateur career in which he was a multi Caribbean Amateur Boxing Association (CABA) medalist, won an Independence Cup bronze medal, a Commonwealth Games bronze, a Commonwealth Championships silver, a Pan American Games silver, and a Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games gold just to name a few.
Also, he is the first Bahamian to ever win a bout at the prestigious International Boxing Association (AIBA) World Championships. He accomplished that feat when he outscored Joseph Njogu from Kenya, 11-8, in 2009 to advance to the round of 32. Knowles failed to reach the field of 16 but had already made history for The Bahamas with his first round victory at the championships.
According to the police report, shortly before 2 a.m., three men and a woman were fired at when the occupants of a red Honda Fit vehicle pulled up alongside them. Knowles received multiple gunshot wounds and another reportedly received a gunshot wound to the leg. According to reports, Knowles is now listed in stable condition in hospital. The other male who was shot in the leg is reportedly listed in stable condition as well. The woman was not injured during the incident.
Amateur Boxing Federation of The Bahamas (ABFB)
President Wellington Miller said that he got an opportunity to visit Knowles on Saturday, and the once promising professional who currently has a pro win/loss record of 2-0, remains in high spirits.
"From all indication, he is going to be okay," said Miller yesterday. Miller is also the president of the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC).
"This is a terrible thing what happened, but Valentino is in good spirits. He was happy to see us. We just told him to take the tablets to kill the pain and get some rest. Right now, it is unsure if he will ever box again. If that is the case, it would be a big loss for our boxing program but the most important thing right now, is for him to survive this ordeal and be okay. Valentino has represented The Bahamas very well for the past 10 years. He is one of the most decorated amateur boxers in Bahamian history. We wish him a speedy recovery."
Miller said that Knowles' leg is broken in three places, his jaw is fractured, and he was also shot in the chest. He was admitted to the emergency room but is apparently resting comfortably at this point. In 2011, leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games, Knowles was ranked as the number two junior welterweight amateur boxer in the Americas. That's inclusive of North and Central America, and the Caribbean region.
Police are requesting the public's assistance solving the shooting incident. Investigations are ongoing.
At a recent meeting of top sports and youth leaders, a valid point was made that the way forward, if the potential of the sports industry is to be fully tapped into, is for all involved to adhere to the set conditions and the regulations that control the respective programs.
Promoters being unable to operate strictly in accordance with certain important conditions established by the Bahamas Boxing Commission (BBC), is the major reason for the lack of regular pro boxing promotions. The BBC functions via an Act of Parliament. The guidelines of control are of the order of all of the authority boxing boards in the region and the Commonwealth of Nations.
The act gives commissioners the authority to be flexible in most instances. However, there are some areas that must be monitored closely. There must be insistence by the commission, in order for the body's credibility to remain cemented in place. At the meeting of local leaders, it was lamented that for such a long time, there was the habit of moving around rules, thus resulting in an environment almost across the board, of inefficiency.
In pro boxing here, at times in order to encourage promoters, the commission has been very flexible, and then got betrayed. In 2010, there was such a situation. The show went on without the commission being firm with certain conditions and the result was embarrassment.
For months, the commission received communications from agitated local and foreign representatives of boxers who claimed to have not been paid. Subsequently, the commission determined to endorse a boxing show only with the understanding that the funds for the boxers' purses and fees for the officials would be provided to be held in escrow two weeks in advance of the proposed show date.
Also, there have been cases when the schedule of bouts first presented by the promoter, ended up being adjusted on fight night in a non-complimentary manner. Therefore, it was decided that the condition of the full contracts for all fighters being submitted two weeks prior to the proposed show would be firm. The commission also insists that a medical team is available. The very easy total of $300, normally, covers the sanction for the show and the promoters' fee. That's the lowest combination in the world.
Yet, promoters have had great difficulty getting the contracts of fighters into the commission on time. Also, there has been a problem getting the funds submitted, to be placed in escrow. Responsible for ensuring that all boxing purses and officials' fees are paid is the direct responsibility of the commission. The small population in The Bahamas limits the gate potential. Promoters have been unsuccessful in getting the kind of corporate sponsorships that would enable them to appropriately deal with the conditions of the commission.
So, there is this conundrum. Yet, the commission forges on doing the business of pro boxing control, as mandated by the Act. Courageous promoters continue to step up to the plate, although with less regularity. Pro boxing goes on.
On Friday night at the Rainforest Theatre, inside the Wyndham Nassau Resort, Meacher Major and Brazilian Roger Rosa will headline a boxing show, being jointly organized by the Strikers Boxing Club and Buttons Formal Wear. The sport needs a shot in the arm. Hopefully the action in the ring at the Rainforest Theatre will provide such.
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The list of professional boxers who have now organized with others, promotional organizations to handle their ring affairs continues to grow.
Roy Jones, Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather are some of the high profiled boxers who decided to find a way to chart their own destinies by having a major influence or total control over promotions they headlined.
Here in The Bahamas, Meacher Major has for several years considered that route. It appears that he is now ready to head in a new direction with promotions that involve him for the remainder of his professional career.
At present, Major is not happy over certain issues that emerged when he performed on the August 13 show promoted by Charlie Major Jr. He is caught up in the controversy over purses agreed to by Major Jr.
The boxer has in fact stated that he is now more determined to "go a new route with a promotional group I can have confidence in, that every time out, agreements will be met.
"I am just as eager as anybody else for boxing to go on in The Bahamas. Boxing has been my life. Most of what I have learned has been because of the opportunities I have had to travel the world and interact in other cultures with other people. That has given me a big advantage over boxers and other people who can only stay grounded here at home.
"So I definitely will always do my part to boost boxing. I am satisfied also, after being guided by the Bahamas Boxing Commission for years now, that our rights will be protected. I have spoken to associates and we plan to firm up our position and become officially affiliated as a promotional group with the Commission.
"We want to stage a show before the end of the year. There is a nice group of boxers available here. There are those who have not been boxing because they didn't like what was going on. They are still young and can be attracted back to the ring. The ones who stayed with it, our new group will work with them,' said the talented super featherweight boxer.
Meacher is actually the most popular boxer in the country today. He has a solid following and is an inspiration to scores of young boys and girls in the Kemp Road area. He has been coordinating a youth camp for several years now and is a quality role model.
The view here is that Meacher will make sure that there is a high level of decency associated with anything that he does. He and his group will indeed be a welcome addition to the promotional side of boxing.
It is unfortunate that he has come to crossroads with Promoter Charlie Major Jr. They once had a good working relationship with Meacher using the Nassau Stadium as a base of operation. Hopefully, they will resolve their issues and with the Commission and others, help to rid the pro boxing scene of all that is negative.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org).
It was great to see the former Minister of Sports Neville Wisdom in the house. There he was in the Rainforest Theatre at the Wyndham Resort this past Friday evening, soaking up the excitement of the finest boxing show in this decade.
There were quite a number of other sports enthusiasts who came in a modest initial flow that eventually swelled to a packed theater. The ultimate satisfaction came to the Bahamian supporters of the show when Meacher Major ended up with a decision victory at the end of six rousing rounds with the tough Brazilian Roger Rosa.
Promoter Tommy Stubbs deserves congratulations. His Buttons Formal Wear team jumped readily into a situation totally new to them and success was the result. Ronn Rodgers of the Strikers Boxing Club, and Ray Minus Jr., who heads Champion Amateur Boxing Club, both responsible for the coordination of the matches, came up big as well.
Despite some glitches and making the adjustment to the regulations put in place by the Bahamas Boxing Commission, the end result was one that ought to inspire Stubbs to continue on this new business path. He certainly seemed to have a good feeling about the show when it was all over.
He smiled when several spectators came up to him and asked for more shows. Without a doubt, his step into boxing was pivotal in giving the sport energy.
The collaboration of pro and amateur boxing is a winner. The crowd, by the response, obviously enjoyed the amateur action. In fact so solid was the entire card that when Dencil Major opted out of the competition and Alex Perez flopped against Mike Sawyer, the onlookers still left feeling that they had gotten their money's worth.
The amateur bout of the night was between American Fernando Caldron and Bahamian Kendric Stuart of the Strikers Boxing Club. Interestingly enough, although Stuart cleaned up on Caldron for the first two rounds, his propensity to mix it up when he could have just boxed and won in a breeze, proved to be his undoing. In the third round he was badly out of gas and absorbed blows that in the earlier rounds he was evading. That final round obviously swayed the judges and Caldron got the nod.
It was an encounter, however, with solid action throughout. In other amateur bouts, Jonathon Cox of Champion Amateur Boxing Club won against his club mate Don Rolle; Strikers Boxing Club's D'Angelo Swaby won by third round stoppage against Champion Club's Renardo McKenzie; Strikers Club's Israel Johnson defeated Tyson Isaacs of the Beast Mode Fight Team, and Kerone Knowles of Champion Boxing won over Strikers Club's Tyrone Oliver.
It was a big night for boxing.
Significant in the mix was announcer Ivan 'Showtime' Francis. Although new to the game, he was a rather nice dimension and could become a fixture on the scene.
Hopefully, the ring excitement will continue.
o To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com.