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The single-most important aspect that marked the previous two administrations of the Bahamas Boxing Commission was the extraordinary comradeship enjoyed by the members who made solid strides despite a struggling economy, not favorable to would-be promoters.
Under Dr. Norman Gay's chairmanship, the 2003-2007 administrators reconnected professional boxing in The Bahamas with the major world boxing authority bodies. Dr. Gay, who was one of the chief architects of the legislated rules and regulations that govern professional boxing, is known for his diplomatic style.
He fostered a close-knit climate and the members worked always as one to regain a positive image for professional boxing in the country.
In 2007, under a new central government, the position of chairman was filled by former outstanding light heavyweight boxer Pat Strachan. The smooth working relationship of the commission continued. During Strachan's tenure, the commission established the Boxing Hall of Fame and inducted five former stalwarts of the sport.
The first three inductees, in 2009, were Everette "Elisha Obed" Ferguson, William "Yama Bahama" Butler and Gomeo Brennan. In 2011, the commission inducted Bertram "Bert Perry" Perigord and Wilfred "Battling" Douglas.
I had the pleasure of serving as secretary under both administrations, and as president of the Commonwealth Boxing Council (2008-2010). The commission was also instrumental in networking with the council to place Bahamians as boxing contenders.
In that regard, Jermain Mackey was rated, got a shot at the Commonwealth Super Middleweight Crown and was successful. He held the title from 2007 to 2009. So indeed, while promoters had and still have difficulties getting enough funding to put on boxing shows, some significant inroads were made during the past two administrations of the commission.
Dr. Gay and Strachan deserve high praise for their leadership style.
The present administration, announced on Monday by the government, is thus challenged to forge new avenues of accomplishments. Under the new announced chairman, Alvin Sargeant, and this writer, who was named deputy chairman, the commission starts out on a high note.
Three weeks ago, Bahamian Heavyweight Champion Sherman 'Tank' Williams got a prestigious victory. He defeated Chauncy Welliver in Macau, China and ended up with three titles. He is now the China Zone, Asia Pacific and Macau Province champion.
Thus, he owns four titles, including that of The Bahamas.
A grand way to get going would be for the new commission to pay public tribute to Williams. My understanding is that the city of Vero Beach in Florida, where Williams and his wife Kimberley reside, has embraced him anew.
According to Kimberley, the Tank is due to be presented with the key to the city in a special ceremony later this month. So far, nothing of the kind has been announced locally.
Perhaps it might be left to the commission to take the initiative. It would be a gesture befitting the noted sports ambassador and a rather positive plank on which the administration under Sargeant can begin its business.
o To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com.
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.
During a recent conclave hosted by the Amateur Boxing Federation of The Bahamas (ABFB) a lot of concerns were expressed. There is a big problem in Grand Bahama. The amateur boxing leaders there are not on the same page at all and the sport is suffering as a result.
At the conclave, the promise to develop an officiating program for referees, judges and timekeepers came up once again. Will there be a follow-up this time around? The New Providence Amateur Boxing Association (NPABA) is clamoring for the parent body to be more proactive in providing an environment for more tournaments.
The amateur program lost its best boxer, Valentino Knowles, to the professional ranks. This is indeed a low point for the amateur program in the country. In steps Coach Ray Minus Jr. His club, Champion Boxing, is the most vibrant in the country. Quite frankly, the argument could be made that Minus Jr. has the "one" vibrant amateur boxing club in the nation. He is speaking out and pointing directly at the amateur boxing executive group, led by Wellington Miller.
"I don't think we should have a problem at all in amateur boxing. We have the boxers. We have the clubs. Everybody wants action. This is where the federation has to do its part. I would like to see the federation stage several tournaments per year. This is what should be done. We should have these national tournaments and the clubs would become more busy and the boxers would have other goals to go after. My club has tournaments and other clubs have shows, but it's another thing when you are competing in a national tournament, staged by the federation. It's something much bigger to go after," said Minus Jr.
He is completely correct, and puts his finger on the major problem within the national sports fraternity. With few exceptions, sports administrators are not carrying their weight. They want to strut around and take credit when the hard work of athletes and the sacrifices of coaches and parents bring high caliber results. Ask about national development programs though and you see very few. This speaks to the inefficiency of sports administrators in the country, generally.
Minus Jr. is on point. I don't normally agree with the way he functions, but he gets my full support this time. Obviously, Minus Jr. understands that the new sports culture in this country must be inclusive of sports administrators who have the capacity to stay on pace with our athletes. For years now, our athletes because of resilience and natural abilities have made Bahamians proud. Unfortunately these same athletes fall under the jurisdiction of poor administrators and accordingly the national sports program is not reaching its true potential.
In the case of amateur boxing, hopefully the executives of the organization will in the immediate future recognize the need to pull themselves up to the shoulder of their president, Miller, and propel the national program by planning and staging national tournaments.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Kimberley Williams called very soon after the match between her husband Sherman "Tank" Williams and Chauncy Welliver in Macau, China. She was trying to remain calm, but the excitement came through despite her efforts.
She was the provider of the best boxing news for The Bahamas since a November evening in 1975 when Elisha Obed won the World Boxing Council junior middleweight title.
Tank upset the odds and captured two very important titles (WBO China Zone and WBO Asia Pacific). All considered, the performance by Tank arguably ranks third in the history of boxing in The Bahamas. In my view Obed's 1975 effort in a Paris ring ranks first.
Then, I go all the way back to October of 1963 when Gomeo Brennan won the country its first international boxing crown. He defeated Briton Mickey Leahy to capture the British Empire (Commonwealth) middleweight crown. The fact that Tank is 39 and had to overcome many disappointments in the last few years, combined with being matched against an opponent who was a favorite in the China area, speaks volumes for him. Welliver is American-born but resides in New Zealand and fought in China twice before.
We live in a society of skeptics so there are bound to be those who will downplay the accomplishment of the Grand Bahamian, but Tank can be very content with having registered a noteworthy triumph. I expect for the victory over Welliver to vault Tank firmly in the World Boxing Organization's top 10 rating and possibly the World Boxing Council, the World Boxing Association, the International Boxing Federation and the International Boxing Organization.
It is at a time like this that boxers need good "lobby" representatives in their camps. The case could easily be made for the Tank being included in the top 10 rankings of the noted world boxing bodies as a result of his showing against Welliver. A good lobbyist would have no difficulty at all.
It was sad that he got absolutely no mileage after his stunning work over three rounds against former multiple world heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield in January of 2011. Tank and Kim struggled mightily to make some inroads but just did not have the clout.
Hopefully, this time, Tank will connect with someone who is capable of representing him to the fullest extent, to capitalize on the great 12-round display against Welliver. I have checked around. It was not a fluke victory. I've always lauded Tank's ability to manage his actions, offensive and defensive, well in the ring.
At an age when most boxers begin to lose their power, Tank has sustained and can be devastating with left hooks, overhand and straight rights. Holyfield found that out. He was lucky the referee stopped their bout after three rounds and declared a no-contest.
I believe Tank would have knocked him out that night.
Last Friday in China, Welliver discovered also what Tank is all about. He had no answers for Tank as he dipped, bobbed and weaved relentlessly and launched wicked hooks and power-packed rights.
At the end, one judge scored the fight 119-110 in favor of the Bahamian while another had it 115-112 and a third scored it 114-114, even. It is my understanding that the 119-110 scoring was the accurate one. Looming for him are the likes of the 6-8 Commonwealth Champion Tyson Fury and perhaps one of the Klitschko champions (brothers Vitali and Wladimir).
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com).
Novice boxing promoter Tommy Stubbs has a full awareness of the rather nice spectator participation at the Friday, December 13 boxing show in the Rainforest Theatre. It was his first boxing promotion, but he is a promoter of note. Verification of his capacity as a promoter, are the many wedding shows he has produced over the last two decades. So indeed, at least for one promotion, his journey down another road has potential. The challenges Stubbs and his associates encountered were no doubt because of the initial entrance into a new arena.
Once he is prepared to recognize the jurisdiction of the Bahamas Boxing Commission (BBC) and act accordingly, his marriage into the boxing fraternity could be blessed with quality shows going forward. Already, on the heels of Meacher Major's successful outing against Brazilian Roger Rosa on the Stubbs' card, serious talks are going on about other promotions. Of great interest is the prospect of a prime middleweight bout. Taureano Johnson, the former outstanding amateur who has been the lone Bahamian campaigning in the professional ranks as a middleweight, is pivotal in the mix.
Then, there is former super middleweight champion Jermain Mackey, along with junior middleweight Jerome Ellis. A bout between any of the aforementioned three would no doubt be quite exciting. The new ratings of the commission are soon to come out and inclusive will likely be designated champions. It is possible that the official middleweight championship of The Bahamas might be up for grabs.
Major, actually, the Bahamian super featherweight champion, is flexible to entering the ring in that classification or as a lightweight or even a junior welterweight as per his last fight. He is preparing for a series of bouts. His focus is another Commonwealth Boxing Council (CBC) elimination match in one weight category or the other.
"I got a chance once and it didn't turn out the way I wanted it to. I suffered a hand injury and did not finish the fight. I had a difficulty with my left hand during the last fight but I pulled it together and finished the contest well. I want to fight another elimination match because my big focus now is a Commonwealth title," said Major in a recent interview.
His enthusiasm plus the other elements, create a scenario that bodes well for pro boxing in the immediate future. Perhaps 2014 will be the year that pro boxing rebounds in a big way. There is also the possibility that Edner Cherry, the Haitian-Bahamian, who has been fighting out of Florida for the last 10 years, will return to his birth country to be formerly introduced as an elite pro boxer.
Indeed there is optimism for pro boxing in the country.
o To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After more than two decades of coaching and molding the lives of young Bahamians, Ray Minus Jr. is still going strong. The former Bahamian Lightweight Champion, through his Champion Amateur Boxing Club (CABC), is staging the final week of the 18th Annual L. Garth Wright Sr. Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament, this Saturday at the L.W. Young Junior High School.
There is an interesting scenario that confronts the world boxing fraternity. The International Amateur Boxing Association (or Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur - AIBA) has expanded into the professional category...
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.
Tuesday of this week, November 13, marked the 37th anniversary of the one true world boxing championship won by a Bahamian. On a night in Paris, France back in 1975, Elisha Obed stopped Miguel de Oliveira to capture the World Boxing Council's version of the junior middleweight title.
That achievement remains the centerpiece of the many ring accomplishments of Bahamian fighters. Presently, the once feared Obed is not doing well physically. He last participated in a functional capacity in a boxing environment back in 2008 when the Pan American Caribbean Boxing Organization sponsored his trip to Jamaica to be a special guest at the first Caribbean Sports Icons Awards.
Obed even then was obviously operating at a much slower pace than during his prime years, but he was still fully aware of the scene and interacted easily with other boxing legends and luminaries of the sport.
Today, he has slowed considerably more, but the rich legacy of the sport he loved dearly continues.
The rather nice history of this small Caribbean nation in professional boxing goes on through the valiant efforts of heavyweight Sherman Williams, light welterweight Edner Cherry and super featherweight Meacher Major. They are the most active of current Bahamian professional boxers.
Still adding prominence to the boxing scene however are former greats Gomeo Brennan, Wilfred Battling Douglas and Leonard 'Boston Blackie' Miller. The chief commonality for them is a topic that comes up when I chat with each of them.
Gomeo Brennan defeated both Douglas and Miller.
Brennan is 73, Douglas is in his early 80s and Miller is some years older than the listed 71. He is probably closer to Douglas than Brennan.
The question of Miller's age adds to the country's boxing lore.
Brennan resides comfortably in Miami and maintains constant contact. He has expressed a willingness to be included in the development process of the sport. The same is the case with Douglas who has made Grand Bahama his home for about 40 years now.
Miller has set the standard for giving back to the sport. Miller more than any other top boxer has remained a fixture in the development process. As a result, in the near future, he will be given the high honor of having the new boxing facility in Flamingo Gardens named in his honor. The details for the occasion will be disclosed very soon by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the Bahamas Boxing Commission. It will be real neat for Brennan and Douglas to be among the invited guests.
Their presence will be ample proof of the continuance of the excellent legacy of the sport in this country.o To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org.