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The passing of World Boxing Council (WBC) President Jose Sulaiman Chagnon brings to a close a very interesting and often controversial era in professional boxing. The Mexican-born boxing czar who died Thursday, January 16, developed into the most colorful boxing administrator in the history of the sport, and he was associated with highs and lows.
There was the relationship with promoter Don King that was considered by many as not a healthy connection. There was the large number of decisions made regarding rankings and statuses of boxers that seemed conflicting. One particular status adjustment led to a major suit against the WBC, causing the organization about $30 million.
Sulaiman was thought of mostly as an autocratic leader. His power appeared for most of his tenure, from 1975 to his death, to be absolute. I recall a WBC Congress I attended as the second vice president of the Caribbean Boxing Federation (CABOFE). Everything went according to the wishes of President Sulaiman. He was gracious. As the chairman, he allowed opposition to come from the floor, but it was more a case of him humoring those individuals. In the end, there would almost always be a motion that favored the position enunciated by Sulaiman.
Despite that side of the late WBC chief, I found him accommodating and kind. He recognized the need to embrace boxing organizations from around the world and their representatives were treated in kind. There was the part of Sulaiman also, that made him stand head and shoulders above his fellow international boxing leaders. He was innovative and the landmark decision he brought about in the WBC, for championship bouts to be reduced to 12 rounds from 15, will long be heralded as one of the great changes in the sport.
The WBC led the way in 1983 and the world followed. Sulaiman was concerned that 15 exhausting rounds with boxers pummeling each other, resulted in punishment that could be avoided. He concluded that three less rounds would prolong the careers of many champions and contenders.
Health-conscious sports personnel and medical doctors rallied around the new championship order. It was indeed a landmark ruling and no matter the aforementioned issues that threw him into a negative light, history will no doubt judge Sulaiman favorably because really, in my view, he had a kind heart.
In more recent times, he was passionate about the transformation of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA). The body that controls world amateur boxing has now crossed over officially into the professional territory. Sulaiman was bitterly against the expansion of AIBA and expressed his view openly.
He raised "Cain" with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its support and acceptance of the AIBA in the new role. It was a fight left unfinished. Sulaiman didn't get to go the distance this time. Now, someone else will have to carry on that battle. The boxing patriarch is gone.
May his soul forever rest in peace!
o To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com.
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)
A team from the Amateur Boxing Federation of The Bahamas (ABFB), inclusive of two boxers, is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, today for the final Olympic Trials. Valentino Knowles and Carl Heild, light welterweight and welterweight standouts respectively, will each be trying to ensure they snatch one of the remaining qualifying spots left for the London 2012 Olympics. If one or both qualify, it will be an excellent way to mark the 40th year since The Bahamas was first represented in boxing at the Olympic Games.
The year was 1972 and the sports extravaganza in Munich was to forever be tainted by the tragedy of the Israeli team being taken hostage and 11 athletes and coaches losing their lives. For The Bahamas however, the Games were special because one sports discipline was making its debut.
Along with sailing and athletics, amateur boxing competitors were a part of the Bahamian delegation. Nathaniel Knowles, the middleweight, was to become the first Bahamian to win a bout in Olympic competition. Also in Munich on the historic sporting occasion for his country, was the late Gary Davis, who fought in the welterweight division.
Assisting the pair in the corners were this writer (amateur boxing president at the time) and National Coach Bert Perry. It would be a fitting tribute to the pioneer efforts of Nat Knowles and Davis, if Valentino Knowles and Heild are successful. ABFB President Wellington Miller thinks the boxers will qualify. He informed that there are 38 Olympic spots available in this final set of trials. According to Miller, the top five boxers in the light welter and welterweight divisions will earn the trip to London.
"I feel confident. Valentino and Carl are each ranked among the top five within the region. I expect that they will follow through in this tournament. At the end of the day, we should have two boxers competing for The Bahamas at the Olympics in London," said Miller.
The technical meeting was scheduled last evening and the draw for the bouts is slated to take place this morning with the competition beginning this afternoon. The boxers must qualify first and if they do, then there is the tall order of trying to equal the stellar performance of welterweight Taureano Johnson at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Johnson is a professional fighter these days, but he has left his signature on amateur boxing in The Bahamas and the wider region. His No. 5 ranking from winning two bouts in Beijing stands as the highest a Bahamian has ever been on the world list. In Rio along with Knowles, Heild and Miller, are coaches Andre Seymour and Steve Larramore.
Best wishes to the group!
To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com.
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)
It's been a month since the return of boxing to the historic Nassau Stadium and up until now, all appeared to be well. The sport was back at the 'Mecca of Boxing' here in The Bahamas, the local boxers were enthused to be fighting at home and the fans were ecstatic to witness competitive boxing again.
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).
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.
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...