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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).
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.
Minister of Grand Bahama Michael Darville recently expressed a desire to work with the national boxing program to the fullest, particularly regarding the sport in his island.
It was at an introductory meeting with the New Providence-based government-appointed body that the minister offered the assistance of his office. The outlook is special for Freeman Thurston, who heads a mixed martial arts program.
He is also the president of the Grand Bahama Amateur Boxing Association and is seeking a way to connect the programs, with guidance. The Bahamas Boxing Commission has heard his cry. Chairman
Alvin Sargent and company pledged to assist Thurston within the guidelines set out for the Commission by the Boxing Act.
In the act, the commission has no authority over mixed martial arts. The request of Thurston could end up being quite revolutionary. With no actual government-designated body to fall under, professional mixed martial arts is sort of in a limbo situation in the country.
Thurston with his overture could very well be laying the foundation for legislators to have a new look at the Boxing Act and make the effort to include mixed martial arts in the portfolio of the commission. MMA encompasses regular boxing as well as other contact art forms.
The approach of Thurston is refreshing and could give him another dimension to utilize as he tries to push the amateur boxing program in Grand Bahama. I see the gesture of Minister Darville as one of sincerity. His ministry and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture might just inspire a resurgence of contact sports in Grand Bahama - professional and amateur boxing, as well as mixed martial arts.
I congratulate Minister Darville and his associates in the Ministry of Grand Bahama, Undersecretary Cecil Thompson, Protocol Chief Dashwell Williams and others. Over at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Deputy Director of Sports for the Northern Region Gladstone 'Moon' McPhee is also very much on board.
He has offered to be the point person to network with the Ministry of Grand Bahama and the boxing/mixed martial arts fraternities on behalf of the commission.
High on the agenda is a proposed big boxing show featuring Sherman 'Tank' Williams, a Grand Bahama native. It would be simply wonderful, if the agents of Williams, representatives of the Ministry of Grand Bahama, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture can get together with the boxing commission to sort out a strategy towards a 'big show' headlining the Bahamian heavyweight champion.
Champ Williams is nearing the end of an excellent career and a couple of shows in Grand Bahama would be quite in order.
The commission plans to do all that is possible under its authority to provide the appropriate environment for Williams to close out his career in grand fashion.
o To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 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.
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 email@example.com)
Although he might have to be a bystander on crutches for a while, Meacher "Major Pain" Major is taking it in stride, and is excited for the launch of his amateur boxing club.
Major is recovering from a torn ligament that he suffered in his right ankle during the "Pain & Glory 2 - The Revenge" professional boxing show on December 7 at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium. He feels the time is right to open the amateur boxing club because the community needs something like this to help keep kids off the streets more than ever.
"Seeing all of these young kids not doing anything, that's what inspired me to open the club," said Major. "Some of them always told me that they wanted to box, but when I told them about other clubs they weren't interested. One or two of the young boys I knew who wanted to box, I found out that they were in jail. That's when I decided that I really have to do something to help these young kids. I do a youth program, but a lot of them want to box, so I figured it was the right time."
The Meacher Major Amateur Boxing Club (MMABC) is coming off its first training session yesterday. It was held in the building next to Super Value on top of the hill on Mackey Street. Major noted that this would be only a temporary venue, because once the Bahamas Government completes the necessary repairs to the national boxing center in the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex, he hopes to relocate there.
"It's the home for boxing. It's a historic place, so I'm really trying to get in there," he said. "For the time being, we will be on the top of the hill in the plaza there. I'm going to be working with PACBO (Pan American Caribbean Boxing Organization), as the New Providence representative, making sure that we provide an avenue for more amateur boxers to get involved."
The boxing sessions are free to those 17 and under. Interested persons can contact Major by texting 425-4191 or calling 552-2937. Before participating, all under-aged boxers will have to present a waiver form signed by their parents, indicating that they have received permission to be a part of the club.
With Major on crutches, Kaito Ferguson, Gregory Storr, Cassius Moss and Nathaniel Knowles will lead the training sessions.
As far as his boxing career goes, Major said there is no real timeline in place for his recovery, but he expects to be in the ring again by April.
"I started rehab last Monday," said Major. " They said it would be about 4-8 weeks, but it depends on how fast I heal up, so I'm doing what's necessary to stay healthy and hopefully I'll be back soon. Once I get the club up and running and my therapy is done, I will look to do a show in April up in Buffalo, New York."
Last Thursday, the result of Major's last fight against Brazilian Roger Rosa was changed from a technical knockout (TKO) in Rosa's favor to a no contest. The match will not count as a win or loss on either of their records.
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.
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.
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!
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