NICHOLAS ‘THE AXEMAN’ WALTERS SPECIAL AWARD FOR SPORTS
As his nickname suggests, Nicholas 'The Axeman' Walters has been chopping down opponents since he turned professional in 2008. Today, with a 25-0 record, and 21 of those wins coming by knockout, the 29-year-old World Boxing Association's (WBA) Featherweight Super Champion continues to swing lethal blows. Hailing from Roehampton in Montego Bay, St. James, Walters started boxing at age seven, after watching his father 'Smoking' Joe Walters in training. And although a natural athlete in several fields, it was indeed his fists that made him his name. Walters’ meteoric rise gained momentum in 2010 when he was installed as the number 12 contender by the WBA. This arose after he became the regional FedeLatin featherweight boxing champion on December 18, 2009 in Haiti, after defeating the Dominican Republic’s Carlos Manuel Reyes on points to win the vacant title. The opponents were now standing impatiently in line, everyone wanting a crack at the Jamaican juggernaut. As the fights got tougher, Walters showed steely resolve, great work ethic and utilised his consummate power. The undefeated champion has successfully defended his title four times. Making a name for himself in boxing rings around the world, the true Jamaican has never forgotten his roots. For his achievements in boxing, and for flying the Jamaican flag high, The Gleaner Company awards Nicholas 'The Axeman' Walters with The Gleaner Special Honour Award in the category Sport for 2014. Here, key figures in the sport hail his outstanding achievements:
– Nicholas' father
I think he has developed into a beautiful human being. From day one, he has kept his head. Planting peas on good soil does not mean it is going to grow properly. You have to care it, and that's what I did and he has developed into a wonderful human being. Jamaica and the world have not seen the best of him as yet. From early, he showed that he was going to be wonderful. From the first picture I saw when he was about three months old, as I was in America when he was born, you could see how he made his fist. It seemed as if he was throwing his jab. I showed a lot of the boxers that picture and I blew it up, knowing that this was going to be a very special human being. He started out in athletics and was champion for grade one. In grade two, he became champion for the school in cross-country. As a grade-two boy, he beat all the grade five and six boys. Then he went to high school (Anchovy High), where they didn't allow seventh-grade students to compete in cross-country. I had to talk to the principal. I told him that I am teaching him to do cross-country, and that I will be standing in his corner. He entered and he beat them badly. In all his years at high school, he was champion boy. He played cricket and even captained the team. He has that charm when he is dealing with people. Not because he is my son, but I just love being around him because he is just a beautiful human being.
– Jamaica Boxing Board committee member and coach
He is one of the most courageous and disciplined youngsters I have ever dealt with. He is a coach and trainer's delight. He is always leading and has the heart of a lion. He's one of the best young men I have ever come across because he is a disciplined and decent young man. From he was about 14 years of age, he was always coming to the gym wanting to fight in the (national) championship. From that time, I noticed that he was so courageous. As he looked on at other amateurs in action, you could hear him saying 'dat boy caan beat me', and right up to this day, it's the same attitude that he goes into these big world fights with.
We went to Australia in 2006 and it was the first time I travelled with Jamaica's team as manager, and he was the living example of what a professional athlete is supposed to be. You didn't have to tell him the time to get up, the time to run. You don't have to watch his weight, as nobody watches weight like him, so he was a professional before he even made it big. That is how I would like to see athletes behave.
– President, Jamaica Boxing Board
His performances last year are a culmination of what Nicholas Walters has been all his life, which is dedication and focus. It's not surprising the success he has had. It's not overnight success, because he has been working like this since he was about five. He is very driven, and the fact that he is reaping the rewards now is evidence of the hard work he has put in. The sky's the limit for him. I think he will become a superstar in boxing, not only in Jamaica but all over the world. The world will know Nicholas Walters and respect his talent because he is an exciting fighter who is very dedicated, a true gentleman and an ambassador for the sport worldwide. I am very proud of what he has achieved and even more proud that he is Jamaican and someone the entire nation can look up to.
Since I have known Nicholas, he has always wanted to be recognised as one of Jamaica's great sportsmen. It has always been a personal thing for him and I know how proud it would be for him to hold that title of Sportsman of the Year.
* At Anchovy High School, Walters was part of a successful team that won four consecutive national boxing titles in the late 1990s; he was also champion boy for three consecutive years
* Proving that he was a well-rounded individual, he was also deputy head boy, a member of the school's Science Quiz team, which won at both the junior and senior levels, and captain of the cricket team.
* The first fighter to face The Axeman’s fury was Estaban Ramos, who he stopped in four rounds in Panama on August 2, 2008.
* Walters became the World Boxing Association featherweight boxing champion with a seventh-round technical knockout victory over tough Colombian Daulis Prescott at Jamaica's National Indoor Sports Centre on December 8, 2012.
* Nicholas 'The Axeman' Walters remains undefeated.