Sun | Dec 10, 2017

SDF hands over refurbished house to Bunny Grant

Published:Saturday | October 7, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Olivia Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, assists former Jamaica boxing champion George ‘Bunny’ Grant in opening the door to his newly refurbished home on Weymouth Drive in Kingston on Wednesday. At left is Leroy Brown, general secretary, Jamaica Boxing Board of Control. The refurbishing project was undertaken by the Sports Development Foundation.
Former Jamaica boxing champion George ‘Bunny’ Grant (right) shows Olivia Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, that he is still the champion. Minister Grange was on a tour of his newly refurbished home on Weymouth Drive on Wednesday.
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Former Commonwealth lightweight champion Bunny Grant came in for high praise for his contribution to Jamaica from Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, the minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, last Wednesday afternoon, before she handed over to him the keys to his recently refurbished house at Weymouth Drive in Kingston.

The house needed extensive repairs, and the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) was given the assignment to restore it. Minister Grange reported that the project was completed at a cost of $3.9 million, money she said that was well spent. Bunny Grant, she pointed out, was one of the athletes that had put Jamaica on the map.

Back in 1962, she said, Grant gave Jamaica its first Independence gift when, on August 4, just two days before Independence Day, he defeated the British Empire and Commonwealth lightweight boxing champion Dave Charnley from Great Britain, at Jamaica's National Stadium, to take the title.

That victory, she said, "Gave the world a preview of the excellence that Jamaica would later produce in sport."

Grant, she pointed out, came before champions like Mike McCallum, Lennox Lewis, and Richard 'Shrimpy' Clarke. He was a trailblazer, she said, and continued, "As we celebrate Jamaica 55, we look back at the journey of our nation in every area of endeavour and tell the stories of the people like Bunny Grant, who helped to create the Jamaica that we enjoy today."

Repairing Grant's house, she said, was part of giving back to him, and thanking him for what he had done for Jamaica.

"Live in comfort, Bunny, and enjoy your house. Continue to win, you are winning now and we celebrate your achievements," she said.

Boxing Board General Secretary Leroy Brown gave a brief review of Grant's boxing achievements and recalled that the house had been purchased for Grant by his manager, Jacques Deschamps Sr, a long time ago. Deschamps, he said, had invited himself, former Boxing Board President Mike Fennell, and former Gleaner Sports Editor L. D. 'Strebor' Roberts to a private handover ceremony after the house was purchased.

"I remember that Saturday morning," Brown said, when Deschamps handed over the keys and the title to the house to Grant. He said then, "Bunny, this house is yours, it is fully paid for, and the only way that you will lose it is if you do not pay your taxes."

The Sports Development Foundation had done a great job in repairing the house, he said, and the smile that he saw on Bunny's face when he was handed the keys to the house by the minister, was more than a sign of gratitude.

Grant's eldest son, George, then extended thanks on behalf of his father and his family.

"We really appreciate what has been done by the minister, and we thank the Sports Development Foundation for the great job that they have done. Our father will be very comfortable in this house and we are grateful," he told The Gleaner.