Tue | Feb 20, 2018

Paul Wright | Occupying idle hands

Published:Tuesday | January 30, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Local boxer Kirkpatrick Heron (left) of the St Thomas Gym lands a left hook on Kevona Willis of the Jamaica Defence Force Gym during an amateur bout last season on the undercard of the Wray and Nephew Contender series at the Chinese Benevolent Association Auditorium.

The continued news of multiple murders and the distrust of police is depressing. As our leaders struggle for an answer to this depressing state of affairs, the blame game goes on unabated.

Teachers in western Jamaica blame the parents, the police blame us, and those selected to serve and protect us blame anyone but themselves. The result: murders continue at an unprecedented pace. Everyone is now very afraid.

Last week, a group led by Jamaica Boxing Board of Control (JBBC) executive member Kingsley Goodison organised and presented the National Amateur Boxing Championships for 2018. The three-day event started with a weigh-in and medical examination of 50 young men and women, all striving to be national champions. These 50 young Jamaicans had been training, watching their weight and paying attention to the instructions of coaches at boxing gyms spread across the island.

Boxing provides an important outlet for some of the marginalised of our population, who are introduced to a sport that demands discipline, talent and an appreciation to detail, that ensures that anyone who participates in boxing really has no time (or inclination) to waste time and participate in illegal or unproductive activities. Therefore, it would be easy to believe that corporate Jamaica, businesses and companies, whose leaders moan daily about the present crime problem would be the first to come on board, and meet with and make proposals to members of the JBBC as to how soon can they invest in and support this project (called boxing).

 

HOPE AND OPPORTUNITIES

 

This can, and will give hope and opportunities to our young men and women who are crying out for help. A visit to anyone of these gyms where our young men and women train, would soon let the visitor realise that if only there were material and financial help for these patriots, who, under what is really substandard conditions for athletes training for competition, continue to defy the odds, and try to improve themselves and hopefully, "make it in life".

The competition, spread over three days, had its high points and its low points. The mast glaring 'deficiency' was that the majority of the participants came to these championships to fight, few came to box. I got the impression that some of the coaches and participants do not seem to understand that boxing is indeed 'the sweet science' and a 'knock-out' is only one way of winning a boxing match. The high point: the quality of some of our young Jamaicans on show. National lightweight champion Marvin Shea from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Gym was voted the best boxer of the tournament. In the final, he went up against the highly accomplished amateur boxer Ricardo Carter. Shea oozes confidence, and in the first round of a three-round bout displayed all the natural skills one would expect from an accomplished national representative. However, by the middle of the second round, the superconfident Carter soon realised that Shea was not in any way awed by his skills, and relentlessly surged forward, absorbing punishment, but (most importantly) delivering some telling body shots, and the occasional stinging reminder that his opponent should protect himself at all times. The result, a victory and a standing ovation from a very appreciative crowd at the Stanley Couch Gym on Victoria Avenue in Kingston.

 

DESTINED FOR GREATNESS

 

Joshua Fraser, a Canadian with Jamaican connections, whose ambition is to represent Jamaica in International competitions, was another stand-out boxer of superlative skills. He easily won the title of national welterweight champion and seems destined for great things. Omar Campbell, the national heavyweight champion coached by the legendary Carl Grant, displayed such awesome power, that to dub him as the local 'George Foreman' would be an accurate description of this boxer's potential. Other winners included Anthony Burke, national Bantamweight champion; Patrick Sahadeo, light welterweight national champion; Jonathan Hanson, middleweight champion; Ian Darby, light heavyweight champion; and Frank McKenzie the super heavyweight champion. Boxers from the JDF gym were a cut above their opponents due not only to the technical expertise of the support staff at the JDF, but due in no small way to the resources of the army, that supports wholeheartedly the identification and development of young Jamaicans with talent. What if, suppose, just think of the possibilities if the work and initiatives of the JBBC, under the leadership of the board member with the responsibility of coordinating the amateur programme, Goodison, was given tangible support and the many boxing gyms and programmes scattered throughout the island, assisted with infrastructure and financial assistance? This monster called crime would be tamed through sports, providing supervised activities with an opportunity to get mental, physical and financial well-being. Corporate Jamaica, and well-thinking Jamaicans with the financial wherewithal, stop the blame game and invest in our young. It definitely is worth it.