Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
New World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight champion, Jamaica's Nicholas 'The Axeman' Walters, is pushing for the inclusion of boxing as part of the Inter-Secondary School's Sports Association (ISSA)-run sports programme.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel for many students, male and female, who are not quite adept at, say, football or netball. They don't just want to be cricketers or footballers, they know now that they can make a life out of boxing and for me that is important," said Walters, who was in his native Montego Bay to receive a cheque from one of his long-time sponsors, Fontana Pharmacy.
Walters, who only recently won the WBA featherweight belt with a seventh-round technical knockout of Colombia's Daulis Prescott in Kingston, is adamant that while boxing has been on the rise over the last two years - thanks mainly to the popular made for TV Wray & Nephew Contender series - much more work is needed.
"I say that it is a good thing to see that boxing is becoming mainstream again, but I believe that with all the talent here it should mean that the people at ISSA, for example, should start a high school boxing championship, or even at the primary school level," reasoned Walters.
"Financing of the sport is big business, but if the Government takes the lead and then others chip in with some help, getting the sport in the primary schools will be huge, because the earlier you start, the better you will become at it."
Walters argued: "Look at what is being accomplished in track and field; they start them young. It is the same with my sport, and although it will take some years, maybe 12 years to start bearing fruit, it's an investment that all should make," he said.
The positive spin-off, according to Walters, is that Jamaica will start producing a string of world boxing champions, noting that his historic win must not only be a feel-good moment in the country's history, but something that other young men and women can emulate to better self and country.
"I hope it (title success) is not just a nine-day wonder because right now I am on the lips of many Jamaicans, but what I really want to see is a programme put in place to train young boxers, to improve the coaching ability of boxing coaches, and for all to recognise that boxing is a serious exercise, like football and track and field," said Walters.