Leroy Brown, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica's boxing fans were promised another scintillating, competitive series by promoters MJK Productions for the 2013 version of the Wray and Nephew Contender extravaganza, which was officially launched at the studios of Television Jamaica (TVJ) on Saturday.
The launch was taped and will be broadcast next Wednesday at 9:30 p.m., the same time that the series will be broadcast live by TVJ each week. The series, which has been approved by the Jamaica Boxing Board of Control, will start on March 6 and the venue will be the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium on Old Hope Road in St Andrew.
Competition this year will again be for middleweights. This was the featured division in 2010, the first year of competition, when Rikardo Smith from the Hard Knocks Gym in Savanna-la-Mar was crowned the champion. Last year the welterweights were featured and Donovan 'Police' Campbell from the Stanley Couch, in Kingston took the honours.
The 16 boxers who were selected to participate this year include some who participated before and include the two beaten finalists - Devon Moncriffe in 2010 and Ramel Lewis in 2011.
As is customary, they have been broken down into two teams, Green and Yellow. The Green team is: Richard Holmes, Ramel Lewis, Derrick Spencer, Everton Eccleston, Allan Cann, Richard Reittie, Marvin McKay and Kevin Carr. The team leader will be the Bruising Gym's Carl Grant and he will be assisted by Joseph Harrison, who runs the Heavy Metal gym in St Ann's Bay.
Members of the Yellow team are: Tsetsi Davis, Devon Moncriffe, Derrick Spencer, Everton Eccleston, Richard Holmes, Allan Cann, Kevin Carr and Richard Holmes. The team Leader is Andrew Boland, who runs the Hard Knocks gym in Savanna-la-mar and he will be assisted by Marvin Anderson, who also hails from that gym and was a competitor last year.
At the launch, there was a buzz of excitement when two Jamaican participants, who formerly resided overseas, were introduced. The first was Richard Reittie, who was born in Jamaica but left the island with his parents at age 10, and still lives in Canada.
He told The Gleaner that it was "a dream come true" for him as he has wanted to fight in Jamaica for a long time. He also predicted that he would become the 2013 champion. The second foreign-based boxer, Allan Cann, was also born in Jamaica and lived in the US for many years. He returned to Jamaica recently.
Natalie Neita-Headley, the minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for sport, said she was happy that the series was coming back for a third year and commended the Jamaica Boxing Board, sponsors Wray and Nephew, Foska Oats and TVJ for doing a good job.
Boxing, she said, has had a resurgence, as shown by Nicholas Walters, a home-grown boxer winning the World Boxing Association featherweight title on local soil last December. She emphasised the need for better infrastructure and facilities and said an effort had to be made to give the sport what it needed to grow.
Wray and Nephew will be the name sponsors and Foska Oats and TVJ the associate sponsors.
Full Caption: Natalie Neita-Headley (left), minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for sports, strikes a boxing pose with Shanique Earl (right) and Satara Elliott, while Wray and Nephew's brand manager for Owned Brands, Cecil Smith, (second left) looks on during the launch of the Wray and Nephew 'Contender' series on Saturday at the studios of Television Jamaica. - Contributed