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Former Jamaica boxing coach Sanchez passes on

Published:Wednesday | January 20, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer

Local boxing lost one of its stalwarts early Sunday morning with the passing of Emelio Sanchez at his Pembroke Road residence in East Kingston.

Sanchez, who was 80, died of natural causes.

His association with boxing spanned 50 years, first as a ranking lightweight boxer, then as trainer for many boxers, specifically Jamaica junior welterweight champion Percy Hayles for many years.

He was also the national boxing coach and a noted referee for a number of important fights locally.

Sanchez was national coach from 1967 to 1995, during which he accompanied national teams to several Olympic Games, Common-wealth Games and Pan American Games.

In this capacity, he coached the likes of world heavyweight boxing champion Trevor Berbick, world junior middleweight boxing champion Michael McCallum, Clive Ellis and Richard 'Shrimpy' Clarke. He was also resident trainer at the Guinness Gym, Heroes Circle, for many years.

Born in the then British Honduras (now known as Belize), Sanchez took up boxing in that country as a teenager and soon established a very good record in the ring.

According to his close friend and confidant Peter Young, Sanchez, at age 26, was invited to Jamaica in 1955 and although continuing to fight locally - at one time losing on points to an up-and-coming champion Bunny Grant in 1960 - his contribution to boxing was legendary.

He was conferred with the national honour the Order of Distinction in 1983 for his services to the sport and in 1990, was honoured by the Jamaica Boxing Board of Control for his outstanding contribution.

Sanchez is survived by his wife Thelma, son Richard, daughter Rosetta, grandchildren, other relatives and friends.

A thanksgiving service for the life of the late sportsman will take place on Saturday, January 30 at the St. Patrick's Anglican Church, East Kingston.