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A THORNY ISSUE: A hard lesson for region

Andi Thornhill

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Experience is still the best teacher.
And the lack of it has worked against the Caribbean boxers in the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships. 
They are willing and very able but they have met opponents who have much more competition experience and that’s why they have been dominated so far.
As a matter of fact, the Bajan contingent didn’t have a single competition before coming to the championships.
There are only a handful of female pugilists in Grenada and so their lone representative Chloe Toussaint came here very short of competitive work.
The Guyanese chose their two fighters from their intermediate championships but had little else to sharpen their skills for this premier event.
In fact, were it not for the Road To Barbados training programme, Caribbean fighters would have been far shorter of the work necessary for them to hold their own.
The one open secret they shared with me during the sessions is that they were subjected to the hardest training of their lives. To transition that in a couple of weeks into a serious challenge for medals would have been asking for far too much.
We have seen the results – all of them have suffered the same fate.
They are a group of boxers with enthusiasm and desire, with natural instincts to come out swinging, hoping to get it over with as quickly as possible.
This approach has been a grave error as little attention has been paid to defence and they have been wide open, causing themselves to be pummelled by opponents who haven’t been made to work as hard as they should.
The problem with just training and sparring in the gym is that you seldom get that same adrenalin rush as if you were in a real fight. You need competition to get you closer to that state of readiness.
However, mistakes can be corrected once we are willing to learn.
One of the obvious solutions to our struggles is to have an annual, dedicated Caribbean championship that would guarantee at least one significant bout a year. It can fill a void, considering that most of the region’s female boxers don’t see any competition at all right now.
Our weaknesses have been exposed exactly because the overseas fighters are highly skilled and you can see from their body language and the way they execute their game plan that they have spent years fine-tuning their ring craft.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it is within this context that we have to remain committed to our girls and ensure they get the best training and more opportunities to test their skills against world-class boxers.
The seeds have been sown. Now let us continue to water the garden to ensure we have a more satisfying harvest when we contend with the world’s best.
Experience teaches that we reap what we sow.
• Andi Thornhill is sports editor at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation and can be reached at [email protected]