Boxing in Barbados is about to get off the mat.
And it’s all because two sons will be remembering the father of the sport, Eric Sealy, who passed away last month.
Edward Pollard and Edward ‘Yogi Bear’ Neblett, two of this country’s most successful boxers from three decades ago, are set to launch a year-long event that should boost the chances to fight overseas for both amateur and professional fighters.
They plan to organise the inaugural Eric Sealy Boxing Classics, which should see boxers showcasing their talent for 12 straight months, in an effort to launch or even restart careers overseas.
The pair expects the series of bouts to put boxing back on the sports map.
The project will be spearheaded by Neblett, and the Miami-based Pollard will also be consulting, as they try to bring together the Boxing Board of Control, the Barbados Amateur Boxing Association and any other promoters, both local and overseas-based, so the sport is brought back to prominence.
“The memory of Eric Sealy deserves this. The boxers of Barbados deserve this. They need the chance we got because of Eric Sealy,” Neblett told MIDWEEK SPORT recently.
Pollard met Sealy back in 1980, and his career, through the efforts of Sealy, was higlighted by performances in the 1983 Pan Am Games, and the 1984 Summer Olympics. Neblett also competed at the same two events. Both fighters got their big break through Sealy, who promoted them in Miami.
Now they want to give back, in Sealy’s name. “Eric Sealy was the father of the sport in Barbados. He was a father to all boxers. The least we could do is arrange such an event in his name, since it would create the same types of opportunities which Eric gave us,” Neblett added.
According to Neblett, Sealy’s contribution also went past the ring. “He also tried to make us better. He wanted us to have a proper perspective on life,” Neblett said.
Pollard remembered Sealy as the most unselfish man he ever met.
“He was the type always willing to help. Some may feel different but he was the most helpful pe chance person I know,” Pollard remembered.
The former fighter said Sealy’s death had hit him like a straight right during his heyday, since he had planned to come to Barbados around Good Friday to visit him, but had been a few days too late.
“He was the one that got me to the US. He gave me my chance. He used all connections he had in those days, for both myself and Edward Neblett. It’s because of him that has made me what I am today. I’m grateful for having crossed his path,” Pollard said.
Both Neblett and Pollard rememberd Sealy as being extremely outspoken. “If he had something to say he would say it to your face, not behind your back. He told it like it was,” said Neblett. According to Pollard, Sealy never stopped working for local boxers.
“I think he did all he could for boxing. Sometimes we were in the position where no one knew where the next dollar would come from for a boxing card, and suddenly, Eric would come through and the boxers would get their chance in the ring.
“If Eric was really doing all that for his personal gain, as some people felt, he would be a very rich man. As we all know, he was far from rich. He loved his country Barbados, and worked for the people of Barbados, but probably died without a cent in his pocket.
“He just loved what he was doing. He took the sport as far as one man could have taken it.”
Neblett remembered that Sealy would constantly visit local gyms to keep an eye on fighters, some of whom he didn’t even promote at the time.