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Sealy card would be fitting tribute


Andi Thornhil

Sealy card would be fitting tribute

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ERIC SEALY was the largest figure looming over local boxing for more than four decades.
He has passed on and it will be very worthy if something is done to perpetuate his memory and indelible contribution to the sport.
Perhaps because of his own chequered upbringing, he understood the significance of using sport to channel raw aggression in the right direction better than the average administrator of any era in Barbados.
He could identify with some of the pitfalls that can be encountered by youth from working class backgrounds and that may eventually lead them astray if there isn’t a positive alternative to keep them on the straight and narrow.
This is not to say that all of the boxers Sealy assisted came from troubled environments but to his credit he tried his best to advance the cause of everybody that sought his guidance and help.
What made Sealy the first-class promoter he became was the fact that he was always determined to stage his cards even when they weren’t covered by full sponsorship.
This aspect is part of boxing’s folklore and it is important to praise the efforts of the boxing board in granting certain concessions to Sealy to allow promotions to continue when he may not have been able to meet all the conditions.
Progress at any level comes through shared visions and a mutual commitment to make things happen for the betterment of the majority if not all.
So the boxing board should be seen as a vital partner in safeguarding the welfare of the sport and by extension the future of boxers who may have fallen by the wayside if their plea for help was ignored.
I am sure this may have been the perspective that would have caused them to lend any additional assistance to Sealy and others when they were not obliged to do so, based on the tenets of the organization or the parameters by which they are guided.
During my time of covering boxing as a reporter, I found that there were some sponsors who had reservations about committing their money to the sport because they felt the promoters didn’t always show the professionalism they were looking for in putting on cards without a hitch or controversy.
Sealy may not have been an exception to this belief but yet I know that there were some sponsors like Colin DaSilva, Sir Charles Williams and the late L.E. Williams who would assist him consistently in his efforts.
In other words, they bought into what Sealy was doing because I believe they felt his intentions were good even if he wasn’t always perfect in executing his plans.
Sealy remained steadfast and undaunted in his mission and many boxers have sung the praises of the once flamboyant and articulate promoter.
Edward “Yogi Bear” Neblett always refers to Sealy as “the Godfather” whenever his name is mentioned.
Sealy would have opened the gateway to North America for the likes of Neblett and Edwin Pollard in the late 1980s through his links with American Al Bonani. Just for the record, Neblett went on to spar with Sugar Ray Leonard.
I am aware that in more recent times Christopher “Shaka” Henry and Shawn Terry Cox would also have had similar opportunities because of Sam Layne, who has succeeded Sealy as the island’s top promoter.
Here again, it was Sealy who opened this door for Layne who accompanied him to one of the World Boxing Council’s conventions in Las Vegas. Layne seized the opportunity to help lay foundations for this current crop of professional fighters, not only from Barbados but Guyana as well.
He brings some of the same charisma and persuasiveness his mentor was known for, so maybe a Layne can be the one to stage an annual professional card that carries the name of the legendary Sealy with it.
I am not talking about any ordinary card either. We need something that would reflect the panache, the indomitable spirit, the industry but most of all the universal vision Sealy had about using sport, boxing in particular, to help shape lives and save lives.
It can be conceptualized in a way that there would be a link with an organization like HBO and be aired as a pay-per-view event. There is also a role here for the Barbados Tourism Authority because depending on who is on the card, we can market it as an international affair, inducing more visitors to the island.
Such a promotion would obviously call for great financial support but more than that, a true national appreciation for the legacy Sealy has left in professional boxing.
It is what he deserves.
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced award-winning freelance sports journalist. Email [email protected]

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