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A THORNY ISSUE: Boxing chief’s low blow

ANDI THORNHILL, [email protected]

A THORNY ISSUE: Boxing chief’s low blow

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HOW CAN THE MEDIA report on local boxing when there’s hardly anything to report on?

Boxing – amateur and professional – is as dead as the proverbial door nail. Your only tussle is deciding to which funeral home to give the turnout.

So while the sport survives on life support, it is very disingenuous of anyone to suggest the lack of media coverage is part of the problem hampering boxing.

President of the Amateur Boxing Association, Anthony Jones, has to wheel and come again on this score.

Anytime a reporter fabricates a story about a non-existent event, he or she risks the possibility of putting his or her job on the line. Only once in a light year is there anything to be said about boxing.

The truth is that we have always given the sport generous coverage when there has been activity to write about. I, therefore, believe the president wanted to get things off his chest, but the media shouldn’t have been a target. At best, he could be disqualified for hitting an opponent with a low blow.

But I do understand his frustration with the lack of support boxing receives from the state in particular. If we draw the merit card, we can count the times boxers were the only ones to come back from major games with medals. There has been sparse reciprocity for these feats.

It was only fairly recently that the roof of the boxing gym was fixed after years and years of fears expressed by the boxers, who train there, that it might fall and injure someone.

Major keepback

Jones was spot on when he said a major keepback in the sport’s development is that it needs a permanent home of its own to stage bouts on a regular basis. Years ago the Steel Shed could be considered the main venue for such activities, but we get the impression it may not be as easy to access it like before.

The Springer Memorial School and the Netball Stadium have been alternative venues, but when you get down to the nitty-gritty, the boxing association has no automatic right to either, so it can be left in the cold at anytime.

This should never be when you consider the number of promising pugilists we have on the horizon. It comes down to disrespect for the sport and the boxers.

Many moons ago a location was identified in Oistins to build a permanent home for boxing, but after the first round, lip service sent it crashing to the canvas. It is still there dazed from from the weight of the punch. Where is the helping hand to bring such a place to fruition?

The Government talked about building an indoor facility to accommodate sports such as boxing, but clearly the economic crunch has prevented its proponents from leaving the corner. There were also whispers that the Barbados Olympic Association had similar intentions for a venue in Wildey, but this seems to be still a good intention in progress.

From pillar to post

Meantime, boxing officials are going from pillar to post to find somewhere to stage local fights. Thank God they have found a partner to stage the Caribbean Developmental Championships in December.

The other thing – perhaps the most fundamental – is that there are constant hints of internal fighting within the association and if this is so, it will undermine the ability of the body to get things done. How secure does Jones feel in his post?

I have spoken before of the need for the Government to employ at least another two coaches to supplement the outstanding work being done by the hard-working Gary Bowen.

We are spoiled for choice in this regard as there are several veterans who have the credentials to fit that role. It will also be a way of showing appreciation for what they have given to the country in the past. Loyalty is a two-way street.

Professional boxing has committed suicide. It doesn’t appear that there is any promoter around with the clout to revive it. Looks like Lazarus is staying six feet down.

Sam Layne was the likely successor to late boxing promoter Eric Sealy, but he became frustrated due to the lack of corporate support and has apparently thrown in the towel. He put a lot of his resources into it, so I don’t blame him for stepping back to assess his losses while there were no real signs that he would replenish his coffers with the assistance of external sources.

Then, there are those who come to the public and speak about bouts that never come off. That is a death with slow poison because who will take them seriously in the future?

Another deep-rooted issue is that there aren’t enough professional boxers around to sustain life beyond one, maybe two cards a year. Patrons demand quality for their hard-earned cash.

Generally, boxing has several matters – some of its own making – that need to be fixed in order that it may get back on its feet. It doesn’t make sense to pick fights with people who can actually help you recover.