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Boxers seek qualification to mark 40th anniversary

  • Valentino Knowles.

  • Carl Heild.

FRED STURRUP
Guardian Columnist/Sales Executive

Published: May 05, 2012

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A team from the Amateur Boxing Federation of The Bahamas (ABFB), inclusive of two boxers, is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, today for the final Olympic Trials. Valentino Knowles and Carl Heild, light welterweight and welterweight standouts respectively, will each be trying to ensure they snatch one of the remaining qualifying spots left for the London 2012 Olympics. If one or both qualify, it will be an excellent way to mark the 40th year since The Bahamas was first represented in boxing at the Olympic Games.

The year was 1972 and the sports extravaganza in Munich was to forever be tainted by the tragedy of the Israeli team being taken hostage and 11 athletes and coaches losing their lives. For The Bahamas however, the Games were special because one sports discipline was making its debut.

Along with sailing and athletics, amateur boxing competitors were a part of the Bahamian delegation. Nathaniel Knowles, the middleweight, was to become the first Bahamian to win a bout in Olympic competition. Also in Munich on the historic sporting occasion for his country, was the late Gary Davis, who fought in the welterweight division.

Assisting the pair in the corners were this writer (amateur boxing president at the time) and National Coach Bert Perry. It would be a fitting tribute to the pioneer efforts of Nat Knowles and Davis, if Valentino Knowles and Heild are successful. ABFB President Wellington Miller thinks the boxers will qualify. He informed that there are 38 Olympic spots available in this final set of trials. According to Miller, the top five boxers in the light welter and welterweight divisions will earn the trip to London.

“I feel confident. Valentino and Carl are each ranked among the top five within the region. I expect that they will follow through in this tournament. At the end of the day, we should have two boxers competing for The Bahamas at the Olympics in London,” said Miller.

The technical meeting was scheduled last evening and the draw for the bouts is slated to take place this morning with the competition beginning this afternoon. The boxers must qualify first and if they do, then there is the tall order of trying to equal the stellar performance of welterweight Taureano Johnson at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Johnson is a professional fighter these days, but he has left his signature on amateur boxing in The Bahamas and the wider region. His No. 5 ranking from winning two bouts in Beijing stands as the highest a Bahamian has ever been on the world list. In Rio along with Knowles, Heild and Miller, are coaches Andre Seymour and Steve Larramore.

Best wishes to the group!

To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com.

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