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Local amateur boxing needs restructuring

Sports Scope
  • Wellington Miller.


Published: Oct 03, 2013

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The Amateur Boxing Federation of The Bahamas (ABFB) came into being officially in 1969. The footing was solid from the start and just three years later in 1972, the organization had become established enough to produce two Olympians, Nathaniel Knowles, a middleweight and the late Gary Davis, a welterweight.

Both fought well and made Bahamians proud. Knowles won his first round match, and Davis distinguished himself during a decision defeat to Maurice Hope who later went on to win a world middleweight title. Two years following the 1972 Munich Olympics, Knowles and Davis represented The Bahamas at the 1974 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Again, they proved that amateur boxing was one of the mainstream sports in the country.

Knowles captured the silver medal in the middleweight division, making history in the process as the first Bahamian boxer to hit such a milestone. Davis, on the other hand, although in defeat, demonstrated that he belonged at the elite level. He lost a close decision to Michael McCallum, the Jamaican youngster who later became a three-division world title holder.

Meanwhile, the amateur organization had developed a vibrant national program that included exchange competitions with Bermuda, Canada and Florida, plus Golden Gloves representation in Florida on an almost-monthly basis. The young boxing group also staged numerous tournaments at the Nassau Stadium base of operation.

The amateur boxing program has been sustained through the years, negotiating hills and valleys. Presently, it is on the down slope of a high mountain of success attained through Taureano Johnson, Valentino Knowles and Carl Heild who led the way in the ring as prime sports ambassadors these last 10 years.

Now, just Heild is left and the ABFB is in need of being restructured. President Wellington Miller (who also heads the Bahamas Olympic Committee) is convinced that the program needs “a good looking over”. Thus, he has informed that he is prepared to address the present situation in a “very serious way”.

“Yes, there is no doubt the whole amateur boxing scene needs to be examined seriously. This is a time for full reflections so that we can begin putting the boxing ship in order. I’m very proud of what we’ve done over the last decade or so. We’ve gone to new heights, been the best in the Caribbean region for over 10 years and had three boxers rated among the best in the world,” said Miller.

In truth, Johnson, Knowles and Heild all earned top five rankings in the wider region of the Americas and became noted the world over as quality ring performers. Heild carries on. The challenge for Miller and company is to get a major talent search going, throughout New Providence and the Family Islands, and afford young boys (and girls) in this gender-equal sports global environment, the opportunity for wholesome development.

It is suggested that Miller takes a good look at the administration of amateur boxing in the country to recognize the many shortcomings. Miller is incredibly burdened because seemingly, he gets very little substantive administrative help. Also, when it comes to generating funds to bolster the national amateur boxing program, it doesn’t appear that he can look left or right and get any meaningful assistance.

In the vast majority of instances, either Miller personally finds the funding, or nothing at all happens. It is scary for any program, when one man is pushed into a corner whereby he has to almost do it all. While all of the other core disciplines arrange and coordinate local tournaments and competitive interaction with other national representatives, the ABFB fails miserably in this regard.

I pity and congratulate Miller. I have a lot of sympathy for the administrative situation he finds himself in with amateur boxing. On the other hand, he is to be applauded for being the main driving force for amateur boxing in the nation during the present era.

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

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