While professional boxing in Barbados remains in a hiatus, the sport is very much alive and punching in the amateur ranks.
President of the Barbados Boxing Association (BBA), Richard Atwell, told Barbados TODAY amateur boxing was vibrant but like all sports, the association’s programme for 2020 had been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has been a great leveller causing global panic, death and economic uncertainty. It has cause almost everything to halt and sports has not been spared. The BBA has had to cancel or put on hold – we don’t know for how long – all competitions until we get a directive from the Government to resume,” he said.
Atwell added: “Competitions directly impacted include bouts scheduled for 11th April for emerging boxers. Our local coaching course slated for April will be postponed as well. This affects aspiring coaches who want to move on to the AIBA 1 star coaching certificate. This year’s course would have a first aid element to it. Other events that might be in line for cancellation or postponement also include the AMBC Youth Continental Championships dated from April to June. This is for the Americas. Schoolboys & Girls Championship in Guyana in August, the AIBA Congress in June has also suffered. Our main event in November, although far off, may have some fallout due to the virus because teams from England and Canada are part of the original plan.”
Atwell said that one of the important goals the association was trying to achieve in 2020 or 2021 was a home for boxing. He explained that his organization was working with the Boxing Board of Control and the Ministry of sports on this venture.
“It will not only be a home for amateur boxing but professional boxing as well and will be shared with the other combat sports on the island. A home base would solve a lot of our current challenges, for example, wear and tear on the ring because of constant movement, early advertising – the venue will be known. Also starting events on time – everything will be set up permanently,” he said, adding that such a facility could be used to generate revenue and for fitness sessions, among other initiatives.
The boxing administrator noted that the rescheduling of the Olympic Games to July next year, had impacted on Barbados’ top Olympic female hopeful Kimberly Gittens, as well as the likes of Charles Cox who were all in intensive training.
“Kimberly Gittens just returned from a camp in Canada and the Independence Cup in Santa Domingo and she was in local training preparing for the Olympic Qualifiers. Jabali Breedy just returned from a training camp in Washington, Charles Cox also competed in the Independence Cup and was part of the local training camp. I am sure there are all a bit disappointed. But if you look at the positive side of things we now have more time to prepare – as soon as the go ahead is given. The BBA is still trying to source funding to send Ajayi Jones to the trials in France in May. He would be our fourth athlete looking to qualify. This was the original plan which will most likely change now,” Atwell said.
Among the association’s future plans, Atwell indicated, was a grassroots programme targeting younger ages and looking to build a nursery for the sport. He said they would be seeking to showcase the sport to the executives and boardroom members of corporate entities, highlighting the fitness and technical benefits of training and having a fun boxing event after the training period ends. He said they would develop a category that catered to persons 40 years and over who might still want to pursue their dreams of getting into the ring. “It’s a boxing for all philosophy,” he said.
Atwell stated that the association was also looking to increase its membership by recruiting more youthful talent for its future administrative growth. He stressed that new thinking and new energy would keep the BBA alive and well.