Former national amateur boxing champion Cabral Barriteau-Foster says Barbados has lots of raw talent that often goes unnoticed because the sport lacks proper marketing and visibility.
Barriteau-Foster who was crowned national champion in 2016 has now retired from the sport and is based in Jamaica where he works as a coastal engineer.
During a telephone interview with Barbados TODAY from Kingston, Jamaica, Barriteau-Foster said that the Barbados Boxing Association needs to make modern changes for the advancement of local boxing.
“I think that the primary problem with boxing is in its marketing and its visibility. I think boxing is not visible enough to the general public in Barbados. People don’t know that there is boxing, they don’t know it is going on. I think the boxing association has to take more modern approaches towards changing that.
“I really think that there is talent, there are good boxers and there are probably a lot of undiscovered talents as well. Youngsters that would be interested in boxing, they don’t know where the boxing gyms are. People that would be interested in doing it recreationally, just to let off some steam or to keep fit or to prove something to themselves, they don’t know where boxing is,” Barriteau-Foster said.
He added: “You see motorsport is very much in the public arena in Barbados. You see obviously cricket, football to a lesser extent and now bikini fitness has also taken a great step into the public arena.
“But I think boxing remains very much a niche sport in obscurity, where if someone who was not already a member of the boxing association wanted to start training they wouldn’t know who to talk to, where to go. That’s the main problem, it is not accessible, it is not visible.”
A solid middleweight boxer during his time in the ring, Barriteau-Foster despite moving to Jamaica close to four years ago, still finds time to train and spar occasionally.
The son of Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus of The University of the West Indies, Eudine Barriteau, and former tourism consultant Hugh Foster, said he had no regrets about his decision to take up boxing.
“I regret not starting earlier. I started boxing in my early twenties. I think if I had started in my early teens like when I went to secondary school, I definitely would have made further inroads. Although I am not sure that my parents would have allowed it.
“There is that perception especially in the Caribbean that boxing is for people who have nothing else to do. Maybe that is a regret I have. But other than that, I loved every moment of it and I think it has changed my life for the better. It has helped me prove a lot of things to myself. So, I would say that is my only regret that I didn’t start earlier,” he explained.
Despite Barbados’ limited resources, Barriteau-Foster is still happy to see young Barbadian boxers not giving up. He also mentioned the likes of Barbadian born international boxer Cobia ‘Soldier’ Breedy who continues to punch above his weight in the international ring.
“From the first time I started boxing I met Cobia, so I’ve known him a solid ten years. To see him go from being a student at school to being a world-ranked professional boxer is really emotional for me. I am just excited about it, I’m just so proud of him because of what he has been able to do purely by strength of will and talent.
“He was just determined from the beginning to do that. I think it speaks volumes because if you look at the boxing gym Cobia came from which is at the National Stadium – and without stepping on any toes might I add – the National Stadium is literally falling apart and I don’t mean that figuratively. I mean it is literally falling to pieces.
“If you look at the gym Cobia came from, the resources he had to use or the lack thereof to reach where he has reached given those humble beginnings is a monumental achievement. This also makes me believe that there are a lot more people who could convert in the same way. For instance, if there were better channels for them to reach the administrators and the boxing association,” he said.
He added: “Also if there were more attention and opportunities provided for boxers. And I think that would come once boxing is recognised as a local sport. I think there are agencies that would sponsor if they thought boxing was a thing in Barbados like how motorsport is a thing, like how road tennis is a thing. How these sports have developed local momentum, boxing has not been able to develop that momentum and I think that when it does, a lot of that raw talent that is being wasted will have a chance to shine.”