Even though the Barbados Boxing Association needs a home and there have been a few calls for this to become a reality, at least one of Barbados’ boxing legends does not believe that is the answer or remedy to advance the development of the sport locally.
Edward Yogi Bear Neblett, Barbados’ 1983 Pan American Games representative and a competitor at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics said that it doesn’t really matter whether boxing has a home or not. During a telephone interview with Barbados TODAY, Neblett explained that it all comes down to the ability of Barbadian boxers and experienced trainers that are capable of getting the job done.
“I would be the happiest person in the country if we were allowed to have a home for boxing in the country. But on the other hand, having ten homes for boxing is not going to make a great boxer.
You might be able to afford headgear, a pair of boxing gloves, and all the necessary things for boxing but at the end of the day you are not near past my ability and I can’t afford them. I am happy for us to have a good international gym but that is not going to make a great fighter. It has to come from the training and it has to come from experienced trainers,” Neblett said.
He added: “We now have several trainers, so it appears to me now that it doesn’t take much to be a boxing trainer anymore. The way it is now the international body calls for certain criteria and by all means, you must follow the rules of the international body if you need to progress.
“I don’t think they are going wrong by asking for star one, two, and three coaches.
I think they are going wrong by allowing people who don’t know how to put a guy into a proper stance to even sit for the star one, star two courses. So, you could become a star one, star two coaches and don’t know how to bring me from this stage to that stage in boxing and that is where boxing is going to hell in a handbasket.”
However, Neblett who is a member of the BBA strongly believes that the current body led by president Melissa Branford- Jones is capable of pushing local boxing to a higher level if given the chance and the protocols ease up.
In fact, with the right type of support, the outspoken Neblett said he had confidence in the current generation of elite boxers.
The likes of Jabali Breedy, Charles Cox, Kimberly Gittens, and Mary Fraser, to name a few.
“Every time is different. In our time we marketed ourselves. We trained whether we heard about boxing coming off or not, we exercised every day and trained in the gym every day because we loved the sport. We didn’t train because there was a fight coming up, we trained because we loved the sport and wanted to be in shape for when a fight happened. So, therefore we were always in shape so that when a fight came up, there would be no excuses.
“I find that today guys need to have an event insight to train. Back in the day, we were motivated to be boxers in general. Now I find guys have to be motivated by date or event, that is a big difference. I don’t like to compare fighters from before with fighters now. When you have the youngsters, they usually tell you boxing moved on from back then. That is what you hear from the youngsters. But if you look at the two eras, you would see boxing dropped back locally, regionally, and internationally.
“Now technically, I do have confidence that the youngsters can go far. I think with the right training and the right support boxers can go way further than any of us have gone. I am going to do my best to see if I can push any boxers to the highest level that they can achieve. There is only one way to do that, the boxer has to be committed, dedicated, and be a good listener. That is the only way they can learn. Nobody can achieve anything if they already know, so listen and learn,” Neblett stressed.
Additionally, he believes that more support is needed around local boxing gyms and made reference to the fact that boxers today have way more access to gear than those during his time.
He also made mention that boxers also have the Barbados Boxing Association, the Barbados Olympic Association, and many others rendering assistance.
Always willing to give a helping hand, Neblett also imparted whatever knowledge he could to former national boxers and champions, the likes of Christopher ‘Shaka’ Henry, Shawn-Terry Cox, Kelly Thomas, and Ricardo Worrell to name a few.
Neblett turned professional in 1985 and fought a couple of times in Barbados before moving to Miami and was hired and paid by five different world champions, the likes of Simon Brown, Marlon ‘Magic Man’ Starling, Darren Van Horn, Freddie Pendleton, and the great Sugar Ray Leonard.
Neblett expressed some disappointment that those champions believed in him while his own country didn’t.
“If those champions believed I was good enough to help them win fights, I cry shame on my country for not using my talent for so many years.
“We have guys like Tyrone Downes who fought for the world championship against Jeff Fenech of Australia and who was the British Commonwealth Champion. We have the last standing middleweight champion of this country Curtis Killa Miller and people ignore and disrespect our experience and talent.
“I want to encourage the youngsters to remain humble, respectful, peaceful and that would take you a long way. Never think that you know everything, I am a professional and still learning. The older guys are not here to ridicule the youngsters, we are here to push you further than we went,” Neblett stated.