JIS News

In an effort to breathe new life into the sport of boxing, the Jamaica Boxing Board of Control (JBBC) says it will be placing greater emphasis on the development of boxing among the youth.
In an interview with JIS News, General Secretary of the JBBC, Leroy Brown, said that one of the things that the Board is trying to do is to get into places like Alpha, Boys Town, the SOS Village and heavily populated areas,such as Portmore, St. Catherine, where it is believed that there is a ready pool of boxing talent available.
“If we can get those youngsters to start boxing, and if we can set up gyms and get proper training, the potential is endless,” Mr. Brown said.
He said that while some people might be averse to the notion of youngsters being introduced to the sport of boxing, given the level of violence in society and the somewhat violent nature of the sport, there are many positives as it trains the mind, as well as teaches and reinforces discipline.
“A lot of sports have a certain amount of violence in them, but the thing in boxing is that it is controlled. Boxing teaches you discipline, and this is what a lot of people forget that you go in the ring and it is structured. You don’t just go in there wild and throw(punches). It teaches you discipline and it teaches you skills. You have to use your brain and your motor skills, because hand/eye coordination is important,” he noted.
“There are so many pluses to this sport, but many folks just look at the negatives. They see some blood and they use that little 5% to negate the 95% gain that can be had from the sport”, he continued.
Mr. Brown further argued that for youngsters who excel, especially those from poor families, boxing can present life changing economic opportunities, as with other sports.
“It is a tremendous outlet for youngsters and, you look worldwide, boxing takes youngsters off the streets and in many cases make them into millionaires. So the potential where boxing is concerned is extraordinary. This has happened through the years,” Mr. Brown claimed.
He commented that all Jamaica’s top fighters were youngsters from the inner city and from poor families, including Bunny Grant, Michael McCallum and Trevor Berbick.
He said that the success of those boxers was proof that Jamaica has the expertise to produce world class boxers. However, he admitted that professional boxing in Jamaica is in need of a renaissance.
“I must confess that professional boxing is at a low in Jamaica that it hasn’t been for a very long time. All along the years we have had our professionals, but there has been a dearth where that is concerned”, he lamented.
Fortunately, though, more vibrant gyms are cropping up and the boxing population is gradually increasing. Recently, there have been two new entrants – the Heavy Metal gym in St. Ann and the Stony Hill gym in St. Andrew.
“These two are very vibrant gyms, especially the Stony Hill gym that has come into being since last year August, but is one of the most highly populated gyms right now. They have about 25 youngsters, both male and female. The Heavy Metal over in St. Ann has about 20 boxers that are coming to that gym on a regular basis”, he explained.
This increase in activity helps the sport to produce role models that can inspire, he said, pointing to Nicholas Walters as one such boxer.
“Right now, we have young Nicholas Walters from the Job Walters gym in Anchovy. He is in Panama. He turned professional in August last year and he has had 7 fights, 7 victories and he’s going to be fighting regularly in Panama this year,” he advises.
“Now if Nicholas makes it, he could be the boxing ‘Bolt.’ He would be our latest role model and could help the sport in a lot of good ways. If he does well and goes back to Anchovy, where he’s already a hero because of his amateur successes, the effect he will have and, of course, many other youngsters just listening when they hear how good he’s doing they will want to be like Nick”, he suggests.
But, Mr. Brown admits that for the resurgence and the potential to transition to tangible gains for the sport of boxing, sponsorship and quality trainers are essential.
“Sponsorship is the key and we could do with a little more money from the government. Even if not financially, assistance with at least one coach from overseas to come in and help our trainers to train the boxers. If that happens, I think you will see the sport really taking off,” he remarked.
In relation to corporate sponsorship, he says that last year the JBBC had some good sponsors.
“The JBBC gets assistance from the Sports Development Foundation. Burger King gave us some money last year, along with Wisynco. If we had a few more companies like that, it would make a world of difference to us,” he pleaded.
He also points out that there has also been assistance from other entities, such as Sun Island.
The funding received from Burger King allows the board to put on bi-monthly shows, but Mr. Brown is convinced that if they had another sponsor like that, they could have a show every month.
He said that the President of the JBBC, William Tavares-Finson, is in discussions with various people in the business sector.
There is, at least, one firm commitment from a sponsor to support a few Professional-Amateur (Pro-Am) cards. If these discussions come to fruition, Mr. Brown is optimistic that 2009 will be “good for boxing.”

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