The year 2022 is shaping up to be a good one for the sport of boxing, president of the T&T Boxing Association Cecil Forde has said.
The local boxing boss has led the way in doing the groundwork in anticipation of having the sport go on as in previous years.
Now, he is planning to have in-the-ring boxing action, starting with the National Championships, which was among many other boxing tournaments to have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years.
Speaking to Guardian Media Sports on Tuesday Forde said: "2022 looks very promising, we have done a lot of groundwork and as long as we remain focused our achievements will be great. Our main achievement so far has been our ability to continuously keep qualifying our athletes at the highest level, and now that we are winning medals on the international circuit, it clearly shows that our coaches and our technical team have successfully made the transition from the Caribbean to world-class boxing."
This transition was aided by a development programme that catered for all categories of boxers, inclusive of the elites, youths and juniors and ladies almost three years ago.
Last year, the country's super heavyweight boxer Nigel Paul was a beneficiary of the programme, qualifying for the World Championships where he won a bronze medal; middleweight fighter Aaron Prince competed at an Olympic Games for the first time in Tokyo, Japan; junior boxers Nyrell Hosein and Juan Rodriguez contested the Pan Youth Games qualifiers in Colombia where only Rodriguez qualified; Blessing Waldrop (63kg), Anthony Joseph (60kg) and Donnell Phillips (57kg) all had their first taste of World Championships boxing, while Tianna Guy, the lone T&T female boxer was sent to an Irish boxing programme to follow up on her stay at the local development programme here.
He said: " Presently our team for 2024 is already in preparation. Our greatest challenge would be to keep them together and focus. Funding would be our number one priority. The pathway to Paris 2024 begins this year. In March it's the Continental Championships in Ecuador, which will be a ranking for our athletes. Then there's Female World Championships in May in Turkey and Commonwealth Games in July/August. We are still awaiting word on the Caribbean Games to be held in Guadeloupe, and the Caribbean Championships."
He continued: "Locally, we have set January 28th, 29th and 30th to host our National Championship, but this is solely dependent on the government giving the ok for sports to resume, especially contact sports. We are presently preparing for this as we are making the necessary proposals to the necessary Ministries involved, and we're having serious dialogues with all our members. Getting everyone functioning is important. We are looking forward with great anticipation to the proposed Community Boxing Programme, which is being spearheaded by the T&T Boxing Board of Control will get the approval of the Ministry of Sports and Community Development.
This will be a major achievement for the development of boxing locally and would play a major role in community development programmes."
Forde said their development programme and all the other achievements of the sport could not have been done with the involvement of the Ministry of Sports and its minister, the TTBBC, AIBA, the sponsors, coaches, technical staff, referees, judges, parents, media and most of all the athletes.