Minister of Sports and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe has been the target of several desperate calls by boxing stakeholders for the T&T Boxing Board to be appointed.
Among the stakeholders is a former national boxer, now turn coach, Leslie “Tiger” Stewart, a former World Boxing Association (WBA) light heavyweight champion who defeated Marvin Johnson by TKO (technical knockout) in 1987.
He has been joined by another ex-boxer Ulric Johnson, Kirt “The Technician” Sinnette, the man who represented T&T at the 1996 Olympic Games and boasts of a record of 22 wins, three losses and no drawn matches from a total of 25 fights; and Reynold Cox, the current coach/manager of the T&T boxing team which is currently at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
The sport has been without a boxing board since April 16 of this year when the term expired. The call by the four former boxers comes as nothing can happen in the sport.
The board is a regulatory body which plunges into action when sanctions are needed for fights to take place, for the issuing of medicals ahead of bouts and for the granting of licenses, among many other areas.
Cudjoe when quizzed recently about the matter said there was a need for a replacement for Cleopatra Borel, one of the board members who could no longer serve.
Apart from her, the other members are Barry Ishmael, the then chairman and ordinary members Terry Young, De Rochelle Mohammed and Christophe Braithwaite, who replaced Symon De Nobriga in 2020 as he contested the General Elections.
The former boxers said they need the board to be appointed now for the sport to move forward.
Stewart in his account on July 27 said: “When will amateur boxing get going again, hosting the games next year is good, but we are doing an injustice to our young boxers who are not getting the opportunity to gain and develop in the ring during a real contest.
“No Boxing Board halfway through the year, our youths are not developing. The main part of a boxer’s development is an actual contest, so please convey this to those who are responsible for the progress and betterment of the sport.”
Johnson in another account said: “When will the Boxing Board be reconvened?
“This is the question I am asking, it’s been well over two years since our young and upcoming boxers have been allowed to showcase their talents, and they are dissatisfied with the inactivity of boxing tournaments. Now that the covid-19 restrictions have been eased somewhat and boxing cards can be held, there is no board so that boxing bouts can be held for young and upcoming boxers to represent, not only their gyms but most importantly T&T.
“In the coming year, there will be a number of boxing events taking place both locally and abroad where most of our athletes will be participating. Unfortunately, due to very little or no ring experience, they will be placed at a disadvantage in making a good or great impression.
“I am pleading to the powers that be, that measures be taken to ensure that adequate and knowledgeable persons be instituted as soon as possible to form a new and effective Boxing Board so that our boxers can get the opportunity to advance themselves in our country and the boxing world.”
“Madam Sports Minister, I am a former national boxer who represented T&T at the Caribbean Games, CAC Games, Pan American Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games. I am the national junior coach for T&T and for me to represent my country with confidence and pride the boxing board would have had to be in place.
“T&T is about to host the Junior Commonwealth Games next year and live competition will be part of their preparation, which cannot take place without a boxing board. I am kindly asking you to please appoint the board for our boxers to compete at events in T&T.”
According to Cox: “It is very difficult for us at the moment, because we still for two years, haven’t had real competition in T&T and it is very difficult for us to go forward.
“It’s difficult for us to ratify national teams, we had no National Championships since 2019, so that means that national teams have been in place for two years and it’s not good or healthy going forward to take a team into Olympic qualification in 2023 without a national championship.
The calendar of events for boxing for the rest of the year and next (2022/2023) has been put out and it includes:
1 The Caribbean schoolBoys/Girls/Jrs Georgetown, Guyana,
2 Caribbean Elite/Youth Championship,
3 CAC Qualifier 2023,
4 CAC Games 2023,
5 Pan American Games Qualifier 2023,
6 Pan American Games 2023,
7 SchoolBoys/Girls/Jrs Caribbean Championship 2023 and the
8 Olympic Games Qualifiers.