Press Release:– The South Boxing Gym in Vieux Fort can now pack a more formidable punch, thanks to a recent donation of essential equipment by the St. Lucia Boxing Association (SLBA).
The equipment included gloves, skipping ropes, mouth guards, punching bags, head guards, floor mats, hand wraps, stop watches, among other items.
Last Thursday afternoon, representatives from the gym were on hand to receive the equipment from SLBA President David “Shakes” Christopher and National Head Boxing Coach Conrad Fredericks. The presentation took place at the gym, located on the upper floor of Philip Marcellin Grounds.
“We really appreciate the kind gesture by the Boxing Association to enhance our gym,” said Cecil Kerr, boxing referee, judge and coach. “We’ve been working really hard, but were short on equipment. So it’s good that the youths can now have the equipment to train and develop themselves.”
Kerr said the gym, which has been operational for quite some time now, currently has about six boxers, but hopes to attract more in the future. The new equipment, he added, is a great way to attract new members.
Claude Charlemagne, Youth and Sports Officer for the Southern Region, expressed his delight at seeing the young men and women from the South now being in a better position to develop their craft.
“I usually watch them train here with absolutely nothing, so today I’m absolutely happy to see that they can have their own equipment,” Charlemagne said. “With this new equipment, we hope that more people will be enticed to join the gym.”
Charlemagne noted that due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, boxing is one of the non-traditional sports that can be boosted since many athletes are unable to participate in most of the other sporting activities.
“The donation is a welcome gesture, and I believe the young people will make very good use of it,” he added.
SLBA President, David “Shakes” Christopher, was also in high spirits last Thursday, noting that the gym will continue to receive the SLBA’s support.
“It’s a pleasure to donate this equipment to the South Boxing Gym, which is the second chapter of the SLBA,” said Christopher. “The donation took some time in coming and these boxers were training without equipment.”
Aside from equipment and a strong desire to succeed, the South Boxing Gym has in its arsenal national boxer Darius Cetoute and AIBA referee and trainer Cecil Kerr. They are among those responsible for developing the next crop of champions, with Youth and Sports Officer Claude Charlemagne providing them the necessary support.
While the gym will be accommodated at the Phillip Marcellin Grounds momentarily, the aim is to find a permanent home for boxing in the South which can house more equipment, including a boxing ring. Nevertheless, Christopher said the dream of decentralizing the sport will continue.
“We’re happy to see this dream come true,” Christopher explained. “I want to thank AIBA and its President, Umar Kremlev, and Green Hill for making this equipment available so that we can start our boxing decentralization programme. Vieux Fort is the first gym to receive equipment.”
He added: “We will also be donating equipment to the Bordelais Correctional Facility, Soufriere, Choiseul, Boys Training Centre, and Micoud. Our target is to reach as many as 500 boxers and our theme is for this recruitment drive is ‘Hands in Gloves, Not on Guns’.”
Jonathan “Ninja Dan” St. Rose, co-founder and director of Rise (St. Lucia) Inc., who accompanied the SLBA representatives at the handover ceremony, believes that investing in sports is a great way steer the youth away from social ills.
“When we see the amount of crime and mischief that is happening among our youth in society, we decided to take a stand by recognizing that all hands need to be on deck,” St. Rose said. “We believe that we can assist the youth in easing their frustrations through sports. We all know that sports is a force of rehabilitation – whether you’re incarcerated or on the streets.”
St. Rose said there’s already a following for boxing in his Choiseul. In the past, he stated, there was a small initiative, but plan are now underway to take it to another level.
“The Boxing Association has already spoken to an official in Choiseul and we’re already in discussion towards making that happen,” said St. Rose.
Meanwhile, Head of Rise (St. Lucia) Inc. Board of Directors, Dr. Venus “Rastaman” Cherry, accompanied Christopher, Fredericks and St. Rose on a visit to Bordelais Correctional Facility last Friday.
The aim of the visit was to meet with prison officials to discuss plans for the introduction of a sports programme at the facility that will initially include boxing, football and netball.