It seems even before St Lucian boxers Lyndell Marcellin and Ryan Charles arrived in Chile to compete at the AMBC Elite Continental Boxing Championships last month, they were already at a loss due to circumstances beyond their control. The two boxers lost both their bouts to highly touted Canadians.
Past President of the St Lucia Amateur Boxing Association, Joseph “Reds” Perreira travelled with the team as Manager along with St. Lucia’s Cuban Boxing Coach, Jorge Dominguez Gonsales. After flying out of St Lucia on August 26, the contingent arrived in Trinidad where they were schedule to board a flight to Chile. However, Gonsales was denied the opportunity to fly from Trinidad on COPA Airlines to Chile.
Perreira gave his take on what occurred in Trinidad. “We [St Lucia Amateur Boxing Association] had explained at the airport that he [Gonsales] would be given a visa on arrival and had sent emails to that effect and felt we went through all the proper procedure. After one hour of pleading with the authorities on Gonsales behalf things could not be ironed. We were told he had to return to St Lucia.”
With the absence of their coach, St Lucia literally had no one in their corner and was left out in the cold in Chile. They had no choice but to rely on assistance from individuals from Jamaica and the Bahamas who also had their own boxers to attend to.
Not having their boxing coach was the first hurdle St Lucia had to overcome. There were also issues associated with accommodation and meals for the boxers which Perreira referred to as being very poor.
“We initially were sharing with the Cayman Islands a very small room in a hostel,” he said, “but after one night I made an appeal and we moved to a small hotel where conditions were a bit better.
That’s not the end of it. Transportation from the hotel to the boxing venue was a problem along with the time factor associated with scheduling of bouts.
Despite having to overcome obstacles and distractions associated with this competition, Perreira has no regrets. He said “it was a difficult competition but I think it was important that we attended because that is the only way we can judge the level we are at. The basic talent is there in all the Caribbean countries, but we need to improve the local conditions which apply to Barbados, Grenada, St Vincent, Antigua etc.”
You can add the cramped and badly in need of repair St Lucia Boxing Gym to the list. “The gym at Vigie has served us well beyond your imagination,” said Perreira. “The coaches have done a very good job in difficult conditions but things must improve there for us to do better.”
It’s been questioned that unless we can compete at a high level at prestigious competitions like the Olympics, World Championships, is it worth the while having our athletes compete there?
Perreira while referring to a gentleman on a talk show who shared that same sentiment remarked: “If you take that seriously maybe only Darren Sammy and Levern Spencer might leave this country. You have to work to develop your competitors in whatever discipline you have. But you must give them an avenue to compete at a higher level and it must be based on performance at the regional level. But I don’t believe you can draw the line that nobody must travel because they don’t measure up.”
Perreira believes if conditions in Chile were better our boxers would have had a better showing. He did not regret going there and told me “it was a learning experience for the boxers and me.”
Furthermore by competing at the championships in Chile, Charles and Marcellin automatically qualified to attend the AIB Camp along with Coach Conrad Fredericks from September 29 to October 11. The camp leads up to the World Amateur Boxing Championships taking place in Almaty, Kazakhstan from October 11-26.
St Lucia’s participation at the camp and the World Amateur Boxing Championships is taken care of courtesy the AIBA-The international body responsible for amateur boxing.