Not merely content with reenergizing their own boxing program, the St Lucia Amateur Boxing Association (SLABA) is taking on a much bigger challenging-revitalizing the OECS Boxing Championships which they host at the Vigie Multi-Purpose Sports Complex May 31 and June 1.
At Tuesday’s press conference at the Ministry for Youth Development and Sports conference room at the Blue Coral Building, President of the SLABA, David “Shakes” Christopher, spoke about reviving the OECS Boxing Championships by staging after being stagnant for many years. The championship was last here in 2006, under the presidency of Joseph “Reds” Perreria. The association planned to host it again in 2010, but were thwarted by Hurricane Tomas. They had better luck in 2011, when Grenada, Antigua and St Lucia competed in the championship here.
This time around the SLABA with assistance from the St Lucia Olympic Committee (SLOC) and the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, this year’s competition looks very promising. Countries expected to compete are Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and host country St Lucia.
Christopher said: We hope their presence will help revive boxing in the Eastern Caribbean. We know boxing presently in the Caribbean is not what it used to be since the disbandment of CABA. We are now under the banner of IABA. St Lucia is now leading the way again in reviving and bringing all the OECS boxers together in a nice, friendly way, where we can claim our stake and create champions in the OECS.”
Some may think its pie in the sky, but based on their success over the years, Christopher is hopeful the association will have a boxer deliver St Lucia’s first Olympic medal. He feels they are on the right track.
Second Vice President of the SLABA, public relations officer/boxing team manager, Brian McDonald, gave an update on the preparation of boxers leading up to the championship, which intensified last week with the first of two camps to sharpen their skills.
McDonald then went on to name St Lucia’s squad for the OECS Boxing Championships and their weight division: Trevon Lynch (50 kg flyweight); Heslie Louis (56 kg bantamweight); Alex Poyotte (featherweight); Yenic Louis (60 kg lightweight); Lindell Marcellin (64 kg light welterweight); Kyghan Mortley (welterweight); Arthur Langilier (75 kg). In addition, Ryan Charles who is based in England joins the squad on May 27 and will compete in the heavyweight (75 kg) division.
The contingent also consists of head coach, Conrad Fredericks; assistant coach, Miguel Auguste; and is managed by McDonald.
Two notable absentees from the squad are Travis Maynard who sustained a slight injury and constable Dalton “The Hurricane” George whose work commitments did not provide sufficient time to train.
Nevertheless, McDonald feels the squad is an experienced and talented one with the likes of Langilier, Marcellin, Mortley and Charles.
President of the SLOC and acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, Fortuna Belrose, commended the SLABA for their efforts at reviving the OECS Boxing Championships. She said the work the association has put into boxing is tremendous and noted that about 80 boxers are involved in the program.
Boxing did have the luxury of having fulltime coach from Cuba Ronaldo Toledo,at their disposal, but his departure left a huge void. Belrose did say the ministry is working with Cuban authorities to bring another coach to St Lucia.
That’s all well and good, but I am sure what SLABA officials were hoping to hear from the SLOC Prez and PS during her brief address, was further news regarding plans for a new boxing gym. It didn’t happen. They remain one of the few National Sports Federations who continue to flourish despite not having a proper facility.
The SLABA is counting on the public to come in large numbers to support what should be a superb OECS Boxing Championship, showcasing several top national boxers competing.