Amateur boxing program nationally at rock bottom

From left Carl Hield and Valentino Knowles

Vincent Strachan has a tall order in front of him. He is the successor to Wellington Miller as the president of the amateur boxing program in the country. A week ago he was elected to serve in the capacity, for the second time. He takes over the sports body now called the Bahamas Boxing Federation.
The Bahamas Boxing Federation is not to be confused with the Bahamas Boxing Commission. The commission has its very own challenges. However, its mandate through legislation is more about controlling professional boxing through regulations and safety procedures.

The sport’s primary development responsibility is that of the Bahamas Boxing Federation, presently, Strachan and company. He takes over the amateur segment of the sport in The Bahamas at its lowest period in history. The history of organized amateur boxing began in 1968.

Against great odds, the young organization, then called the Amateur Boxing Association of The Bahamas, persevered and thrived. Very quickly the ABAB became an appreciable regional and international presence.
In 1972 the ABAB made history for The Bahamas by competing in the Munich Olympics. That first Olympic boxing team consisted of middleweight boxer Nathaniel Knowles, welterweight Gary Davis, National Coach Bert Perry, and this journalist, the ABAB President, as team manager and head corner man.

Knowles made it through the first round. Two years later, Knowles with Perry and I in his corner, won a silver medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games. The ABAB became a fixture at the Florida Golden Gloves and engaged in exchange tournaments with Bermuda and Canada.

The record reflects quite a productive early amateur boxing program indeed for the country. There was continuity through the years all the way up to and inclusive of the first decade of the new millennium.
The amateur body, renamed the Amateur Boxing Federation of The Bahamas, became the Caribbean top’s power, winning the championship five years. Then, at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, Taureno Johnson won his early bouts and just missed a bronze medal.

In 2010, two boxers won bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games. Valentino Knowles and Carl Hield were the medalists.

Then, came the decline, all the way down to the program inherited by Strachan. This is a tough period all around for amateur boxing. The international parent body is in deep trouble. Controversy has rocked the organization, still known as AIBA.  A president resigned and the current one is under the microscope. AIBA is a high risk for being ruled out of Olympic competition.

The IOC’s jury is still out.

So, this is certainly not a good time for amateur boxing the world over, in comparison to yesteryear. Hopefully Strachan and his executive colleagues will be up to the task here in The Bahamas.

As the amateur boxing group entered into a Memorandum of Understanding for some joint efforts with the Commission and the Pan American and Caribbean Boxing Organization, Strachan will have support from those quarters.

He is the amateur boxing president now, albeit through controversial circumstances, and all within the fraternity ought to work together in the best interest of the sport.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at oR on WhatsApp at 72706363).

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