Sunday, Jun 16, 2019
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Controversial American heavyweight taints struggling pro boxing program

The number of sporting hats I wear include Bahamas Boxing Commission (BBC) Chairman and Commonwealth Boxing Council (CBC) President. I have long juggled sports leadership with administrative responsibilities that relate to different sectors.

Accordingly, I have always been constantly minded of the possible conflict that has surrounded me for more than 50 years now. In that regard, I refer to the recent professional boxing show that took place this past Saturday at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium, only to say from the outset in today’s column, and in the capacity of Commission Chairman, that I conducted an official meeting of the commission shortly after the controversial ending of the main event. My background led me to not make a hasty decision.

It was decided to order that the purse of veteran American heavyweight Stacy Frazier be withheld until the completion of an investigation. What follows officially will be communicated by BBC Secretary General Calvin Greene.

I can speak though to the ideal scenario for pro boxing and the difficulty faced with limited resources.

The Bahamas Boxing Commission is a quasi-government entity and as a result, is funded through grants annually by the central administration. Grants from the last two national budgets have not been forthcoming to the commission because of a technical situation the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture is well aware of.

Yet, forging ahead despite, has always been the philosophy that has guided me. Accordingly, personal revenue has been used to operate the commission, ever since I was appointed chairman in 2017. I expect I will be refunded at some point, but it is burdensome. The problem becomes even more severe when we seek to be as flexible as possible to promoters.

We (the commission) charge a meagre $300 to cover both tjhe sanction ($200), and promoter ($100), joint fee. The promoter also has to pay the costs for officials, small fees actually, averaging less than $100 each for referees, judges, timekeepers, doctors, inspectors, etc. This position was taken over a decade ago to encourage promoters, in this difficult business of the challenging financial costs of pro boxing shows.

So, ever cognizant of working with promoters, the pressure they encounter in paying travel, accommodation, and purses for all opponents; a commission with limited funds, struggles to do what is mandated by the government.

In The Bahamas, the general situation makes the national pro boxing program vulnerable to shoddy, unprepared, or misfit opponents. For promoters, in trying to operate without losing money, they take chances. The commission often obliges, to ensure competitive ring activities. You end up settling for a fighter, or two, who taint the sport with their antics and attitude.

Other than the bout against Bahamian Heavyweight Champion Sherman Williams, in which he stopped in the first round, claiming an arm injury, there were other reports regarding Frazier’s attitude.

The presence of the police was indeed a great balance on Saturday to keeping the peace. The salient matters regarding the actual fight controversy will be sorted out. That amounts really, to just another day at the office, that commissions around the world, face.

What is more compelling is the plight of the commission. The powers that be should recognize and act in accordance.

At the official medical/weigh-in ceremony this past Friday at Compass Point, in attendance was Director of Sports Tim Munnings. His presence was significant. After interacting with boxing personnel, inclusive of several fighters, he spoke to the commitment of the sports ministry to foster growth and work with sporting programs.

He sounded believable. For sure, Munnings is aware of the problems facing the commission.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address sturrup1504@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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