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Sports stalwart ‘Sonny Boy’ Rahming passes at age 89

Another giant who contributed to the building and sustenance of the Bahamian sports brand has gone on into eternity.

Wellington “Sonny Boy” Rahming, a quiet mentor within the county’s sports domain, had been challenged with illness for several years, before he succumbed on Labour Day, June 7. He was 89.

Rahming was one of those unsung stalwarts. He was unassuming and functioned often very low key. You noticed the gregarious Leonard “Boston Blackie” Miller, the engaging Bert Perry, the smooth welterweight champion Ray Minus Sr., the inspirational promoter Wilfred Coakley and others of similar demeanors. All along, Rahming operated almost invisibly, although he was quite productive.

During the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s when boxing rivaled baseball and cricket for popularity in the land, Rahming was one of the key elements. In his early years in the sport, he was a boxer, and then, most notedly, a boxing trainer of underprivileged young boys. Indeed, it was in the area of training that he was particularly prominent.

Rahming was part of a historic happening. The framers of the amateur boxing program in the country (Bert Perry, Charlie Major Sr. Virginuis Knowles, Fred Sturrup and Amos Ferguson), those of that first executive group, are most often directly connected with the youth development of the sport.

They couldn’t succeed though, if not for three boxing clubs, especially.

There was the Police Boxing Club, Boston Blackie’s Club and that of Sonny Boy’s. The dedication of Rahming was beyond most. I vividly remember him riding his bicycle from his Over-the-Hill home, all the way out east to the Nassau Stadium for daily training sessions. He was such a profound mentor that each day, when he pulled into the stadium on his bike, his young boxers would already be in the gym.

His simple directive to them was: “Look, I have to go to work. When I leave work, I will ride up to the stadium, you all be there.” They were always there. It was a glorious time, that embryonic stage of amateur boxing in The Bahamas, pre-independence. Rahming and his boys were instrumental in the pace established by the amateur boxing pioneers.

With the contributions of Rahming and his boxers, the amateur program grew from strength to strength; the Amateur Boxing Association of The Bahamas (now federation) began participating in the Florida Golden Gloves; developed an annual exchange competition schedule with Bermuda; went up against Canada in a two-country tournament; evolved to the point of taking two boxers to the 1972 Munich Olympics; and subsequently won the first boxing international medal for the country.

Reference is to Nat Knowles’ middleweight silver medal at the 1974 Central American and Caribbean Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Through it all, one Wellington “Sonny Boy” Rahming was a constant.

Bahamian boxing will miss him. The sports landscape has lost a mighty achiever.

I extend condolences to the family and close friends of our late sports warrior.

May his soul forever rest in peace.

Farewell Sonny Boy!

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at 727-6363.

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