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PUKO Championships wraps up in Nassau

After the 4th Annual Pan-American United Karate Organization (PUKO) Championships experienced some challenges this past weekend, organizers have put it behind them and are already planning the fifth annual show, again set for the island of New Providence, next year.

The fourth edition was held here this past Friday and Saturday at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium.
Unfortunately, only the Bahamian fighters showed up as their regional counterparts had issues getting to the event.

President of the Bahamas Karate Association (BKA) and PUKO Vice President Julian Rolle said they had a lot of challenges. He said the local athletes had to settle for some competition against each other.

“The competition was not what we expected. We had a lot of challenges with the international guests trying to get in. It was difficult with some of the documentation for them, but as far as the local competition is concerned, it went well,” Rolle said. “It is an eye opener for the beginners who competed for the first time. For the seasoned persons, they cannot wait for next year because they will have more challenges.”

In the Kata competition, Marcus Rolle was the winner in the adult black belt category. Quon Whyte was second and Marnarrey Lightbourn finished third.

Marcus Rolle is the chief instructor at the Bahamas Tong Dojo Karate Academy. He is an eighth-degree black belt. He came prepared to compete with his regional counterparts and said he was disappointed when he didn’t get the opportunity. Rolle said he is already looking forward to next year’s event and hopes it will be bigger.

“I came prepared to fight other nationalities. I was prepared to represent The Bahamas, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. I hope I get to fight them next year,” Rolle said. He added: “It looked good for the upcoming youth. We have a lot of talent out there and we just need a lot of exposure.”

The eighth-degree black belt also won the Kumite division. Shawn Smith was the runner-up.

The only competitor in the under-18 black belt category was second-degree black belt Malik Rolle.

Malik Rolle earned his black belt at 11-years-old. He is very confident about winning next year and said he is used to competing against international fighters seeing that he participates in the U.S. Open yearly.

In the Chinese Martial Arts division, Delrick Carter was the lone competitor.

Carter is a fourth-degree black belt. He studies Four Winds of Kung Fu and Karate, a style that was developed by Bahamian Sifu Kenneth P. Lewis about 47 years ago.

A stern Carter said that his guys were ready to compete, and they will not be “caught with their pants down” next year.

The top adult white belt Kata winner was Silvene Evans. He held off four other competitors. Finishing second place was Devon Bethel. Alfredo Gilardini was third in that category.

“It was an awesome experience. I was looking to make no mistakes. I made one mistake, but I continued and it worked out for me,” Evans said.

Evans started learning karate when he was younger but has been off and on. He joined the 3S Association about four months ago and took the martial arts discipline seriously again.

As for next year, Evans said he will have a better performance as he will have more time to prepare.

Devon Bethel won Kumite for this category, with Evans as the runner-up.

The lone female in competition was Rakeithra Whyte.

In the 11-12 age group, Samari Culmer was the lone competitor in Goju Kata.

Nathan Morgan won over Charles Grant in the 9-10 age category.

Branaj Culmer was the winner in the 7-8 age category. Macio Bootle was second and in third was Joel Rolle.

Ibraheem Smith and Dakario Brown were competing against each other in the 5-6 age category. Smith emerged victorious in that division.

In Shotokan Kata, Seterio Johnson won the 15-17 age group. Sophron Johnson was second. It was the same result in Kumite.

Julian Rolle said he will make sure that they start preparing for next year’s edition from as early as next week.

“Our biggest advantage right now is we have time. We did not have time for his one, but we have time for the next one. For next year’s competition, we are going to facilitate and get the word out, letting everyone know that we are going to have it. The flyers will be out next week, and the immigration problem will be sorted out with our consulate here and their consulate in their country. We are going to do the paperwork now so they can have it in place,” Julian Rolle said.

As for next year’s competition, it is set to be here in New Providence from June 13-14, 2020. There are 17 member countries in PUKO, and the organizing committee is looking to also invite non-members for next year’s competition.

Julian Rolle thanked the Ministry of Tourism, the National Sports Authority (NSA), Cable Cares and other small businesses for their assistance.

Sports Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism
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