Local group calls for recognition for Obed
In a year in which the long awaited Bahamas Games is set to return, the nation celebrates its Golden Jubilee 50th independence, and the CARIFTA Games is hosted here for a record ninth time, a group of Bahamians is petitioning to the government of The Bahamas for recognition of this country’s sports heroes, specifically Everette ‘Elisha Obed’ Ferguson who passed away four and a half years ago at the age of 66.
Obed, as he is affectionately called, is The Bahamas’ first and, to date, only legitimate world champion in boxing. He defeated Brazilian Miguel de Oliveira, who passed away in 2021, for the World Boxing Council’s (WBC) light middleweight title in Paris, France, in 1975 – two years after The Bahamas’ first year of independence.
Obed ended his career with a win/loss/draw record of 91-22-4 with 60 knockouts (KOs). There were three no contest fights. He started his career with 64 wins in his first 67 decisions including the world title win over de Oliveira.
Former Bahamas Boxing Federation (BBF) President and former Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) President Wellington Miller said praise and recognition for Obed is long overdue.
“People in the region appreciate when their athletes do something for their country and it is time something be named after Obed here in The Bahamas – a lot of people are asking about it and a lot of people want it,” said Miller. “We shouldn’t have to wait 50 and 60 years or for when people die to honor them, and for Obed, this is long overdue. There is a group of us who are starting this movement and we would love for it to happen this year – during the nation’s 50th independence celebrations. Obed was just two years after independence, and he is a national hero, so it’s only fitting that we honor him in some significant way.”
Miller and the group are proposing the naming of East West Highway, from Robinson Road to the juncture of Tonique Williams-Darling Highway to be named after Obed, and he is also proposing that Shaunae Miller-Uibo get some recognition and honor this year – possibly the renaming of John F. Kennedy Drive after her.
“It’s not just Obed. We want accolades and recognition for more Bahamian athletes and heroes. The naming of the stadium after Tommy Robinson and the naming of the highway after Williams-Darling, we appreciate all of that but there is one glaring omission. Something must be done for Obed. We are talking about the first world champion in boxing from The Bahamas. He is a national hero. Unfortunately, he’s no longer with us, but there is still something that we could do for him – something for his family, friends and for the nation to see that we love what he did for the country and we appreciate him.”
Miller, who serves on the technical committee for the 2023 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, said he has had an opportunity to visit many countries in the region and they all recognize and honor their sports and cultural heroes. He listed names such as Hasely Crawford and Claude Noel, of Trinidad and Tobago; Herb McKenley and Usain Bolt, of Jamaica; Kirani James, of Grenada; and Kim Collins, of St. Kitts and Nevis, as some of the regional heroes who have received special recognition and were honored.
“When you look at what the other countries in the region are doing, they hold nothing back when it comes to honoring their sports heroes. These guys have schools, streets and highways, MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) honors and other honors and, in some cases, an opportunity to be knighted from the British Empire. All we are saying is that Obed deserves something. We would have wanted him to be alive, so that he could have received his flowers while he was able to smell them, but it’s not too late to show our love and appreciation for him, and with this being the 50th year of independence, this is the time to do it.”
The late Everette ‘Elisha Obed’ Ferguson passed away on June 28, 2018, after a long illness. He was 66. By the early 1908s, he was past his prime, and ended up losing 11 of his final 16 fights. His last recorded bout was against James ‘Killer’ Coakley on March 6, 1988 – a bout he won on points.