Boxers Excel, Manager Pushes For Support

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Manager of the Antigua & Barbuda men’s boxing team, Khalid Shabazz has called for both the sport’s governing body and the Ministry of Sports to be more supportive of boxers who represent the twin-island state abroad.
Shabazz’s plea follows an outstanding performance by team Antigua & Barbuda at the 2017 OECS Boxing Tournament held in St Lucia over the weekend.
Antigua & Barbuda finished third from a field of seven countries by securing five gold medals and six silver medals.
According to Shabazz, however, the boxers had to pay their own way throughout the tournament, even after a promise from government that funds would have been forwarded to the team in St Lucia.
“We’ve had little or no support from the boxing association. We’ve had some verbal support from the Ministry of Sports but we had to pay for our own tickets, we had to pay for our own accommodations amidst a promise from the Ministry of Sports that they would take care of it,” he said.
“As a matter of a fact, we are looking forward to getting the money that was promised to us by the Ministry of Sports in terms of reimbursing us, because they said they would send the money down. Luckily, we had money to deal with it or else we would have been embarrassed, and I am talking about Antigua would have been embarrassed,” he added. 
Shabazz hopes that his plea will also encourage the national association to “do more” for the sport as it has been dormant for more than 10 years.
“They haven’t done anything in the last 10 or more years in relation to boxing in Antigua. They haven’t provided any help, any scholarships, any facility, any equipment or anything at all to support boxing or to facilitate boxing in Antigua & Barbuda, and that’s my main issue,” the manager said.
However, despite the lack of support, the athletes delivered for their country with splendid performances from Jeremiah Toussaint who boxed his way to two gold medals in the 15-16 age category; Uriah Desilver with a gold in the 17-18 age category; and Justin Sarianofranco with one gold and one silver in the 15-16 category.
Yakita Aska was also in good form, picking up gold in the senior division with Franklin Spencer clinching silver in the 15-16 age category.
Lance Robinson and Senthikumar Muralimohan each had silver boxing in the novices division.
The tournament, Shabazz said, was of a highly competitive nature.
“One of the featured matches was with a [boxer] from St Lucia who is number five in the world and he had a featured match where he came up against a [boxer] from Barbados, and that was one of the featured matches including one of our own matches with Yakita Aska who actually had one of the last
featured matches in the heavyweight section,” the manager said.
The 10-member team, comprising members from both the Uprising Boxing Gym and the Cobra Boxing Gym represented Antigua & Barbuda at the OECS tournament.
 The team was coached by Anthony Severin.

A number of boxers from Antigua & Barbuda celebrate after winning medals and trophies at the 2017 OECS Boxing Tournament held in St Lucia over the weekend. (Photo courtesy Khalid Shabazz)

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