Hope: NOC and boxing association should do more

Antigua and Barbuda’s Yakita Aska (left) avoids a punch from an opponent during a past Commonwealth Games. Former boxer Morris Hope has called for financial support for Aska.
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By Neto Baptiste

Former international boxer and world Jr Middleweight boxing champion, Maurice Hope,has called on both the National Olympic Committee (NOC) and the local boxing association to do more for the country’s young and aspiring fighters.

Hope made the plea while speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show on Monday as he called on head of the NOC, EP Chet Greene, to fulfill promises made regarding national boxer Yakita Aska whom he believes should be receiving more assistance from both entities.

“We have a lot of talent down there and they [NOC and boxing association] are treating him [Yakita Aska] really rough. They think he is finished but he really isn’t and I would be glad if they could look after him because over the years he has really worked hard and he is sponsoring his own self. He has been to England so many times and he has taken his own money, left his family and everything and sometimes we would get reimbursements but most of the times we don’t,” he said.

“They are not doing enough in terms of the Olympic association. Chet Greene is my friend and I have known him for a long time, but they are treating me really bad and I don’t know why but I would really like them to look after Yakita. The Olympics is coming up and there is definitely a chance of him getting a medal there,” he added.

Hope, who captured the prestigious world boxing title in March 1979 with a ninth round knockout of then world champion Rocky Mattioli, also pointed to the boxing association as needing to step up to the plate, adding that the body needs a lot of help in getting a suitable programme started.

“We need a lot of help and we need a lot of sponsors, we need some gymnasiums and we need a lot of gears and stuff. The boys need and the boys need proper training and not only that, they need to come out of Antigua and get the international and regional [exposure]. They need a lot of fights and of course we need proper coaches. I know the ones down there [Antigua] doing their best but we need a lot of help down there,” the former boxer said. 

As for the association’s lack of enthusiasm regarding the introduction of a proper structure and a national programme, Hope said that based on recent discussions, things should improve in the near future.

“Actually, we were just waiting on the coronavirus to pass, if such a thing happens, and then we will go and do all those things like an election, meeting with and seeing the gyms and if we could get sponsors and work together,” he said.

Hope successfully defended the WBC’s world title on 25 September that same year by knocking out Mike Baker in the seventh round in London. He had a record of 30 wins, 4 losses and 1 draw in 35 bouts, with 24 wins by knockout.

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