It has been a difficult year for all sporting disciplines in Guyana, but particularly so for contact sports like boxing, on which the coronavirus pandemic made the biggest impact.
Athletes and administrators were forced to re-examine the way they play, train and plan, and this could be attested to by the local amateur boxing authority, the Guyana Boxing Association (GBA), whose last competition was held in February.
GBA President Steve Ninvalle shared just how much the pugilistic sport was affected this year. “It is the first time that I can remember that we did not have a National Open, a National Novice, nor a National Intermediate competition. So, if you ask me, it has been an extremely challenging year. It has been a revealing year; revealing in the sense that it revealed how deep we can dig as an executive and as an association.”
One thing the GBA boss has been most disappointed about is the Caribbean’s inability to host the first CARIFTA Boxing Tournament in a matter of decades.
“We (had) planned to have the CARIFTA Boxing Tournament for the first time; that had to be shelved. That would’ve been for the first (time) in maybe two decades or more there would’ve been a CARIFTA Boxing Tournament.”
Ninvalle has, however, reflected on some of the positives for boxing in 2020.
“Two things stand out for me, being pleasing in the year; one is that our boxers would’ve been able to complete their three-month training course in Cuba. Even though they did not get a chance to participate at the Olympic Qualifiers, I think that what they have learnt in Cuba will be something that will take them through their entire lives,” the GBA Boss said.
“Another big plus for me in boxing is the election of Umar Kremlev as the President of the International Boxing Association (AIBA). I think Mr Kremlev has all that it takes to bring boxing back on its right footing. He’s young, he’s visionary, he has all the right tools to get boxing back, and I think he will make sure that our relationship with the IOC is back to some normalcy.”
The return of boxing currently sees pugilists training in gyms, with sparring listed as prohibited. Ninvalle is not worried about the dismal turnout of boxers just yet, because it is the Christmas season.
“Boxers are slowly returning to the gyms, and it’s a difficult period for us to try to estimate and understand what is going on, because of the fact that during the course of December, you know, boxing is usually at a lull because of the Christmas activities. So, we would expect that in January things really start picking up, and we’ll take it from there,” he posited. (Jemima Holmes)