President of the St. Lucia Boxing Association (SLBA), David “Shakes” Christopher, says the SLBA aims to build on and surpass its many achievements of the last five years.
“With the new Executive Committee for the SLBA set to take up its duties, my hope is that they can maintain – or even surpass – the current high wave of momentum,” Christopher said. “We certainly need all hands on deck as we straighten out our decentralization plan and bring boxing back to its best days.”
He added: “Our last five-year plan spoke to bringing boxing to Bordelais Correctional Facility and Boys’ Training Centre, and also decentralizing the sport. I’m happy to report that these goals have all been achieved. Right now, it’s just a matter of strengthening our female aspect of our boxing programme. We have some promising female boxers at the moment, including Marissa St. Catherine.”
Christopher’s comments preceded the elections of a new SLBA executive committee held on December 20, 2021, in the Jonathan H. Everett Conference Room at Saint Lucia Olympic Committee House in La Clery, Castries.
The members of the new SLBA executive are as follows:
· President: David “Shakes” Christopher
· First Vice-President: Robert Joseph
· Second Vice-President: Irwin Jean
· Secretary: Bertha Desir
· Treasurer: Lucy Goodman
· Public Relations Officer: Stanislaus Bishop
· Third Vice-President: Earl Agdomar
· Organizing Secretary: Odulia Justin
· Training of Officials and Coaches: Carlotta Julie Bonnet
Christopher said the best of those five years was 2017, when the SLBA won Association of the Year, Best Coach, and Administrator of the Year at the National Sports Awards. The SLBA also hosted three tournaments that year — OECS Boxing Championships, Creole Boxing Championships, and Caribbean Boxing Championships — held in March, July and December, and attracting boxers from throughout the Caribbean and French Guiana. Saint Lucia was the only country to host three tournaments in that year, a feat that was acknowledged by the International Boxing Association (IBA) and the American Boxing Confederation (AMBC).
That same year, a group of youngsters from the Boys’ Training Centre (BTC) in Massade, Gros Islet, competed and medalled in a tournament held at the Indoor Facility at Daren Sammy Cricket Ground. This was a huge plus for the SLBA, which had started a boxing programme at the BTC to get them to represent their country at such major championships.
Following the demolishing of the Vigie Boxing Gym in 2016, the SLBA spent the next three years rebuilding it. But, in 2020, the gym is fully equipped, making it one of the best boxing gyms in the Caribbean.
Last September, the SLBA received boxing equipment from IBA through Green Hill, and, in November, received more boxing equipment from Green Hill, who have been impressed with the progress the SLBA has been making in the sport.
Last year, the SLBA embarked on its decentralization drive to bring the sport to more communities across Saint Lucia, which attracted people’s interest and participation in the sport. During the past few months, the SLBA collaborated with Rise (St. Lucia) Inc. to visit the Bordelais Correctional Facility (BCF) and forge relationships. This was a major achievement for the SLBA, which, for many years, has tried to build a relationship with BCF to introduce boxing to the inmates.
The SLBA has since donated boxing equipment to the Bordelais Correctional Facility, Boys’ Training Centre, and gyms in Vieux Fort, Soufriere and Choiseul. All of these boxing programmes are set to begin as soon as the pandemic eases.
The SLBA also has a boxing programme at the Leon Hess Comprehensive Secondary School, where many young girls are interested. We’re hoping this programme will continue to bear fruit and that we can see more young women taking up the sport.
Recently, the SLBA formed a “Commonwealth Games 2022 Elite Crew”, selecting six boxers for a special training programme that will run until the Games are held in Birmingham, England, from July to August this year. Ahead of the Games, the SLBA will try to get bouts for these boxers to give them much-needed experience and exposure.
“We have also sent a proposal to IBA for the Youth Development Incentive Programme,” Christopher said. “We’re hoping that IBA can provide the level of support we’re seeking so that we can get that programme on-stream.”
During the elections, Christopher announced that veteran cricket commentator and former SLBA President, Joseph “Reds” Perreira, will be made a Patron of the SLBA.
Meanwhile, Umar Kremlev, President of IBA, has sent a congratulatory message to Christopher on his re-election as SLBA President. Kremlev says he remains optimistic about the future of local boxing under Christopher’s stewardship, adding that he looks forward to meeting Christopher in person at the next IBA event.