Pound for pound, Conrad Fredericks is arguably one of the best boxing coaches still active in Saint Lucia today. Since becoming National Head Boxing Coach nearly 12 years ago, he’s been on a relentless mission to see boxing improve and get more people involved in the sport. Each new day brings him a fresh bout of challenges, but Coach Conrad – as he’s affectionately known – still keeps punching.
Fredericks, originally from Guyana, came to Saint Lucia in 2000 and began coaching a year later. But he’s had a long career in the sport that dates back to his childhood days. His boxing career started when he was 14 years old after a few tussles during recess and after school.
“I was always getting into fights at school,” Fredericks admitted. “Eventually, a boxer took me to Save the Children Boxing Gym, one of the best boxing gyms in Guyana. I kept improving in the sport while there, winning many titles, including Intermediate, Champion of Champions, Guyana Games and National Open Champion.”
Fredericks has had an impressive career in the squared circle as a pro fighter between 1985 and 1993: 25 fights (18 wins, 6 losses, 1 draw). Back then, he fought under his original name, Conrad Hunte, and was among the best boxers in Guyana in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, his knowledge of the game seems priceless.
“I love this sport with a passion,” said Fredericks, 58, of Pavee, Castries. “In fact, I love it so much that for 15 years, I coached boxers in Saint Lucia without being paid a salary. At the time, I had no other source of income, except $100 monthly from the boxing association. But that $100 was like a million dollars to me, until I stopped receiving it.”
Fredericks still recalls the hard times he faced many nights in the past when he was about to leave the gym to head home. Quite often, his boxers would put some money together for him to get something to eat and pay for transportation. It’s one of the reasons why he says he still keeps in touch with the boxers he trained back then.
“I still continue to show them that respect because they were the ones fighting for me when I was down,” he stated. “Today, if any of my boxers comes to the gym and faces the same situation, I don’t hesitate to assist them.”
For nearly six years now, Fredericks has been employed with the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The job came through adversity, determination and luck.
“Shakes, the boxing association president, who usually supports me, was not on island at the time, and I was having a tough time financially,” Fredericks recalled. “I had no one else to turn to; however, I remembered someone telling me previously that I should contact Anthony George, who was the Permanent Secretary for Youth and Sports at the time.”
Fredericks added: “Mr. George gave me some cash, and I told him I needed permanent employment. He took my name down, but, soon afterwards, he was transferred. However, due to his previous recommendation, I signed a contract with the Ministry of Youth and Sports some months later. So I’m thankful to him and the Ministry for that.”
Fredericks has completed various coaching courses and now passes on what he know to boxers and other coaches. He also coaches students at various schools around the island, the Boys’ Training Centre, and the Vigie Boxing Gym.
He has attended three Commonwealth Games, three CAC Games, and three Pan Am Games, and other qualifiers, and travelled all across the globe, including to Germany, Australia, India, United Kingdom, and Guadeloupe.
Fredericks has coached some of the best boxers Saint Lucia has produced, including Arthur Langelier, Marvin Anthony, Ryan Charles, Nathan Ferrari, Dalton George, and Kyghan “Hitman” Mortley.
“Whatever I do, I put my heart and interest into it. I don’t do anything because of the money factor. If money was the motivation for me being a coach, I would have quit many years ago,” said Fredericks.
For Fredericks, the best moments at the gym are when his boxers show up to train. He says he maintains a respectful relationship with his boxers, with whom he shares a few jokes now and then. But when it comes to the boxing programme, he says, “they know I don’t play.”
With his hands, passion and time literally committed to seeing boxing elevate to new heights, Fredericks seems confident that the gains being made by the St. Lucia Boxing Association (SLBA) will continue to reap priceless rewards. With a tagline that says “Creating Champions and Better Citizens”, he expects no less.
With the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, and the Caribbean Games in Guadeloupe both scheduled for mid-2022, Fredericks hopes to field the best boxers on the national teams representing Saint Lucia. He also needs more hands on deck to make it possible.
“I really need other coaches to come on board and assist with the boxing programmes,” Fredericks emphasized. “I want to share this space. I also welcome anyone who wants to take up the sport to join our gym. Boxing is a great sport because it also teaches you key lessons in life.”