Two young Saint Lucian boxers picked up medals on their debut at the 5th Annual Winfield Braithwaite Caribbean Schoolboys & Junior Boxing Tournament held in Georgetown, Guyana, from August 26-28, 2022.
Fifteen-year-old middleweight boxer Kevert Similien picked up gold while fourteen-year-old lightweight boxer Herve Charlemagne picked up silver.
The tournament was held at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall and featured boxers from Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, The Bahamas, and Saint Lucia. Host country Guyana was the best team overall and retained the Winfield Braithwaite trophy, picking up seven gold medals, two silver medals and a bronze medal at the three-night event.
Over the years that the tournament has been held, young Saint Lucian boxers have consistently medaled at the regional tournament, which has been used as a platform for them to hone their pugilistic skills.
Similien, who also fought one fight and made it to the final, admitted he was a bit nervous before the fight. However, his confidence kicked in, resulting in his opponent being given two standing 8-counts in the first round.
“My opponent was taller, bigger and more muscular than me,” he said. “But I know for my age and size, I pack a lot of power, so I started jabbing at first. The first jab I caught him with, I noticed instantly that he was scared. I came to the ring to just brawl because I somehow knew my opponent wasn’t ready for me.”
Similien, who attends St. Mary’s College, started boxing in April this year. When he was younger, he always wanted to box. He said boxers like Canelo Alvarez, Floyd Mayweather, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson gave him the inspiration to box.
“At the time, I never knew there was a boxing gym in Saint Lucia. So when I found out there was one, I took the opportunity to join. So far, it’s been a great experience. There are many painful days, obviously. I get to work on my cardio and get stronger,” Similien explained.
Charlemagne, who also fought one bout and made it to the final, said: “It was a nice experience, especially for my first time in a competition. I saw many impressive boxers and performances. The experience inspired me to train harder and do more.”
Charlemagne, who also attends St. Mary’s College, took up boxing last November after being encouraged by his friends.
Both boxers thanked their families and relatives, fellow students and boxers and Coaches Conrad Fredericks and Hilary Dalson for encouraging them to pursue their career goals. They also hope to perform admirably in upcoming tournaments.
President of the St. Lucia Boxing Association (SLBA), David “Shakes” Christopher, congratulated the two boxers for making impressive debuts at the regional tournament on a highly competitive note.
“We really appreciate and are excited about the performance of these two young boxers, especially since they were competing for the first time,” Christopher said this week. “It’s a good investment for us and we will continue to invest in our young boxers because that’s where the champions are really found. Many kudos to the two boxers and their coach. We hope that they will continue to hone their craft and shape their boxing career.”
He added: “We really want to thank our sponsors who came on board to support us with this venture. Right now, we’re looking forward to the Caribbean Boxing Championships slated for December in Dominica where we will again be featuring many of our young boxers.”
Meanwhile, National Head Boxing Coach, Conrad Fredericks, who accompanied the two boxers to the Guyana tournament, said: “These two boxers are very disciplined, and the results proved that. They’ve done well and deserve their gold and silver medals because they worked very hard.”
With the Caribbean Boxing Championships slated to be held in December in Dominica, Fredericks said more victories and exposure are in the pipeline for the boxing gyms growing number of boxers.
“We’re hoping to take a team of male and female boxers to that competition,” Fredericks said. “Hopefully, we’ll get the right funding to make that happen. The boxing gym is stepping up and we need all the support we can get.”
The SLBA again thanks everyone who made it possible for our boxers to compete at this year’s tournament, especially given the hike in airfares. Therefore, we thank Leslie Clarke from Domino’s Pizza, Dr. Stephen King, Baron Foods Ltd., 1st National Bank, Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, National Lotteries Authority. Special thanks also to Joseph “Reds” Perreira, former SLBA President, for his efforts towards making the tournament a success.
The tournament is named after Winfield Braithwaite, a retired Guyanese lightweight welterweight boxer, who represented Guyana at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada, where he won a gold medal in the final via a knockout in the first round over James Douglas of Scotland.