Boxing hopefuls start Olympic journey
Bermuda’s Olympic Games hopefuls will showcase their talents on the same amateur boxing card for the first time at CedarBridge Academy next month.
The “Next Greatest” event features Andre Lambe, Tyler Christopher and Stefan Dill, as they warm up for their Central American and Caribbean Games qualifiers in Tijuana, Mexico, in March.
They hope to emulate Olympians Clarence Hill, Roy Johnson, Robert Burgess and Quinn Paynter by reaching the Tokyo Games in 2020. The trio have two opportunities to qualify, at the CAC Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, this summer, and the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, next year.
Lambe’s welterweight bout against Daniel Roach, of Canada, headlines the show, while Christopher faces another Canadian, Steve Wilshire, in a middleweight contest. Heavyweight Dill, the most experienced member of Team Bermuda, having previously fought in regional competitions, takes on compatriot Dunjai Lambe, of Controversy Gym.
Nathan Dill, the Bermuda Boxing Federation president, believes the Next Generation card, organised in conjunction with Heart of a Lion Productions, will provide a “perfect testing ground” for the three fighters as they prepare for Tijuana.
“Daniel Roach will be a serious challenge for Andre,” Dill said. “He’s an elite-class amateur, like Andre, but he does have more fights , which is typically the case with the overseas fighters.
“I’m confident in Andre’s ability, but for this fight, at least on paper, he will be the underdog.”
Lambe, who has eight wins from 11 bouts, has been busy adjusting his style from professional to amateur, having predominantly trained and sparred with Bermudian pro Nikki Bascome — the last local boxer to compete at the CAC Games in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, in 2010.
The 22-year-old had intended to turn professional within the next two years, but has delayed those plans so he can realise his Olympic ambition.
“The challenge has been adapting to the style of fighting we’re going to need to adopt in Tijuana,” said Dill, who was voted in as the BBF president in August 2015.
“Bermudian boxers are probably more used to a professional style, when you’re looking for that hard hit, whereas in the amateurs it’s fast-paced, high punch count, and all about getting points.
“I know Andre has been watching [amateur boxing] videos and doesn’t think he will have a problem adapting. He already has the technical skills.”
Since establishing Team Bermuda, Dill believes there has been an erosion of the tribalism between the rival gyms, with the island’s coaches beginning to share their knowledge in pursuit of a common goal.
He added that national team coaches Kevin Simmons and Jermal Woolridge had been working closely with Charles Wade, of Police Gym, and Varo Pelon Andre, who trains Lambe and Christopher at Forty Rego’s Gym.
“We’ve told [the fighters] that, ‘You’re no longer representing your gym, you’re representing Bermuda’,” Dill said.
“We’re beginning to see them mesh and mould as a team and they’ve been training together every other Saturday at Aries Sports Centre [in the Washington Mall]. The gyms are now independently supporting each other, as they realise they need each other to help step up everybody’s game. One day they go to Rego’s, one day they go to Police, and that’s happening independently of anything the BBF has organised.”
Also in action on the Next Generation card on February 17, will be Michael Parsons, a former Boulevard and Bermuda footballer. The 38-year-old, who has returned to the island from England, will meet Canadian welterweight Alex Navarro.
“Mikey has been in England for eight years, where he made the transition from football to boxing, and has a decent amateur record,” Dill added. “He’s been very helpful in our preparations [for Tijuana] and has been sparring with the national team members.”
Two domestic heavyweight bouts, featuring Controversy Gym fighters, will pit Shane Basden against George Cook, and Justin Tucker against Kevin Masters.
Tickets costing $75 for VIP, $50 for general admission and $25 for under-18s are available from Sports R Us or online at ptix.bm
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