Hill proves a big hit with youngsters
Clarence Hill returned to his old stamping ground at the Hamilton Community Centre yesterday to deliver a moving speech to primary school students.
During the 30-minute lecture and question-and-answer session the Olympic bronze medal-winner and Bermuda Sports Hall of Fame boxer revealed how he “ran away” from home aged 11 and took refuge at a Young Men's Christian Association in New Jersey, where he was introduced to boxing.
He also took delight in reliving his development years at what was then known as the Pembroke Youth Centre before winning bronze at the 1976 Games in Montreal and turning professional.
“There is a lot of history here and this place brings back a lot of memories,” Hill said. “I can see Sammy Wilson [the former PYC director] telling me to go home because it's getting late, and Troy Darrell and Quinn Paynter running around and being a nuisance.
“I came back to Bermuda in 1971 and that's when I started training daily here at PYC. It was my training gym and I also played badminton, pool and basketball right here.
“I became the boxing champion here in Bermuda in 1972 boxing at BAA and travelled to different countries to box for Bermuda and winning to a point where I got the opportunity to go to the Olympics. I went to the Olympics in 1976 and then I turned professional.
“The first fight [as a professional] was in Bermuda and I won. It was my first time boxing in Bermuda at BAA and all of PYC attended. To win that fight was a great experience for me.
“When I was fighting in Bermuda all of PYC used to come out to BAA every time I fought and they would be stomping their feet on the floor and shouting ‘PYC, PYC' to encourage me.”
Hill, who retired in 1985 with an 18-3-1 record, also urged the students to avoid “travelling the wrong road” that ultimately led him to prison.
“My life as an athlete wasn't always a good life because I had a little flaw where I started to travel the wrong road and I am saying this so you all can understand,” he said.
“I used to do things that was wrong for a long period of time in my life and it caused me a lot of aggravation. I allowed my friends to show me different things I shouldn't do and if it's wrong and you know it's wrong don't do it.
“We are human and people have to understand that even though we are athletes we make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes but it's important to get back up.”
Hill also urged the students not to resort to violence.
“I have experienced violence and it doesn't pay because you can get hurt,” he said. “Violence doesn't work and it's always good to have love in your heart and be nice to everyone.
“You have to listen to and pay attention to what your parents tell you because they love you and are not going to steer you wrong.
“That's what they are here for; to help and motivate you.”
Hill was invited to speak to the students by Renee James, co-ordinator of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Recreation's Mid-Term Programme, and Charlie Marshall, the Hamilton Community Centre manager and former Bermuda and Cup Match cricketer.