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Lambe and Christopher bound for Barranquilla

Ready to go: Andre Lambe (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Andre Lambe and Tyler Christopher are set for their first international competition after qualifying for the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, this summer.

They will become the first Bermudians to compete at the quadrennial event since Nikki Bascome fought at the 2010 Games in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.

Lambe and Christopher, who were both trained by Allan “Forty” Rego — who died aged 86 last month — lost in the quarter-finals at the CAC Games qualifiers in Tijuana, Mexico, this month. Nathan Dill, the Bermuda Boxing Federation president, said the pair’s success only served to “strengthen the legacy” of Rego, who also coached Bascome as an amateur and professional.

“This marks a major accomplishment for our athletes, who have had to overcome recent personal hardship to reach this point, with the loss of their mentor and coach.,” Dill said.

Dill, who was voted in as the BBF president in 2015, said Lambe’s and Christopher’s qualification was the culmination of years of hard work by the BBF.

“I’m thankful to my entire team for the sacrifices that they have made, especially our secretary and acting team manager Chaquita Simmons and programme manager Melissa Looby, who have been the left and right hand for the body,” Dill said.

“We’re not naive when it comes to the work it will take to succeed at these championships. Our national coaches [Kevin Simmons and Jermal Woolridge] have already begun to formulate the steps necessary to grow and be successful.”

Dill said the qualifiers were an “eye-opener” for Lambe and Christopher and a reminder of the hotbed of boxing talent in the region.

“It will take the continued support of the entire island and restructuring of our national boxing programme, but now is the time for Bermuda to firmly place itself at the top of this field,” Dill added.

“We have proven that our national team has the training, technical ability and drive to reach the next levels of competition.”

The CAC Games, along with next year’s Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, are one of two remaining opportunities to reach the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Lambe and Christopher are hoping to emulate Olympians Clarence Hill, who won bronze at the 1976 Montreal Games, Roy Johnson, Robert Burgess and Quinn Paynter by reaching Tokyo.

Just days before the qualifiers it was doubtful whether they would make the trip after the International Olympic Committee suspended all funding for the crisis-hit International Boxing Association. It meant the Bermuda Olympic Association had no choice but to pull funding from the BBF, who were assisted in covering the costs of the team’s travel by Teachers Rugby Football Club, The Dog House and Arnold’s Market.

“I’m even more resolute in declaring that boxing can be used as a catalyst for growth and positive change among all walks of young people, as we are witnessing this each and every day in the local boxing gyms,” Dill said. “I remain firm in the statement that Bermuda’s best bet for medalling in the Olympics is through boxing and we look forward to achieving further successes through this programme.”

For more information about the BBF youth programmes, e-mail bermudaboxingfed@gmail.com