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‘All of us who box are not just boxers, we are so much more’

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Sion Symonds (right) will next be seen on stage in musical production of Sarafina (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

While boxing is often tagged as a sport populated by those of lesser brainpower, and a person’s predisposition towards fighting frequently tied to antisocial behaviour, the majority of the young men featured on Epic Entertainment’s Fight Night Champion card on Saturday dispel those notions.

More than potential societal threats, the amateur undercard featured a bevy of multidimensional young men, possessing impressive, real-world talent beyond boxing’s squared-circle in areas of social activism, mentorship, performing arts, entrepreneurship and academia.

Chief among them was the night’s amateur headliner Adrian Roach, who is majoring in kinesiology and expects to graduate next year with a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Crandall University in Canada, where he studies while on a boxing scholarship

At the rate which he often damages body parts while dispatching opponents, Roach may not have to search far for clients in need of rehabilitation. But he more appreciates being able to use the ring as a platform to motivate, uplift and provide hope.

Adrian Roach (left) will soon be graduating from Crandell University (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“I’m in school for physio and at the same time trying to create patients,” said Roach jokingly after his comprehensive defeat of Mexico’s Anthony Hernandez at The Shed in Dockyard.

“But I’m happy to be able to help pave the way for another Bermudian to get a scholarship, whether it be in boxing or in another sport. I just want Bermudians to see that they can do anything they put their minds to.

“I got into the sport late, but I’ve gone far and I hope it serves to inspire; that’s all I want to do. School is going well. I have a year left and hope to continue on the path I’m on, graduate and become a successful Black man.”

Sion Symonds, 22, offered early signs of community awareness and leadership qualities, penning an inspirational poem that advised his generation of Black youth how We Can Be The Change.

“All of us who box are not just boxers,” he said. “We may be good at it, but that’s not just who we are. I wrote that when I was 12 and I like to think of myself as an artist still.

“Art transcends more than one category and I think of myself as more than a poet, more than a boxer, that we are our names and mine is Sion and that’s how I ride. The message I try to keep at the forefront of my mind is that, with everything I do, I have the right to do it and the right to do it well.

“I think that everyone can do what they want to do, as long as they try hard enough.”

Sion Symonds’ poem was published in The Royal Gazette when he was 12

Symonds’s next performance will not be in the ring but on the stage as he takes on the role of Colgate in the upcoming reproduction of Broadway hit musical Sarafina, which follows a group of people involved in the Soweto riots and battling against apartheid in South Africa, which is being put on by Troika Bermuda.

Also involved in the performing arts is Bruce Perinchief, 27, a singer-songwriter, who has performed at Bermuda Beachfest and in many talent competitions since he was 15. He is also among 16 young local artists contained on the recently released EP, Rawyalty Is Earned, a mixtape produced by Kellan Lewis.

Che durham with his kickboxing medals

“As artists and as people we all have many talents,” said Perinchief, who performs under the stage name Suav.

“It’s about having passion for your art and whatever it is in life that you do, whether it be in maths, whether it’s accounting, whether it’s boxing or as a musician.

“Whatever it is you desire in life, you need to chase your dream with passion and go get it.”

Che Durham may have lost to Symonds in the ring, but he is winning at life in a multitude of roles while playing an important role in youth development and social activism.

The 28-year-old, who captured two silver medals at the WKA World Kickboxing and Karate World Championships last November, operates a Cobbs Hill gym with his twin brother, Cole, and is a staff member at a youth-empowerment organisation.

“It’s about building good character and discipline,” said Durham. “I think sport is a good thing in developing this, particularly among young Black men. I believe sports can help instil positive character traits and help them become good citizens.”

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Published February 02, 2023 at 7:42 am (Updated February 03, 2023 at 8:02 am)

‘All of us who box are not just boxers, we are so much more’

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