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Let’s give boxing a fighting chance

Bermuda's always been able to produce good boxers, trouble is we've never produced enough boxing rings.

The fight game might be one of the most popular sports on the Island or at least could be if facilities were provided.

Yet it's something that Government tend to forget when they draw up their annual sports budget.

Teresa Perozzi's world championship fight against April Ward at Berkeley Institute last Saturday night, a contest which she won comfortably, attracted a raucous sell-crowd.

That shouldn't have come as a surprise. The same happens whenever Teachers Rugby Club or Police put on a fight night. If you don't get tickets early, you don't get any at all.

In the 1970s boxing attracted a larger attendance than any other sport on the Island bar football (in those days games regularly brought in between two and three thousand fans, a far cry from what we see today).

On a Saturday night at BAA gymnasium, the chant of 'P-Y-C, P-Y-C' rang loud and clear whenever one of Pembroke Youth Club's fighters climbed into the ring. It got even louder when their home town hero Clarence Hill made an appearance.

Hill took on some of America's top amateurs and was usually the one left standing.

The same Clarence Hill went on to collect a bronze medal at the Montreal Olympics in 1976 the only Olympic medal Bermuda has ever won.

We've come close, particularly in sailing, but Hill remains the only athlete who's savoured the pride and excitement of standing on the podium with the Bermuda flag flying behind him.

Hill eventually turned professional and in a US network televised bout he took on world heavyweight contender Tony Tubbs who he dumped on the canvas before eventually losing.

Yet his achievements might have been superseded by Troy Darrell, who also honed his skills with PYC and regularly appeared on the BAA card and, after turning pro, progressed under the tuition of Angelo Dundee, the former Muhammad Ali trainer.

Darrell also appeared on US television in a middleweight championship fight which many thought he won easily on points. The US judges thought otherwise.

The headline in the following day's Royal Gazette read 'We wuz robbed'. It might have been the largest headline that has ever appeared in this newspaper and then editor David White was not at all pleased with either myself or assistant Chris Young when he looked at the sports pages the following morning.

But we'd decided such an injustice was warranted which, in retrospect, might have been 'over the top' coverage.

However, the fight became a talking point in Bermuda for days after such was the interest in boxing.

Besides Hill and Darrell, Quinn Paynter and Gary Hope became favourites with the fight fans.

There's those who still believe it's a barbaric sport which only glamorises violence.

But there's a lot more who believe it's exactly the opposite.

It instils discipline. Youngsters can vent their frustration and aggression in a controlled manner in the gym and ring rather than out on the street.

Those who have ever stepped into the ring, even for a three-round contest, will verify the physical demands of the sport.

If you haven't trained properly, the arms and legs feel like jelly.

There was plenty of evidence of that during the black-tie, men-only shows that became so popular at the Police Club in the '70s and '80s.

The event had to be moved to the Southampton Princess where coppers tried to beat the living daylights out of each other, many of whom had to be helped out of the ring still not sure whether they'd won or lost.

A couple of hours later they were none the worse.

All sports can, at some time or another, be dangerous and boxing's no different. The hits inflicted on opponents at a rugby match, NFL game, even football game can cause far more serious injuries than those inflicted by leather gloves.

Perozzi's win last week will have taken a small step to help revive the sport in Bermuda.

Its popularity is unquestioned. We just need more facilities.

Admiralty House in Pembroke had been suggested a few years ago as a possible venue but nothing came of the idea.

Government may want to examine other possible venues. Given the turn-out at Berkeley last weekend, it would be worth the effort.

* * * *

NO comment on the cricket this week.

The results from Dubai say it all.


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Published March 16, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 16, 2012 at 9:31 am)

Let’s give boxing a fighting chance

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