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When Chanz met Clarence

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When a young mind is inspired it is more than hopeful, it is great — Lisa Baksh

Aspiring boxer Chanz Smith met his hero last week in the culmination of a Black History Month Celebration project assigned by his teachers at Purvis Primary School.

The seven-year-old P2 student was not only quick to select the 1976 Olympic bronze medal-winner as his topic but went a step farther in “becoming Clarence Hill”, to suggest there may be a future in drama for the youngster once he is done with his boxing career.

When Chanz met Clarence: Purvis Primary School student Chanz Smith, 7, got to meet his hero, Clarence Hill, last week after the 1976 Olympic boxing bronze medal-winner was the subject of his school project celebrating Black History Month (Photograph by Lisa Baksh)

On seeing a recording of Chanz’s presentation, during which he wore to school his robe and boxing gloves, and adorned a replica bronze medal, his godmother arranged for him to meet his hero through her church connections.

So the match was set.

Chanz Smith with his hero, Clarence Hill (Photograph by Lisa Baksh)

The date was Friday, February 25, 2022. The venue was the steps of City Hall. The mood electric. Past champion staring down young up-and-comer. The crowd respectful of the older man but full of hope for the aspirant. Who would blink first?

Chanz Smith with his hero, Clarence Hill (Photograph by Lisa Baksh)

After the preliminaries, the pair got down to the business of sparring, but only in the form of a searching Q&A, with the younger man landing the opening blows:

Chanz: How did you feel to win a medal in the Olympics?

Clarence: It feels great. It feels like I have accomplished something as a sportsperson.

Chanz: How did you feel when you were boxing?

Clarence: I felt good because I enjoy boxing.

Chanz: What do you do to train?

Clarence: I get up early in the morning. I go for a run. I go back home and then go to the gym. When I go to the gym, I smile, I do sit-ups then I go in the ring and box.

Chanz Smith with his hero, Clarence Hill (Photograph by Lisa Baksh)

Chanz: What would you like to tell Bermuda?

Chanz Smith with his hero, Clarence Hill (Photograph by Lisa Baksh)

Clarence: Even though you are from a small country, that doesn’t mean you can’t dream big and win your dreams. If you dream big, it gives you an opportunity to do what you said you set out to do. What you need to do when you dream big is give yourself a chance and an opportunity to do what you set out to do.

The master and his apprentice (Photograph courtesy of Lisa Baksh)

In the end, it was honours even.

Everyone went away with smiles as wide as the Atlantic Ocean. The younger man looking forward to carrying on the legacy of a man who was once shamefully shunned and forgotten, and the wily veteran basking in the very belated glow that what he achieved in Montreal 46 years ago means something to modern Bermuda.

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Published March 03, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated March 03, 2022 at 3:15 pm)

When Chanz met Clarence

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