June 20, 2005 — An international contingent of boxers are testing each other's mettle in the 21st Caribbean Amateur Boxing Championships. The tourney, which is being held at the Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School gymnasium, concludes this Wednesday night.
Bouts begin Tuesday and Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
Opening day ceremonies were held over the weekend, in part to honor two world-famous V.I. boxers, Julian Jackson and Emille Griffith.
Organizers opened the tournament on Saturday with a flourish, welcoming teams of boxers from several Caribbean nations, including Jamaica, Dominica, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, St. Lucia, Barbados, Guyana, Guadaloupe, Aruba, St. Maartin, Bermuda and Cayanne.
The fisticuffs began shortly thereafter, testing the 21-member host team from the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Former middleweight champion Julian Jackson helped to bring the regional amateur contest to St. Thomas.
"My boys are in the best shape they've every been in, and it's my will to take them to that level where they would compete with these other teams who have been competing in the international world," he said.
According to Jackson, the lone female competitor on the V.I. team did not qualify for this year's event because she did not yet meet the minimum age requirement of 17 years.
He thanked the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation and Jose Rosario, president of the V.I. Boxing Federation, for helping to arrange the five-day event in St. Thomas.
Rosario addressed the crowd of spectators, athletes and public officials who came to the weekend start of competition.
"Today, history is made. Today history is fulfilled. For the first time in the history of the championships, the Caribbean family has assembled here in the Virgin Islands to compete," he said.
A special tribute was paid to the visiting team from Grenada, whose home island suffered heavy damage with the passage of Hurricane Ivan last year. Rosario held up a box and invited everyone who came to the tournament to make a cash contribution to help the Grenada team rebuild their boxing gym, which he said was also lost to the storm.
"Make sure you put something in the box every night so that when the team from Grenada returns home they can rebuild their gym," Rosario said.
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