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V.I. Amateur Boxing Group Helping to Revive the Sport in Region

Years ago, the Caribbean Boxing Championships were the primary showcase for the region’s up-and-coming amateurs, but over time the event has been whittled down to four competing nations. The V.I.’s Amateur Boxing Federation has been tapped to help bring it back to its former glory.

V.I. Amateur Boxing Federation president Jose “Tony” Rosario recently flew to Barbados for a meeting with his counterparts from across the Caribbean to revive the Caribbean Amateur Boxing Association, the defunct regional governing body.

“Years ago, each island would take turns holding these Caribbean boxing games,” Rosario said before leaving for the meeting Friday. “It showcased kids all the way up to adults, and everyone looked forward to it. As a territory, we always competed. John (Jackson) was a three or four time champion, so was Julius (Jackson) and when it stopped, we were the reigning champs. But then the recession came, and governments couldn’t afford to host it anymore.”

Guyana hosted this year’s event in February, putting their own athletes up against fighters from Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia and Jamaica. With the 2015 championships still in the planning stages, the ongoing meeting in Barbados will look at how to develop the tournament and figure out a “formula” for success, Rosario said.

“The buzz has been about what we have been able to do in our gym,” Rosario said. “When we leave the island, everyone thinks we have it together. They see how well our guys are performing in international competitions and they want to figure out our formula. But it is a lot of hard work. We fundraise, we have a lot of support from our community and we basically do our own thing. We stress consistency and that is the message I hope to bring to the other Caribbean delegates.”

One thing for sure, Rosario added, is that it’s critical for the championships to be restored to their former glory.

“We hosted one in St. Thomas about 10 years ago, and 18 countries came to that tournament,” he said. “It was amazing exposure for our territory and for our guys. If we are serious about keeping amateur boxing alive, then we have to keep working together to make it happen.”

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