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From time to time, on talk shows I hear (and also get approached by) Bahamians who question the appreciation factor of The Bahamas and its people for Everette “Elisha Obed” Ferguson.
The only Bahamian authentic “world” boxing champion is not doing too well. He has been deteriorating for some seven years now. There are those who are saying he has not been treated well in this country.
That’s a ridiculous allegation. It’s time the record was set straight on one of the greatest sports icons ever produced by this country.
Obed, during the Sir Lynden Pindling administration around 1976, was a designated item on the House of Assembly agenda as a national hero. I don’t recall any other Bahamian getting that specific honor. The nation acknowledged him as its hero.
That’s a high national honor! Some, who think of knighthoods with disdain, would consider it the ultimate salute to a Bahamian hero. He was an early inductee into the National Hall of Fame. He is in the Florida Hall of Fame. As late as 2009, special tribute was paid to Obed regionally.
The Pan American Caribbean Boxing Organization (PACBO), of which I have the privilege to be the president, sponsored Obed’s trip to Jamaica, where he was saluted at the inaugural Caribbean Sports Icons Awards affair. In 2009, he still had the ability to take care of himself, mostly. PACBO covered the cost for a brother-in-law to accompany him. It gave me great joy to see our champion interacting with his peers on banquet night at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica.
It was really the last of the many hurrahs he’s had in his life, at a time when he could enjoy it to the fullest.
It’s been a good ride for the man with Acklins roots.
I recall back in 1971 when he returned from his short-term base in New York to box Ray Minus Sr. for the welterweight championship of The Bahamas. Dr. Norman Gay, the architect of the modern professional boxing environment, had arranged for Obed to train in New York under the management of Steve Acunta.
On the Monday after he had defeated Minis Sr. easily by a decision to win the title, I was on East Street North, about to go into the restaurant called Sin, which was owned by George Capron. I heard someone call me. It was Obed. He came up to me and expressed his knowledge of my close connection to the Dundees (Chris and Angelo). He asked that I seek to get him into their camp.
I informed him that there would have to be some negotiations between Acunta and the Dundees, because he was legally bound to the New Yorker. He asked me to make the call nevertheless.
I did. I called Angelo and he indicated a strong interest immediately, but his personal group of fighters was large. He offered to persuade Chris to arrange new management details once (and if) matters with Acunta got cleared up. Chris agreed. There was the negotiation with Acunta and the rest is history.
Obed signed a new contract with Michael Dundee (Chris’ son) as manager. Moe Fleisher was the official trainer and Angelo looked on closely and helped in the mentoring.
I had a conversation with Chris and told him pointedly that, although he was a part of pro boxing’s elite world circle, he had a reputation for not handling fighters who were tied to him properly. I told him that I wanted to know the full details of every purse arrangement made for Obed, otherwise I would be the first to expose him if it became necessary.
This is the first time I’m putting this fact to the public.
As an example, when Obed defeated Sea Robinson, his last title defense of the World Boxing Council junior middleweight title in April of 1976, he came home with his share totaling $114,000. That was a lot of money at the time; it was good take-home funds.
This was the case until Obed parted ways with the Dundees. The Dundees, Moe Fleisher and the whole gang in Miami Beach at the fabled Fifth Street Gym were good to him.
Here at home, he was treated royally with Larry Forsythe, Wilfred Coakley, Chris Malakius and many others always operating in his best interest. Unfortunately, fighters generally feel that they have some time in the ring left, when others around them know better.
Obed had 115 fights, his last in 1988 at the age of 36. He should have retired at least two years earlier, but he didn’t. His story is bittersweet. I reflect often of him in his glorious moments, regal and mighty, capable in his prime of beating anybody put against him.
Then, I think of the physical challenges he faces today at the age of 62.
It’s not the ending we wanted for our champion, but we all did the best we could for him.
Elisha Obed has been well appreciated.
• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected]
In this country, we take a lot for granted. We have been so blessed by our maker that for generations, Bahamians have operated with the mindset that everything will stay the same.
Over the last 10 years or so, our sports fishing industry has suffered. To a great degree, the encroachment in our territorial waters by foreigners has been the cause to a large degree. However, we have not been doing enough, I think scientifically and generally with studies, to come up with the formula for not just stability of the sports fishing industry, but growth of the product.
The study done by Dr. Karen Murchie of The College of The Bahamas (COB) and biologist Justin Lewis and others is a case in point.
Dr. Murchie has informed that a pilot study on bonefish was launched in October 2013, in Grand Bahama and completed in June of 2014.
There are bonefishing lodges throughout the country. Many Bahamians and foreign residents subsist off their bonefishing businesses. So, Dr. Murchie and her ilk are to be applauded for finding out pertinent information about our great tourist attraction, called the bonefish and its habitat.
Dr. Murchie reports: “In June 2014, the (bonefish) pilot study was completed and the findings have been astonishing. Bonefish implanted with transmitters logged more than 26 detections on listening stations that were scattered around the island. What we learned is that some bonefish use the Grand Lucayan Waterway to get from the north side to the south side to spawn. A number of other bonefish tagged on the north side of Grand Bahama made different long distance migrations (50 miles) around either the east end or west end of the island. These results demonstrate that habitats all along the coast of Grand Bahama both north and south sides serve as important movement corridors for adult bonefish during their spawning season. To keep the multi-million dollar bonefish industry healthy for years to come, it is imperative to protect these movement corridors. Because it will also be important to protect spawning bonefish, the next step is to expand the study this fall to determine the location of spawning sites.”
This is an amazing bit of information. I think immediately of Andros with its many creeks and larger tributaries, all loaded with bonefish. A pilot study ought to be done in Andros, considered to be a larger section of the bonefishing industry.
The bonefish pilot study in Grand Bahama certainly provides food for thought. The Department of Marine Resources will get this information and it will be interesting to see what the follow-up is.
Hopefully a proactive approach will be taken.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected])
Fishing report as of September 25, 2014
Nassau: The offshore bite has been quite good with mahi and decent sized tuna caught. There have also been quite a few sailfish and even the odd marlin released this week.
Adam Russell, Chubasco Charters, [email protected]
Teddy Pratt www.fishing242charters.com [email protected]
Nicholas Pinder, Born Free Chaters, www.bornfreefishing.com
Mark Kooskalis, North Shore Charters, [email protected]
Dwayne Treco, Morinin’ Ride Charters, www.morninridecharters.com
North Exuma, Highbourne Cay: There have been no reports for offshore fishing. Most anglers have been deep dropping for snapper and grouper.
Highbourne Cay Marina [email protected]
NEW YORK CITY, New York — While in New York City to address the UN on climate change, Prime Minister Christie and his delegation attended a congratulatory dinner for the newest Bahamian Major League baseball player, Antoan Edward Richardson who plays Center Field for the New York Yankees. The dinner was held in New York on 24th September 2014.
Pictured from left are Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Hon. Daniel Johnson; Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Fred Mitchell; Prime Minister Christie; Environment and Housing Minister, Hon. Ken Dorsett; Bernadette Christie, wife of the Prime Minister; Rev. Jesse Jackson; Antoan Richardson; and Tourism Minister, Hon. Obie Wilchcombe.
(BIS PHOTO/Peter Ramsay)
NEW YORK CITY, New York — The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism is looking to ‘get on base’ with the New York Yankees, seeking a partnership with the popular Major League Baseball (MLB) team.
The two sides recently began exploratory discussions on cobranding efforts that would expose millions of baseball fans to The Islands of The Bahamas brand. Director of Sports Tourism Greg Rolle led a team of sports representatives to New York to meet with New York Yankee executives Tuesday evening.
“New York is one of our major target markets and if we can establish a relationship with the Yankees that will help us penetrate the market, it could result in a boost in our visitor numbers,” Rolle said.
The Bahamas delegation also consisted of Minister of Youth, Sports, and Culture Danny Johnson, Ministry of Tourism Sports Marketing Executive Jeff Rodgers, and Senator Greg Burrows.
According to Minister Johnson, a partnership with the Yankees would be The Islands of The Bahamas on a different playing field from competitors.
“The New York Yankees has 3.4 million people attending their games per year, and have about 25 million people in the tri-state area who are fans of the franchise. Putting the brand of The Bahamas along with the Yankees brand would give us a world class platform to attract more visitors,” Johnson said.
From this forum I have long lobbied for a sports lottery. Around the world, many of the peers of Bahamian elite athletes benefit handsomely from lottery funds generated by their countries.
NASSAU, Bahamas — Sister-to-Sister Breast Cancer Support Group, The Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative Foundation, and the Cancer Societies in Abaco, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama and New Providence will all benefit from the funds raised at the CIBC First Caribbean’s 5th Annual “Walk for the Cure” on Sunday October 5th from Goodman’s Bay at 7 a.m.
In the lead up to the event CIBC management and staff have scheduled a multitude of team building and fund-raising events to benefit local Cancer research and care organisations.
Since August, bank employees have been engaged in on and off-site fund raising activities nation-wide to add to the donations that will be raised from the “Walk for the Cure” event on October 5th.
The Bank kicked off the fundraising activities with a weekly jeans-day fundraiser, where every casual Friday until the Walk for the Cure, employees, for a small contribution, could wear jeans to work to show their support.
A dash of fun and panache was added when male-employees were invited to enter to win a, “Real Men Wear Pink” photo competition. Male employees dressed to impress in their best pink outfits and submitted a photo in exchange for a small donation.
There was a time in this country, when the dean of them all, Charlie Major Sr., provided a regular boxing competition forum for up-and-coming Bahamian fighters. Many of the top boxers, professional and amateurs, got their start and developed through the years, right at the Nassau Stadium.
Iconic boxing figures such as Douglas Carey, Wilfred Coakley Jr. and Chris Malakius made the same contribution to varying degrees.
Bahamian boxers had ample opportunities to compete in their own backyard, without risking “hometown” decisions in other areas. Elisha Obed made his way up the ladder to world recognition right in this country by headlining many promotions organized by Coakley and Malakius.
Yes, there was a time when there was a big “control factor” in Bahamian professional boxing. That’s not the case today. Our frontline professionals have little choice but to fight outside of the country. The economic climate is not attractive to promoters.
There is not the television market here to entice foreign promoters. So, our heavyweight champion, Sherman “Tank” Williams, has had to campaign outside of the country. His professional record is 36-13-2-one no contest. At least six of those 13 defeats were hometown decisions in favor of his opponents.
Bahamian lightweight champion Edner Cherry has that status because he was born in this country and lived here for the first 11 years of his life. He has never fought in The Bahamas, however. Meacher Major, the super featherweight Bahamian king, has resisted fighting outside of the country more so than the others. Yet, he has had to relent because of little and often no option at home. Ryon “Big Youth” McKenzie is 14-0 and still moving along very well, but his last six fights have been on foreign soil
His last match, in July, was a majority decision in his favor. He should have won the fight unanimously.
Now, there is Taureano Johnson. He won the world Boxing Council Continental of Americas middleweight title in July. Johnson is 15-1 and at 30, primed to go much further in boxing. There are so many world titles floating around these days. He is capable of winning one of them.
However, Johnson does not have the luxury of padding his record at home and then having a promoter bring one of the champions to The Bahamas to defend against him. So he has to do what’s set to happen tonight. He has to box in another country. He is slated to compete tonight in Santo, Domingo, Dominican Republic. He could end up in a close fight and lose the decision. The same could be the case for Williams when he boxes Joseph Parker in New Zealand on October 16. The “control factor” that maneuvers key boxing matches is not to be found at the present time in The Bahamas.
That’s the big ingredient missing in Bahamian pro boxing. The career of Jermain Mackey, the former Commonwealth super middleweight champion, would have taken a much more successful journey if he had the option to fight more at home, when he led the title. Unfortunately, he went into other countries, took ill-advised matches and is now considered a finished fighter.
Dating back to 2009, when he was stopped by Adonis Stevenson, (current WBC light heavyweight champion), Mackey has lost five consecutive fights. He has not won a fight in three years.
It is an unfortunate situation. The Bahamas Boxing Commission is between a rock and a hard place. There are promoters who would like to get into the mix, but their desire is to seek to pay the various shows’ expenses from the proposed gates. The commission is mandated by its affiliation with international associate bodies to ensure that all expenses from a boxing show are paid.
The only way to make certain of that is to have all the purses, etc. provided, to be held in escrow. This is a huge challenge for most. Therein lies the big difficulty for those wishing to promote.
The commission, however, has to do its job to protect the reputation of The Bahamas.
Meanwhile, without that “control factor”, that availability of promotion options in good numbers, pro boxing in the country remains engaged in an uphill struggle.
• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected]