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Setting the record straight on Elisha Obed

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.

It’s time.

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]

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Focus on healthy bonefish population imperative

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])

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By [email protected] (Fred Sturrup)

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]

 

Source:: ‘Control factor’ missing from local pro boxing

Olympic movement resonating throughout country

There is no doubt about the positive impact of the Bahamas Olympic Committee’s (BOC) proactive outreach program. The BOC under the leadership of President Wellington Miller has intensified its communications efforts and now enjoys a solid link with the sporting fraternity in the country.

Indeed, the Olympic Movement in the country is resonating in such a way that many who are not connected to the national sporting landscape, are familiar with the body of work being done by the BOC. The BOC now has a particular meaning to Bahamians.

For decades, the chief Olympic body in the country was like a secret organization. It surfaced only on the occasions when national delegations were being processed for the Olympic Games, the Pan American Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games.

This is the era in which a number of other international events, mostly of the junior category, are in the Olympic mix. Attending these new entities (and showcasing the other aspects of its national program, such as facilitating camps, seminars and clinics for athletes, coaches, trainers and sports administrators), has given the BOC a presence like never before.

It is to the credit of Miller and his executives that the BOC has its highest local profile, ever. The BOC is indeed succeeding in attaining a lot of milestones. Most recently, a Brazilian coach was made available to assist Bahamas Volleyball Federation (BVF) President Joe Smith with the development program of the sport.

Then, there is the opportunity given by the BOC to Kayla Johnson. She will travel to Mexico to train for coaching certification in boxing. If successful, Johnson will be the first female to be thus qualified.

That accomplishment would enable Johnson to cement her name in Bahamian sports history. Johnson is from a boxing family. Her uncle, Lionel Glinton, was one of the first Bahamians to win a boxing medal. Her brother is Taureano Johnson, widely regarded as the finest amateur boxer The Bahamas has ever produced. He is presently the holder of a regional middleweight title.

Kayla has been actively working with young boxers for almost a decade now. Hopefully, the heightening of her profile in boxing will draw others of the fairer sex to the sport. While the participation of women in boxing is spreading worldwide, the trend has not taken hold in The Bahamas. In December of 2003, Rosemary Greene became the first Bahamian female to box officially. She won the match and forever has ownership of being the first Bahamian female boxer to record a victory.

She never fought again however. While there have been a few female boxers engaging in exhibitions, the Bahamas Boxing Commission has no record of another Bahamian female participating in an official match. Michelle Minus, for a while, was prominent as a boxing promoter.

An interest in officiating has been expressed by a few females. However, there has never been strong presence of women boxing associates in The Bahamas. Certainly, if Johnson returns as a certified coach, she will be in a position to build her program and perhaps others will emulate her.

Best wishes Kayla! Congratulations BOC!

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected])

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Antoan Richardson striving to impress Yankees

By [email protected] (Fred Sturrup)

Batting eighth and playing right field for the New York Yankees is Antoan Richardson. That announcement has been heard several times in recent days as the New Yankees continued to wind down the regular season in the American League of Major League Baseball (MLB). The 30-year-old Bahamian has thus far been taking full advantage of his second opportunity to hold on in the major leagues. It didn’t happen for him with the Atlanta Braves. The team did not include him on the 2012 opening day roster.

If he keeps up the present pace during the final games of the 2014 season for the Yankees, however, Richardson stands a good chance of surviving, being invited to spring training with the big club and getting the ultimate word that he made the roster to start the 2015 season. It’s a long road ahead for him, though.

What he has done so far is quite encouraging and speaks pointedly to his understanding that this just might be his very last chance to solidify his MLB status. I pulled up the Yankees’ team statistics early Saturday morning and there was Richardson, at the top of the heap. In five games, he had four official at-bats from which he produced three hits. He was leading the team with a .750 average and an on-base percentage of .800. Richardson started on Saturday evening for the Yankees against the Baltimore Orioles and went 1-for-3 with a run batted in (RBI) during the 3-2 victory.

After Saturday’s game, his batting average was .571 (4-for-7), he had three stolen bases in three tries and six put outs from six total chances in the outfield. Richardson definitely is getting the call. Manager Joe Girardi is putting his number into the line-up. That Richardson can play with the big guys is not necessarily in doubt. What he has to do is make Girardi want to put him into the mix when it counts in 2015. At present, Richardson is not on the Yankees’ depth chart. For right field, Martin Prado, normally an infielder, and Suzuki are on the Yankees’ depth chart for the position. The group of outfielders presently on the Yankees’ 40-man roster includes Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, Chris Young and Richardson. All except Richardson, based on guaranteed contracts, will probably be back with the Yankees or playing with another MLB team.

Richardson has to stay focused on every occasion, whether at bat, on the base path on in the outfield. At 30, soon to be 31 (October 8), the odds are against him. He fits into the Yankee mold for the outfield, however. He can make contact with the ball, is a big threat to steal when on base and manages the outfield quite well. Suzuki became a fixture in the outfield for the Seattle Mariners and Yankees with the same special talents. He made contact at the plate, ran the bases well and has been solid as an outfielder. Now, at 40 (he will be 41 on October 22) following 13 seasons in MLB and eight in the Japanese League, Suzuki is slowing down.

Maybe, Richardson will be looked upon at the end of spring training in 2015 to hold down the starting right field position of the Yankees. Whatever the case, Richardson is presently on a good run. The view here is that no matter what takes place in April of 2015, Richardson will be able to look back with satisfaction that he gave it his best shot.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected])

Source:: Antoan Richardson striving to impress Yankees

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