Director of Sport Christopher Jones (L), presents the Government of Guyana’s $2.5M cheque to GBA president Steve Ninvalle, towards sending five boxers and officials to the Olympic Qualifiers in Argentina. (Adrian Narine photo) By Rawle Toney
THE Government of Guyana, through the National Sports Commission (NSC), has come to the aid of the country’s top boxers, who are all aiming to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Yesterday, at a simple, yet significant presentation ceremony, Director of Sport Christopher Jones handed over a cheque valued $2.5M to president of the Guyana Boxing Association (GBA) Steve Ninvalle. The donation will go towards sending Colin Lewis, Desmond Amsterdam, Keevin Allicock, Dennis Thomas and Canadian-based Taveena Kum to the March 26-April 3 Olympic Qualifying tournament in Argentina.
On Tuesday GBA in a press release said that they were ‘on the ropes’ as it related to gathering the US$11 000 needed for the boxers’ accommodation, as well as the US$1800 per person towards getting them to Argentina, especially after they had missed the February 24 deadline given.
Jones told reporters at his Homestretch Avenue Office, that initially, the NSC had told the GBA upon their previous request that based on the unavailability of a budget they were unable to assist the team’s trip to Argentina.
The Government of Guyana had combined with the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) to send a team of four boxers and coach to Cuba for a three-month stint as part of the GBA’s plans to properly prepare them for the up-coming qualifying tournament.
According to Jones, it would have been inhumane for the NSC, and by extension the Government, to not come to find a way to rescue the association.
Jones pointed out that despite the circumstances surrounding acquiring funds, the NSC “had to do what is necessary to ensure that our boxers stay focussed and not have to worry about anything or be distracted about whether or not they would be unable to participate in the Olympic qualifiers.
“The four boxers and coach who are in Cuba, we want them to be focussed … we are confident, based on the work we’ve seen the boxing association has been doing over the years, that our boxers will make it to the Olympics.”
Ninvalle praised the Government for their late, but yet timely intervention, noting that he was certain, this time more than ever before, that Guyana will be represented in the field of boxing at the Olympic Games this year, and will also return with a medal.
The GBA president said, unlike before, the boxers are better prepared, thanks to the collaborative effort between Government and the GOA.
Terrence Poole MS, Sebert Blake and Francisco Roldan are the coaches travelling with the boxers to Argentina.
GBA gets ‘green light’ to bring boxers home By Staff Reporter - May 26, 2020
FLASHBACK! GBA president Steve Ninvalle (centre) flanked by boxers (L-R) Colin Lewis, Dennis Thomas, Keevin Allicock and Desmond Amsterdam, during a visit to their camp in Santa Clara.
THE Guyana Boxing Association (GBA) stated on Monday, that they had gotten the ‘go ahead’ to bring Cuba-based Colin Lewis, Dennis Thomas, Desmond Amsterdam and Keevin Allicock back to Guyana.
This information, according to Steve Ninvalle, president of the GBA, was given during an informal discussion with the Director of Sport Christopher Jones. To date GBA, according to a release, is yet to receive an official correspondence from Guyana’s COVID-19 Task Force, with regard to their two-week old request.
“We are happy with the news that we’ve received; though it’s unofficial. We will expect what the Director of Sport tells us is something that we would have gotten from the horse’s mouth. Of course we would have loved to have an official response from the COVID-19 Task Force. Nevertheless, we have commenced work in bringing these young ambassadors back,” Ninvalle told Chronicle Sport yesterday.
“This is now a national effort,” Ninvalle posited, adding that “these guys went out there not to represent themselves but actually to do good for Guyana. We at GBA) will leave no stones unturned until we get them back home.” Ninvalle highlighted that GBA had also written to the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) and the National Sports Commission (NSC) – the two bodies that formed an alliance to financially support the boxers’ trip to Cuba – to render assistance in returning the four boxers to Guyana.
The amateur pugilists, Ninvalle related, are mentally-drained, given the fact that it has been 68 days since their originally scheduled return date was disrupted by the closure of the country’s borders and airports, for commercial travel, when the Government of Guyana took stringent measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Three of the four are breadwinners for their families, and Ninvalle reasoned that the unintentional and extended absence from their homes has had a negative economic impact for their respective families.
The aforementioned boxers, along with Canada-based Taveena Kum, were in preparation mode to compete at the March 26 – April 4 Americas Boxing Confederation (AMBC) Americas Olympic Qualifier, but the GBA was left counting their losses in the millions, after the Argentina government had restricted international events in the country with immediate effect.
Since their unforeseen extended stay on the Spanish-speaking island the boxers are in care of the Government of Guyana with assistance from the Guyana Consulate in Cuba.