PRESIDENT of the TT Boxing Association (TTBA) Cecil Forde says he plans on seeking an audience with TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis and Sport and Youth Affairs Minister Shamfa Cudjoe to discuss the cancellation of a 12-fight amateur boxing card at the Youth Training Centre (YTC), recently.
The event was cancelled before the first bout when staff of the Trinidad Boxing Board of Control (TBBC) inspected the ring and advised TTBA officials that the canvas was unsuitable.
Newsday understands a considerable rip on the surface of the ring was the contentious issue.
The card was the second in as many months to be cancelled by TBBC officials. Forde said the first card was cancelled because their request for a permit was done eight days before the card, in breach of the TBBC’s required two-week notice, a reason he described as “frivolous”.
He said before Saturday’s bout, doctors had already checked the boxers and officials were in the process of completing final preparations on the ring when TBBC staff inspected the ring and advised them that it was unsuitable.
Forde said, “Before we could do that (fit the apron on the base of the ring), two staff members of the board, who have the permit, made a decision that the canvas of the ring was not safe and they refused to give us the permit.
“At the end of the day, these people come to boxing with the permit, which we applied for the 14 days before. How did they determine that the mat – the canvas – was dangerous? (Under) whose authority was that given?”
Forde said the TBBC’s personnel could have used discretion by allowing them additional time to make recommended adjustments and letting the card proceed.
“It was just, ‘okay, we’re not satisfied, no boxing,'” Forde said, noting that it was the TBBC which previously repaired the same ring.
The problems between the TTBA and the TBBC, Forde said, stem from the fact that the latter wants the TTBA to work with all regulations outlined in the Boxing Control Act (1932), which was designed for professional boxing over a decade before the amateur boxing association was established.
Forde continued, “That 14 days (to apply for a permit) is for professional boxing,” Forde said. “Amateur boxers don’t fight on contracts. They do not fight for money. The 14 days is for professional boxing where the board has an opportunity to check the contracts and make sure the money is being paid, etcetera. They are using the Act to victimise amateur boxing. I will not allow them to shut down boxing."
He added, "We have been trying to get them to understand amateur boxing is different. I have been here 15 years and I have worked with about five or six different boards and we’ve never had a board that came in that did not sit with us and work it out.
"Because the law is not about amateur boxing. We have been asking that the Act be updated so it can take into consideration what is amateur boxing. None of the members of the (TBBC) board have any experience in boxing so they are interpreting the Act as they see it and it is not right. It is affecting us."
Forde said the amateur association deals with several national boxers and should garner the desired respect it deserves.
“If we shut down boxing, what is our position? What will happen to people like Nigel Paul and Michael Alexander and Aaron Prince (national boxers) whose careers are on the line because they cannot qualify (for Olympics)?”
Because the event was hosted at YTC, where regular citizens are not normally permitted to enter, there were no spectators. This, Forde said, meant the institution, which has provided some of TT’s top boxers and the athletes, took a financial hit.
He said YTC lost between $15,000-$20,000 which went towards catering, medals, trophies, the transportation of equipment and other items of expense.
Forde said the TTABA will use the same ring when the body hosts its upcoming bouts, which it has applied for well in advance of the two-week requirement enforced by the TTBBC.