SOCA artiste Swappi (Marvin Davis) wants to bring life back into the sport of boxing locally through the Sea Lots boxing community, which is planning a bout between fellow entertainer Trinidad Killa (Kern Joseph) and himself.
Sea Lots has been in the spotlight over the past weeks as videos have circulated on social media of boxing matches in the community.
Swappi and Trinidad Killa, who are scheduled to square off on November 25, are both from East Port of Spain.
Newsday caught up with Swappi on Friday at a training session at the Sea Lots Community Centre, alongside boxing promoter Buxo Potts, who is training him for the forthcoming fight.
“Really excited (about the fight),” Swappi said.
He said when you grow up in Sea Lots you are a born fighter, as life will have hurdles to overcome.
“This is something that has been in the making for a long time within my spirit, because you know we come from the roots of fighting, it’s in our blood. When I say in our blood, we fight every day for what we want.
"Coming from this lovely community, there are a lot of fighters that keep fighting for what they want. We fight for everything. We fight for rights, we fight for justice, we fight for freedom, we fight for peace, we fight for the right things.”
Potts trained former women’s TT champion Jizelle Salandy, who died in a car crash in 2009. Salandy, who was 21 when she died, held multiple world titles.
Swappi believes since then local boxing has decreased in popularity and wants to bring new life into the sport.
“After Jizelle Salandy, boxing has died, but now this thing happening here has brought some life into it. So why refuse it, why ignore it? Those who want to jump on board, jump on board. If you want to come on board honestly, come on board honestly. You are welcome. Let’s talk and make this thing happen.”
Swappi said many legendary boxers did not only fight in the ring, but were advocates of peace and equality.
“There are other fighters that you grew up watching – Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Louis, Mike Tyson – all these guys fought in their community. They fought for freedom, they fought for justice, they fought for all these things first, because it is in their blood and it makes me no different.”
Swappi wants to ensure a legitimate event.
“We are in talks with various people right now. We don’t want to disclose (them) because things have to be tied up in a nice professional manner,” he said. Matches have received criticism in the past as large crowds have gathered which was against covid19 protocols. At a match on September 26, a team of police attempted to disperse the crowd. The police were shot at and the police returned fire. No one was wounded.
Swappi’s six-year-old son Cade accompanied him to the training session.
Swappi wants to be an inspiration to Cade, who is showing an interest in the sport.
“He likes fighting and he wants to be a part of it when he gets older, so we want to start now. We have the support of the community, we have the support of all communities…to bring communities together. Put down the guns and fist up. Gun down and fist up.”
The Sea Lots boxing community initiative is not limited to soca artistes and entertainers, as Swappi has lofty goals.
“This is celebrity boxing, something we trying to create (with) all celebrities (including) doctors, nurses, soldiers. You are a celebrity in your own right.
“We want to extend this to the Caribbean – cricketers, footballers, newscasters, journalists like yourself – if you want to square up against someone from the (TT) Express.”
All weight divisions will be included in the project, he said.
Swappi, who dabbled in track and field in his younger days, was not involved in boxing but the sport always had his interest.
Asked if he is a fan of any boxer, Swappi said, “I love Mike Tyson style bad, bad, bad.”
He also likes Ali for his footwork, Tyson for his aggressiveness and speed and Evander Holyfield for his condition and his “little tricks.”
Swappi believes he is ready to take a punch. “Like I said…I am a born fighter, so we born ready and always ready.”
Ali was well known for his "lyrics" and how he would tease his opponents leading up to a bout with colourful language.
In a joking manner, Swappi said his opponent should be a worried man.
“He should be scared right now…Trinidad Killa, this is no joke, this is real. You better get up and start training.”