Richards, 19, turns trauma into national boxing glory

Holistic Boxing Academy fighter Josiah Richards.  - Photo by Angelo Marcelle
Holistic Boxing Academy fighter Josiah Richards. - Photo by Angelo Marcelle

MOULDING an organisation into a successful entity is usually a long and arduous process. When Holistic Boxing Academy (HBA) started in 2021, the aim of its founder and head coach Jael Nunes was to pass on his knowledge as a boxer to others.

In a 2021 interview with Newsday, the retired boxer said, “My initiative is not really for everyone to become competitive boxers. I don’t mind breeding one or two champions out of Malabar. That would be ideal. It’s really about getting the community involved and getting them to look forward to something. This is me giving back to my community and it will employ many ways."

Three years later, the goal has been achieved.

The academy participated in the National Boxing Championship, from January 18-21, at the Pleasantville Community Sporting Complex, and the results were very encouraging.

At their training base at Malabar Phase 1, Norman Kisto Park, Arima, Nunes said, "I entered two athletes in the championship, which is a stepping stone for young aspiring athletes to gain the opportunity to make the national team. In the 57 kg weight category, we entered Kyle Salim, 18, and Josiah Richards, 19, competed in the 63.5 kg weight class." There were 74 bouts over four days.

Boxers Kyle Salim, left, and Josiah Richards, spar at their outdoor boxing ring at Malabar Phase 1. - Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Bagging the gold medal in his very first tournament was Richards. Joining the club just six months ago, Richards credits the accomplishment to hard work. He said, "The first match I competed in I was very frightened, to be honest, and nervous. I was out of it in the first round and spoke to myself. I had nothing to lose so I went out and performed.

"I took part in three matches, with three rounds each. I won all unanimously. Right now I'm still shocked that I am the national champion, but I do know that hard work pays out in the end. I also know that I deserve it. I've been with the cub for six months and the training was hard. It was rough but good."

Asked how he was able to accomplish such a feat in such a short time, a giggling Josiah said, "I was a fighter in school. I wasn't miserable. What to say...I just didn't like disrespect and I got myself in lots of trouble because of that. Now I have decided to channel that energy into boxing."

Without going into too much explanation, Richards said, "I grew up rough so running track was how I decided to spend my time. I would just be running a lot because of my traumatic experiences. One day a coach called Wamba stopped me and told me that I needed to take my energies into boxing."

Coach Nunes said, "I was teaching a class at a gym one day and saw Josiah hitting the boxing bag. He didn't have proper form but had raw talent. I told him with proper training he can be good."

Richards said he channelled every bad experience he had into the sport. "I'm very glad that I took up boxing. It feels really good to accomplish something when you know you've worked hard for it."

Holistic Boxing Academy head coach Jarel Nunes, centre, with his fighters Kyle Salim, right, and Josiah Richards. - Photo by Angelo Marcelle

He plans to stay in his present weight class to defend his title and gather some more experience. Despite not medalling, Nunes is proud of Salim. "He performed well and showed great tenacity by fighting with a knee injury."

Salim said, "I started boxing when I was in form one, and recently finished school. So about five years (in the sport). But I started getting professional training when the academy opened. I joined boxing because I wanted to get in shape and build muscle. A few months of doing it and I fell in love with the sport and decided to do it competitively.

"At the championship, I lost my fight due to an injury, but I lost it nevertheless. It was an experience I don't plan to get again (losing). I plan to work and build up myself stronger and better. Overall the experience was a good one because I got to learn a lot of things about myself as a fighter and as a person, I know what I need to work on – but I am still angry about the loss because I know I could have done better. It was also my first time competing."

Regular classes at HBA resume with after-school session for children eight to ten years old and evening classes from 5.30 pm. There will also be a class for children 12-16, Those interested in competing will be training from 6.30 pm. The academy can be contacted at 329-1439.

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"Richards, 19, turns trauma into national boxing glory"

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