Winning an Olympic boxing medal a huge financial undertaking- Ninvalle

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By Avenash Ramzan

Guyana has a solitary Olympic medal, a bronze won by boxer Michael Parris in 1980. Since then, a lot has changed in terms of how sport is administered and how top-flight athletes are nurtured to reach their peak.

Cognisant of this shift, the Guyana Boxing Association is putting systems in place to ensure the country’s boxers are getting the much-needed exposure and preparation in order to add to Parris’ medal.

Only this week the Association received a timely donation from the National Sports Commission to help with covering costs related to boxers and officials attending a three-month training camp in Cuba ahead of the Olympic Qualifier in Argentina in March-April 2020.

Steve Ninvalle (Stabroek News photo)

These are necessary steps, the Association’s president Steve Ninvalle highlighted, if Guyana is to first qualify for the Games and subsequently medal.

The last time a Guyanese boxer qualified for the Olympic Games was in 1996 in the form of John Douglas.

Ninvalle, in responding to questions from the media this week, sought to put into perspective the structures that have to be functioning to produce an Olympic-medalling boxer and the ballpark figure that is needed to make this a reality.

“In order to do that it will cost nothing less than US$800,000 to a US$1 million. That is the sort of input that you would need,” Ninvalle highlighted.

That budget would cover training camps, attending qualifying tournaments, a proper nutrition plan and exposure to high-level coaching.

“When you look at countries such as Kazakhstan, a major player in amateur boxing or what was amateur boxing, that’s the amount of money that is put into getting a medal, and that’s not a gold medal,” Ninvalle shared.

A small economy as Guyana’s comes with its challenge and boxing, like most other disciplines, has had to move around with its begging bowl and grapple with limited resources.

“Because of the paucity of resources in the third world, we find that we’re not able to do that and that is the reason why from the entire CARICOM you only have one boxing medal,” Ninvalle reasoned.

The four boxers slated to make the trip to Cuba are Dennis Thomas, Desmond Amsterdam, Colin Lewis and Keevin Allicock. The coaches are Terrence Poole and Sebert Blake.

The contingent is expected to leave Guyana for Cuba on December 29.

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