…Ninvalle says flights continue to be a bugbear
By Rawle Toney
THE Guyana Boxing Association (GBA) is working overtime to see the return of Colin Lewis, Keevin Allicock, Desmond Amsterdam and Dennis Thomas back home, after the quartet were unable to leave Cuba before the country closed its borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Today marks the 87th day that the boxers are stranded in Cuba,” GBA president Steve Ninvalle said in a release yesterday, while adding the “GBA continues to do all within its power to have the boxers return home the earliest possible time.”
The boxers had journeyed to Cuba, thanks to the help of the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) and the National Sports Commission (NSC), to prepare for their now postponed Olympic Qualifier tournament in Argentina, but after countries around the world, in an effort to stop the spread the coronavirus, had closed their port of entries, they were left locked down on the Island.
The GOA, the NSC and the Guyana Embassy in Cuba, came together and had taken up the responsibility to cater to the boxers until they’re able to leave.
“In recent time, the association has even sought the assistance [of] local aviation savant, Capt. Jerry Gouveia, who willingly offered advice,” Ninvalle said.
According to Ninvalle, “although approved to return home, the boxers face another hurdle as there are no approved flights to bring them back home. We (GBA) understand that over a week ago Caribbean Airlines have written to the COVID-19 Task Force seeking clearance for a flight to bring several nationals back to the Caribbean. A response is awaited.”
Ninvalle, who also sits as a Vice President of the American Boxing Confederation (AMBC) had told Chronicle Sport recently that Olympic Qualifier tournament tentatively is now set to take place between February and March of 2021.
He had admitted that despite being disappointed that the initial event was postponed, they will head back to the drawing board as soon as the boxers return home from Cuba.
Apart from the boxers based in Cuba, Canada-based Taveena Kum is the lone female on Guyana’s five-member team that were set to feature in the Qualifier which was scheduled for March 26 to April 4 in Argentina.
Ninvalle also felt that with the amount of work done, Guyana was robbed of not seeing a boxer qualify for the Olympic Games, stating “the four boxers that we have in Cuba, they were trained to a peak; their mental strength was there to a peak and I think it would’ve been the first time that we would’ve had a qualifier for the Olympics in a very, very long time.”
John Douglas, Guyana’s flag bearer for the 1996 Olympic Games, was the last boxer to represent the Golden Arrowhead at the IOC’s flagship event, where he lost in the first round of his light heavyweight clash with Germany’s Thomas Ulrich, who went on to claim bronze.
As it relates to the sport’s return, Ninvalle said “as it is, our boxers have all been advised to do nothing in close proximity of each other. So they can run and they can shadow box, but there’s no sparring.”
He added that the boxers will be “just training to keep fit, because they can’t train for a competition that they don’t know when it’s going to be held. So, as soon as we have the green light, then we will put our plans in place; but if you ask me, I don’t expect any boxing to be held in Guyana within the next four months.”