St. John’s Antigua- Antigua & Barbuda missed out on the Olympic boxing qualifying round and a chance to compete in the London Olympics.
From May 4 to 13 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, two English pugilists of Antiguan parentage represented Antigua & Barbuda and were amongst 128 boxers from 30 countries seeking a place amongst the 28 boxers that were selected.
However, Middleweight fighter Damien Davidson and Light Heavyweight Joel Kirby did not make the grade.
Former WBC Light Middleweight world champion Antiguan-born Maurice Hope (MBE) and Stuart O’Connor, who is coach and trainer of the Royal Air Force Boxing Unit, accompanied the boxers to Brazil.
Hope told OBSERVER Sports that the men were chosen as they were more fully prepared based on having better facilities and more regular warm-up tournaments, and that they were able to attract their own sponsorship for the event.
Hope said Kirby lost by a single point to a Dominican after the referee took away two points for holding.
Davidson, though, lost on points to a Mexican who was more experienced, but he gave a good account of himself.
The former world champ also said that Yakita Aska and Sonny Benjamin were not chosen because they were not fully prepared due to the lack of a proper training facility as well as funding.
He was however quick to point out that he is working closely with O’Connor to bring a team of boxers to Antigua perhaps at year-end for a showdown. Over the two-week period, other programmes are expected to be on tap.
He said that the British trainer would be working in conjunction with Uprising Boxing Gym.
The other Caribbean countries which participated were Grenada, Dominica, Barbados, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, The Bahamas and St Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
Only one boxer from Trinidad and Tobago qualified.
Hope expressed thanks to the National Olympic Committee, The Antigua & Barbuda Boxing Association, and to all those who assisted.