How do the authorities harness the enthusiasm and passion to make these community boxing matches safer without removing the element of fun?
That’s the question posed by Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) President Brian Lewis when asked to share his thoughts on the sudden increase in unofficial boxing matches in some local communities. at the height of a pandemic.
In the past month, viral videos showing young men knocking makeshift rings have created a buzz on social media. So much so that even soca performers and other performers have also jumped into the craze to “call” and challenge others to step into the ring for a mini-fight.
Since the pandemic struck in mid-March last year, sports, especially contact sports, remain banned to curb the spread of covid19.
Recently, these unofficial boxing matches have drawn dozens of people to various locations to get a glimpse of the action.
But the majority of spectators are seen without masks and not practicing social distancing; thus making these events a possible recipe for a covid19 super spreader event.
While there may be athletic merit, Lewis believes they shouldn’t be viewed solely or solely as a source of boxing talent. According to him, it is much more than that.
“How does that have to do with a little boredom or finding an activity to do?” The fact that you have young people and young people ready to hit him. You have to see it for what it is. It is part of the covid19 fatigue that they have to find alternative activities and that they box.
âThat alone provides a signal and an opportunity. The challenge the authorities will now face is how to harness this enthusiasm and passion and make it safer without taking away the element of fun, âhe said.
Some people spend the time reading a book, watching TV, using the computer, or even going out. But with beaches, rivers, and even recreational contact sports still banned due to government regulations, Lewis sees these fights as a way for people to unwind with a new form of “entertainment.”
Putting a structure on these events by adding referees and other elements may defeat its purpose.
âThe challenge is to be able to operate it, but even if you intend to put a structure in it, it’s about making it fun and safe. I would use the word safe sparring.
âThe formalist structure with a referee and other necessities, I don’t know if it’s an activity at the moment. It also requires the engagement of community stakeholders, âhe added.
Sea Lots is one of the communities that adopted and maybe even started these random boxing matches. On Sunday, however, a team of police from the Port of Spain division arrested six people for participating in the unofficial event.
Police even exchanged gunfire with someone they said shot in their direction during the arrests on Sunday.
On September 14, the Boxing Board of Control (TTBBC) declared that boxing competitions must be regulated by the board of directors and can only take place under strict protocols that ensure the safety of competitors, overseen by trained practitioners and certified.
“These protocols also require, in part, the presence of trained medical personnel during the competition, a medical examination of the competitors before and after each competition, and notification to the district police station that an event is to take place,” the TTBBC said in a statement.
Additionally, Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland and boxing promoter Boxu Potts both see bright spots in the Sea Lots initiative. However, both were against contempt for government covid19 regulations during these fights.
Lewis added: âThis is not a case where the boxing council and associations could just rush around and say we need to apply rules and structure to this because you might not get the same answer.
âDon’t put aside the fact that it also has some fun elements and breaks the rules a bit. It’s more complex than just saying that all of these young people are interested and that you can identify the talents.
âI’m saying you can’t necessarily approach it from that straightforward ‘tick your box’ framework. You have to embrace and engage the community. And whoever is responsible because it’s community driven.
The TTOC President said that one should resist the temptation to simply apply the rules and regulations and not identify, in communication and dialogue, what the motivators are.
âMaybe you are trying to provide solutions and you don’t know what the problem is. But it’s also a signal from the start that we need to seriously consider how to get covid-19 safe sports back on track.
âHow to create safety zones for sport? How to be creative to come up with countermeasures that achieve the goal of the Ministry of Health and public health authorities while engaging in sporting activity, âhe said.
Lewis added that authorities should recognize the innovation and creativity that fuels these activities, but not underestimate the anti-authority and anti-establishment thereof.
He said it doesn’t matter what region or part of the country you are from because children, youth and youth love to play.
âI consider it more of an organized game than an organized sport. The question is whether the authorities are open-minded enough to resist the temptation to see it only as organized sport, in this case, organized boxing?
âI don’t necessarily think so. I think if you approach it from an organized sport point of view, you would be able to capture this zeitgeist. You should also be aware that there is an important measure of control, âhe concluded.