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Dear PM: Boxing, more than any other sport, can operate within Covid rules—please, let it resume

“[…] While we understand the rationale behind the decision to suspend to team sports, the WBC hopes to convince you that boxing—more than any other sport—is better positioned to be reintegrated into society at short notice. 

“Indeed, in the execution of a boxing match, fewer than 10 individuals are in close proximity with each other at any point in time. In fact, the only two persons who make close bodily contact are the boxers themselves, and their respective support staff (three persons maximum)…”

The following letter to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley regarding the local Covid-19 restrictions applied to team sport—and boxing in particular—was submitted by the chairman of the World Boxing Council in Central America and the Caribbean, Boxu Potts:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago boxer Nigel Paul (left) in action in the international circuit.
(Copyright CSportFoto/ SkySports)

Dear Sir. It is indeed a privilege to be able to communicate with you on an issue which we believe is of serious  and urgent concern to your Government and equally so to the boxing fraternity in general and the World Boxing Council specifically.

The WBC takes cognisance of the devastating impact the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked throughout the world and right here in Trinidad and Tobago over the last 21 months.

Although victory at home has as not yet been achieved, the WBC notes several encouraging measures taken by your administration to relax some restrictions to ease our society into some semblance of normalcy.

Honourable Prime Minister, you are well aware that almost every sector of the economy has been set back by the deadly pandemic and we are not envious of the huge responsibility you bear in making the hard decisions to balance economic recovery, the return to our way of life, the health and well being of the citizenry and the burden on our healthcare system.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (right) addresses the media while Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh (centre) and Minister of Finance Colm Imbert look on.
(via Office of the Prime Minister)

The WBC, not unlike your administration, believes that youth development and sports go hand in hand and play an integral role even more so as we progress through the new normal of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While we understand the rationale behind the decision to suspend to team sports, the WBC hopes to convince you that boxing—more than any other sport—is better positioned to be reintegrated into society at short notice. 

Indeed, in the execution of a boxing match, fewer than 10 individuals are in close proximity with each other at any point in time. In fact, the only two persons who make close bodily contact are the boxers themselves, and their respective support staff (three persons maximum). 

Apart from the boxers, the referee is in the ring, and judges may be positioned a safe distance away. It is therefore clear that this sport—unlike so many others, especially team sports—presents significantly lower risks of infection and transmission of the Covid-19 virus.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago boxer Claude Noel (right) faces American Howard Davis Jr during the 1980s.
Noel is a former WBA World Lightweight champion.

Honourable Prime Minister, the Covid-19 Protocols drawn up by our organisation and submitted to your good office addresses all of the concerns of the Ministry of Health for a safe return of boxing. These protocols mandate the participation of only fully vaccinated participants including all officials involved in the particular program to minimise the risk of the spread of Covid-19. 

The health requirements of boxing is unique in being the most stringent and precise of all sports requiring clean bills of health from each participant, and the presence of doctors ringside to attend to any emergency and to ensure compliance with all protocols.

Using modern systems for live-streaming on the varied media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and others, boxing can widen its reach into the communities and into the home or wherever one may be. 

Without encouraging large gatherings, we will be able to maintain the same levels of excitement and interest in fights, as audiences have become accustomed to avidly viewing matches as pay-per-view and televised broadcasts over the years.

Photo: Boxing promoter and WBC chair for Central America and the Caribbean, Boxu Potts.

Sir, the sports fraternity, including boxing has been hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the WBC would like to see some relief being afforded to our young athletes after almost two years, and we are confident they have recognised the importance of adhering to all public health regulations. 

It must also be noted that two years without professional training and practice significantly diminishes an athletes competitiveness and chances of success. The WBC believes that the need for return to competition is now dire for all involved in the sport.

We stand ready to do our part to institute our plans and programs and the Covid-19 Boxing Protocols, in sync with the Ministry of Health as soon as you make a determination on the issue.

Best regards always.

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