‘Step at a time’

ON the eve of one of the world’s biggest boxing programs – when Anthony Joshua stopped Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round at Wembley yesterday, Fiji’s former golden gloves, Sakaraia Ve says it will take time for Fiji to improve in the sport.

Ve, 60, was present at the Sakaraia Ve Charity fight at Raiwai Youth Hall in Suva on Saturday.

He fought 87 fights out of which he recorded 62 wins including 36 knockouts.

He is still eager, alert and strong whenever he sees boxers going head to head.

Ve looked at the boxers closely just like a lion looks at his prey and gave out some valuable tips from outside the ring to the young boxers who fought during the event.

“This is a great chance for the dying sport. Maybe it was a charity program, at the end of the day, it is for boxing and we are trying to revive boxing in Fiji,” he said.

“Boxing is dead and we need to develop from the grassroots level.

“It may take another few years to come up.

“I am helping the clubs to revive the sport and these clubs includes those from Ra, Naitasiri and other parts of Fiji.

“We need more boxing schools and may be in different places like Labasa where they need to get the young people involved in the sport.”

The Visoto Village, Lovoni, Ovalau native was regarded as the ‘Muhammad Ali of Fiji.’

He was famous for his ducks and weaves, short jabs and his fighting styles which still linger in the minds of most boxing fans.

“We did not do well in the last Pacific Games and the boys were not that good to win gold medals.

“We need to improve on these if we are to revive boxing in the country. There are also no proper gyms around the country.

“We need to have more trainers who know what is needed to train boxers.

“The boxers during our time, they used to work very hard for their fights and now the boys are not aiming for anything and they are aimless.

“There are talents around, but they do not have patience and boxing is one sport where you need a lot of patience.”

Ve defeated Ramesh Chand to win his first fight in 1975 and later he was rated fifth in the Welterweight Division by the World Boxing Council and sixth by the World Boxing Association in his prime days.

“Boxers like Winston Hill and Sebastian Singh they need to continue to improve and gain more support, gain more crowd and make boxing lively.

“They need to be skillful and improve in all departments.

“The boxers got the footwork, but they lack skills like uppercut which need to be taught from the grassroots level.

“Once I had seven South Pacific and local titles with me and rated number seven in the world. I want to come back into boxing to train the younger boys.

“My only message to the young boys is to have a dream and work hard towards it and listen to good advice,” he said.

More than 500 people turned up to watch the program on Saturday and people who helped in the charity included the Minister for Sports Laisenia Tuitubou, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, former heavyweight Waisiki Ligaloa, former middleweight champion Sivinia Koroi, Paula Tuilau, and Olympian Winston Hill.

Program coordinator Waisea Kaloumaira said more amatuer boxing programs were expected to be held at Raiwai with the assistance of Fiji Amatuer Boxing Association.

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