Sweet science and the art of boxing

Fatu Tuimanono (right) and Manu Delaitabua in a PBWA promotion in Suva in 1999. Picture: FILE

BOXING dates back as one of the combat sports oldest disciplines. Inside a (boxing ring) a stretched canvas between four ringed posts, the sport of boxing has never been for the faint-hearted, but only competed by the bravest of men.

Known as “The Sweet Science,” it is an art that entails two men or women to compete against each other through disciplines comprising punching combinations, defence, upper body movement and footwork and ring craftsmanship done so through a number of rounds.

The objective?

To win as many rounds as possible to force the decision in your favour or knock out your opponent.

Earliest appearance of boxing are reported to date back to Ancient Greece, circa 336 B.C (Before Christ) as recorded by the British Museum, or even before that during the Roman Empire leadership.

There had been proven in artefacts found and recorded around the world that depict drawings and legends surrounding the early existence of the sport.

Boxing, according to history, was later mastered in ancient Greece, adopted by the people as a sport and made its first appearance as an Olympic sport in the 23rd Olympiad in 688 B.C, and now with a following of millions of people around the world, boxing has remained in the spotlight since.

The Fijian legacy

Fiji has had its share of prominence in boxing — both professional and amateur. Former Fijian greats such as Vuniivi Nadumu, Leweni Waqa, Sakaraia Ve, Sunia Cama, Ratu Marika Latianara, Sivinia Koroi, Atama Matauloki, Atama Raqili, Alipate Korovou, Josefa Keresi, Jo Nitiva, Jale Ligavai, Waisiki Ligaloa, Frank Atu and Jo Ravudi, are just a few of the many Fijian sluggers who stepped into the ring and made Fiji recognised in the sport.

Fiji’s two boxing medals so far from the Commonwealth Games came from Tongan Sani Fine, who fought for Fiji in the 1982 games in Brisbane, Australia, in the lightheavyweight division.

He won our first gold medal, and in April, Winston Hill came home with the second medal — a bronze from the Gold Coast games.

Golden Glove Sakaraia Ve rocketed Fiji to fame fighting international opponent such as Clyde Gray, a Canadian professional welter/light middle/middleweight boxer of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, who won the Canada welterweight title, and Commonwealth welterweight title.

Ve and former heavyweight champion Sunia Cama (late) brought home many overseas opponents.

They had good promoters and the crowd was behind the blooming boxing because boxers were firing all pistons and scoring wins.

The Suva Old Town Hall, near the Olympic Pool in Suva which houses one of the Capital City’s popular eatery, the Vineyard (formerly known as Ming Palace Restaurant), used to be full of spectators during a boxing program, and so was the then PWD Gym at Walu Bay, the home of weekly amateur boxing programs in those days.

That’s when boxing was at its height in Fiji.

The administration was good, boxers were probably looked after well, the purses were good, and Fiji had some raw talents and best boxers.

Now the ring craftsmanship has disappreared. The sport is dying. And there are scarce professional programs or big name boxers coming to Fiji to fight. What is the problem?

Tools of the trade
The preparedness of a fighter to be mentally tough and physically fit is also first and foremost.

A Fijian is an adaptable creature, and has the natural instinct to use whatever available to achieve the desired results needed.

Fiji has produced many boxing marvels in the past such as Leweni Waqa, Sakarai Ve, Mosese Sorovi, Tevita Vakalalabure, Frank Atu and other great names.

These greats had achieved many great and long boxing career long before modern training techniques had been introduced.

As the running of the sand dunes was used by our Rugby Sevens Gold medal winning team, running on long roads, and even shadow boxing with trees where some improvised training techniques used.

Maybe a return of linking training methods our fighters use to such natural elements could see a return of a champion breed.

“One concerned follower mentioned that we are eating the wrong food,” highlighted former boxer Eparama Saunokonoko.

With strict diet regimes put on our fighters which see them eat supplements that only provide the necessary vitamins for their body to perform, there are natural supplements that can also provide needs for a fighter.

It is the modern era, qualification is needed for everything.

Both coaches and trainers in the professional and amateur arena need to have certification.

The Fiji Boxing Commission as well as the Fiji Amateur Boxing Association have provided for our trainers to be certified in line with their umbrella bodies of the World Boxing Federation and the International Boxing Association.

However more can be put forward.

Heart and soul
“Fight with determination,” said a boxing official who did not want to be named.

“A boxer has no one other person with him in the ring to help him win his fight.

The will and urge to perform and win will come from within him and him alone. It is about preparation to be mentally tough and physically fit.”

Social media
Boxing now is helped by the use of social media.

“Professional boxing needs to be more vocal and present in media and all social media platforms to get that recognition by the people of Fiji,” Hill said.

“Amateur boxing needs an international coach who will be in a neutral position and unbiased to all clubs and board members.

“But in order to get an internationally accredited coach, amateur boxing requires funding and sponsorship.”

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