SPORTS

Boxing Revival Starts Today

It was April 7, 1980, a public holiday was declared in Labasa so people could watch Fiji’s golden boy of boxing, Sakaraia Ve take on Australian slugger Eric King. Ve
19 Dec 2015 15:33
Boxing Revival Starts Today
From left: Tabua Power Fiji managing director Azam Khan, Joseph Kwadjo, Pranil Dass (promoter), Opeti Tagi and referee Faiyaz Khan in Labasa yesterday. Photo: Peni Drauna

It was April 7, 1980, a public holiday was declared in Labasa so people could watch Fiji’s golden boy of boxing, Sakaraia Ve take on Australian slugger Eric King.

Ve was at the peak of his career and people came from as far as Taveuni just to catch a glimpse of this boxing sensation from Lovoni, Ovalau.

As a 10-year-old, I was among thousands of fans at Subrail Park that rainy day crazy just to watch Ve in action. The whole town went crazy and the Ve- chants were heard from almost every corner of the town.

Although the North at that time had produced boxing greats, like Sakiusa Cawaru, Samuela Vocea, Subash Chand, Smokin’ Joe Keresi and Inia Catarogo, this Ve ‘mania’ was of a different magnitude.

People started celebrating as soon as he knocked King out in the second round. The way he did it was the talk of the town. The interest in the sport somewhat sky-rocketed. A Rewa Milk ad, at that time where Ve spoke about it being the secret of his strength, saw lots of people taking it up as their daily drink.

This went on for years and resulted in the emergence of top boxers like Noa Bukai, Navitalai Nabobo, Atama Raqili, Jare Lalakai, Maika Sayaad, Lorima Rakula, Bobby Shah, Sharamat Shah, Jokimi Lutua, Pita Teleni, Tomasi Bukalidi, Orisi Somumu, Nat Ledua, Tevita Vakalalabure, Lepani Bote, Mohammed Arif, Ben Lanyon, Setefano Vasuibau, Taslim Shah, Gyan Kumar, Osea Nakanacagi, Lote Duna and Jim Anthony.

Over the years, dirty politics and controversial dealings reared its ugly head and killed the interest of the sport in the North with the last promotion staged 14 years ago.

There’s hope that this is all about to change! Westwood Boxing promoter Praneel Dass is keeping his fingers crossed when he stages his second promotion at the same venue this afternoon.

The Lautoka businessman has put his money on the line for today’s showdown. Even Ghanaian boxer Josepha Kwadjo has caught on with that ‘revival’ dream. While things may not be like what it was in the 1980s, at least they have started from somewhere.

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj

 

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