Olympics | SPORTS

Hatch: Fijian Olympic Legend

A mateur boxing icon Hector Hatch was one of the first Fijians to represent the country in the Olympics. He then became one of the pioneers who were responsible for
20 Jul 2016 13:24
Hatch: Fijian Olympic Legend
Our Team Fiji fighter in the Rio Olympics… Welterweight representative Winston Hill. Photo: FASANOC

A mateur boxing icon Hector Hatch was one of the first Fijians to represent the country in the Olympics.

He then became one of the pioneers who were responsible for building the sport here.

In 1956, Hatch, a weltereight, was one of two boxers of the five-member Fijian team that represented the country for the first time at an Olympic Games, in Melbourne, Australia. The other boxer was light welterweight Thomas Schuster. The other members of the Fijian team were: William Ragg (Chef de Mission), Harry Charman (Boxing Trainer), Mesuluame Rakuro (Athlete), J Gilmore (Yachting), N Bently (Yachting).

Fiji was not represented again in boxing at an Olympic Games until 1988 in Seoul, South Korea, where Apete Temo Raiwalui (light welterweight), Isimeli Lesivakarua (welterweight) and Josateki Basalusalu (middleweight) appeared for Fiji.

Hatch lost in 1956 in the preliminaries against Romanian Nocolae Linca, who went on to win the gold medal.

FASANOC records show that after retiring from boxing as a competitor, Hatch became actively involved in the Fiji Amateur Boxing Association (FABA) and was appointed an executive member in 1958 where he served as secretary, chairman and president for more than 34 years until 1992.

 

Official

As a qualified OABA Technical Official and Judge Hatch was appointed as the Technical Official in charge of Boxing for the inaugural 1963 South Pacific Games and the 1979 Games in Fiji plus the 1971 Games in Tahiti.

He also officiated as a Judge at the 1983 SPG in Samoa and at the 1989 Mini Games in Tonga.

During 1966-1983 Hatch was the trainer of the national team that included successful boxing teams to the South Pacific Games in New Caledonia 1966 (6 Gold) and Papua New Guinea 1969 (4 Gold, 2 Silver, 3 Bronze) as well as to the 1974 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand.   As Competition Manager Hatch was responsible for the successful organisation of the boxing competition at the Suva 2003 South Pacific Games.

 

Trainer

Hatch was instrumental in Fiji’s affiliation to the Oceania Amateur Boxing Association and also trained and accompanied many Fijian teams to the Oceania Amateur Boxing Championships from the late 1970’s to 1992.

 

West

He was actively involved as an organiser and trainer of the Charman’s Boxing Club and was responsible for the formation in 1964 of the Suva Youth Centre Boxing Club based at the YMCA where he served as trainer and manager from 1964 to 1966.  Upon being transferred to the Western Division he set up the Western District Amateur Boxing Association in 1966 and was secretary and trainer from 1966 to 1969.

Hatch’s dedication and involvement after his participation as an athlete, ensured the continuity and development of the sport of boxing for many years.  His knowledge of boxing and in particular the rules of amateur boxing greatly improved the status of boxing in Fiji and Fiji’s standing in the region.

Hatch’s integrity as a boxer and official extended to other aspects of his life. He worked as a business executive in the private sector and was involved in the employers consultative body engaging government on labour issues. He served as Minister for Public Enterprise and Public Sector Reform in the interim cabinet formed by Laisenia Qarase in the wake of the 2000 coup by George Speight. In 2007 he was appointed by the Bainimarama Government to head the Public Service Commission. He later resigned citing poor health as the reason. He died on April 14 this year aged 80.

As a boxing official and trainer, Hatch showed a lot of passion and unwavering commitment. He told a group of young boxers he was training in Suva one day: “If you want to be good boxers you must listen and follow instructions.”

It’s a good advice and one that Winston Hill, our sole boxing welterweight rep at the Rio Olympics, should take on board.

Hill now joins Hatch, Schuster, Lesivakarua, Raiwalui and  Basalusalu  in a special group of Fijian Olympic boxers.

Through the decades since Hatch came back from the Melbourne Olympics, the sport had been motivated by Hatch’s legacy.

To those who know him, he was a legend.

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 



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