Boxing is alive and well in PNG

Normal, Weekender

The National, Friday 30th December 2011

THE recent four-day National Boxing tournament in Vanimo, West Sepik province was a success. As host, Vanimo fielded teams in all divisions – novice, female and senior and came out overall winners with eight gold medals, six silver and four bronze. They finished ahead of NCD who collected six gold and two silver, Kairuku finished with three gold, one silver and one bronze, Aitape with two gold, one silver and four bronze, Gulf with one gold, three silver and two bronze, Wewak with two silver and three bronze and Bulolo collected three bronze.
It was an event of victories and upsets in all divisions.
The king of the ring in the 46kg division and ageless champion Jack Willie was dethroned. He lost his title to unknown De La Salle High School student Charles Keamau of Kairuku, Central province.
PNG Boxing Union tournament director Dick Larry clarified that the tournament is won by number of golds in all divisions, and not senior only.
“I want to clarify that it is not a senior championships, it is an open boxing championship which also attracted novices and female categories,” he said.
Host centre won five gold medals on offer in the novice division, three gold medals in female division and they rightly stake their claim as the overall winner.
In the novice (men) final, these following Vanimo fighters picked up gold medals in respective divisions; Darex Dai (9kg), Cedric Hossem (52kg), Darrel Brabou (56kg), Alfred Pomai (64kg) and Jessy Lilavin (69kg) and in the female division – Vellyn Chee defeated her sister Shahah Chee to win 48kg, Cathleen Basu (60kg) and Leopa Dinelo (63kg).
Gulf won one gold in novice through Patrick Afai (60kg) while in the female division, Marafain Morris (51kg) and Philo Magaiva (54kg) while the rest of the division went to host, Vanimo.
Vanimo Amateur Boxing Association patron and the chairman of the local organising committee Robert Seneve attributed the success of the team to Dick Larry and Joe Aufa for team preparation.
Larry and Aufa represented the PNGBU during the two weeks preparatory work before the championships, and apart from that they have been coaching Vanimo fighters until the championships.
Seneve commended PNGBU for their foresight in bringing the national boxing championships to West Sepik province.
“It is the first time for any sports to bring or hold their championships in West Sepik province, and I must commend former president Lohial Nuau and the in-coming president John Avira for their brave and bold move,” he said.
The patron also expressed sincere appreciation to Deputy Prime Minister and Vanimo-Green MP Belden Namah for backing the boxing championship by securing K150,000 from the National Gaming Control Board.
Namah is current patron of PNG Boxing Union since his appointment four years ago, taking over from his fellow West Sepik parliamentarian Patrick Pruaitch of Aitape-Lumi electorate.
Tournament director Larry thanked all the fighters that who took part in the championships.
He also commended the sponsors for respective teams, Namah for supporting Vanimo, Pruaitch for backing Aitape, Stanley Samban for supporting Wewak, Sam Basil for sponsoring Bulolo and the Gulf provincial administration for supporting Gulf.
Larry said the boxing was inactive last season due to ongoing court cases between PNGBU and a rebel group.
Compounded with the suspension of  Nuau for issues relating to Oceania Boxing Confederation, it has caused a lot of bad reaction through media regarding the sport.
He said Vanimo Boxing Championships would have certainly erased bitter memories of last year and with the election of the new office bearers, PNG Boxing Union has set the sky as the limit.