The sky could be the limit for Contender Series

Saturday, March 29, 2014    

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The television reality boxing show, Wray and Nephew Contender Series, now in its fourth year, is doing what any good enterprise should: growing.

Word came in the build-up to this year's tournament that the title sponsor Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum had entered a strategic partnership with Schweppes grapefruit soda, thereby promoting the combination as an attractive alcoholic beverage.

That's good business in any language.

Then there was news that boxers from the wider Caribbean and Guyana have been invited to compete against Jamaicans in the boxing extravaganza.

And further that prize money had increased with the top prize moving from $1 million to $2 million.

The impact of including boxers from the wider region has been immediately clear on the first two nights of the 2014 competition with the standard at this early stage visibly higher than it was in previous years.

Indeed, this newspaper was moved to point out in this space last year, the dangers of having competitors in the Contender Series who were visibly ill-equipped for a boxing ring.

The available evidence thus far suggests that shortcoming has been corrected by organisers.

We were particularly impressed by last Wednesday night's contest between Mr Richard Holmes of Jamaica and Guyana's Mr Gladwin Dorway.

Both men showed reasonable technique not just in terms of throwing punches but just as importantly taking evasive action. There was also plenty of heart and courage in an excruciatingly close contest. In the end, perceived harder punches by Mr Holmes swayed the judges in a majority decision.

Contests of such quality going forward will inevitably make the televised product even more of an anticipated spectacle than it already is.

And as the Contender Series reignites interest in the 'sweet science' of boxing among the very young, such contests will make life easier for coaches and instructors tasked with the job of imparting knowledge of the 'dos' and 'don'ts'.

We feel that with the inspiration of the Wray and Nephew Contender Series Jamaican boxing can return to the glory days such as in the 1980s when the peerless Mr Michael McCallum, et al paraded their skills. We shouldn't, of course, forget the 1960s when that wonderful artist, Mr Bunny Grant, became among the most loved and admired of Jamaican sports personalities.

Finally, as sponsors and organisers of the Contender Series look to build on their product, thought should be given, we think, to the series becoming, over time, an accredited and recognised Caribbean tournament with region-wide television coverage to match.

After that, who knows? A global television audience could be the limit.





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