By Boxing Bob Newman
Photos: Boxing Bob Newman
The second WBC Night of Champions kicked off yesterday in Cardiff, Wales with the official champions group photo at Cardiff Castle. Just as was the case at the inaugural event four years ago in Cancun, Mexico, the assembled champions gathered for a group shot, this time at this nearly two thousand year old site. Some of the local greats from Wales and England on hand were Terry Marsh (IBF 140 lbs.), Colin Jones (British, Commonwealth & European 147lbs.), Alan Rudkin (British, Commonwealth & European 118 lbs.), Alan Minter (World 160 lbs.), as well as international stars of the past Carlos Zarate, Alfonso Zamora, Yuri Arbachakov, Jeff Harding, George Chuvalo, and many more.
Afterward, a lunch was served at the Castle banquet hall for all champions and invited guests.
Later in the afternoon, World Boxing Cares visited hospitals and gyms in the area to spread some cheer to sick and underprivileged children.
The WBC Night of Champions international boxing festival is not just a ‘mega-reunion’, but has serious charitable objectives, raising funds for the Noah’s Ark Appeal, the official charity for the Children’s Hospital for Wales, and to support the creation of a legacy social project designed to use Boxing as a way of helping young offenders and disadvantaged youth develop structure and purpose to their lives.
WBC Executive Secretary Mauricio Sulaiman said: “The WBC believes it is vital to use its global influence to reach out across the world to help disenfranchised youth and children suffering illness. We have programs across the world through which our members and ambassadors help those in need in local communities.
“Many of the greatest boxing champions, and those in Cardiff with us today, grew up in difficult circumstances, and so it is always a pleasure for them to have the opportunity to give something back; to use their status as a way of raising awareness of social and health issues; and to provide young people with role models to follow.”
In the UK, the WBC’s community engagement programs are run by ‘WBC Sporting Chances’. Sporting programs are delivered with the help of British former world champions and boxing ambassadors, providing positive roles models to show young people there are better ways and help them to make a positive change in their lives.
WBC Sporting Chances Director Mervyn Turner said: “Boxing has always been a great sport for delivering community engagement programs because of the Discipline and Dedication it requires. This has been particularly true with young offenders, who have been given a chance to turn their lives around and become a useful and contributing member of society who may otherwise take up less fruitful activities.
“Through WBC Sporting Chances young people with histories of serious crimes can take part in a program of sporting activity intended to help them break their violent and anti-social behavior, discover the benefits of engaging in conventional sporting achievement and to stop offending. Given the opportunity most young people would like to make a positive change in their lives, and we strongly believe that ‘Everyone deserves a sporting chance.’”
Welcoming the new initiative to help manage young offenders, Cardiff Council Deputy Leader, Cllr Neil McAvoy, said:
“People have their own views on boxing, but there is no denying the sport’s beneficial impact on many young people, teaching them discipline, respect and leading a healthy lifestyle. Far better they expend their natural energy in a ring than on the streets, developing life and work skills alongside their boxing talents.
“We should take the best traditions of the past and shape them to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Boxing is proven to be the most effective sport in helping many young people back on the path of leading successful, satisfying lives.”
Community visits were conducted by boxing legends at:
The Childrens Hospital for Wales, University Hospital , Cardiff
Visited by World Champions, Iran Barkley, Sharon Anyos, Cecilia Braekhus, Ann Marie Saccurato, Juan La Porte
Ely( Highfields) Amateur Boxing Club, and Tiger Bay Amateur Boxing Club, Fairwater, run by former GB Middleweight Champion, Pat Thomas
Visited by British World Champions Junior Witter and Jane Couch MBE, and American Heavyweights Earnie Shavers and Shannon Briggs.
Llanrumney Amateur Boxing Club, and Llanedyrn High School boxing Gym
Officially opened in June 2010 by Nathan Cleverly, (British, European and Commonwealth Light Heavyweight champion), the Llanrumeny club is situated in a deprived area of East Cardiff. In late 2008 a group of local people, led by local Councilors, the Llanrumney Community Forum, Sport Cardiff, Neighborhood Regeneration, Cardiff Youth Service, the Welsh Amateur Boxing Association, and a band of hard working volunteers from the community identified an unused building and raised over $45,000, creating an investment that will have a positive impact on the community of Llanrumney for many years to come.
They were visited by Jesse James Leija, James “Bonecrusher” Smith and Miguel Angel Gonzalez.
The first night at the Cardiff International Arena, a red carpet event will take place as the world premiere of “Risen – The Howard Winstone Story,” will take place. Winstone, a native Welsh son won the WBC Featherweight title in 1968, despite losing the tips of three fingers as a young man in an industrial accident.