Grant, Jones trade jabs about coaching opportunities

December 03, 2020
Coach Carl Grant congratulates Bruising Gym boxer Richard ‘Frog’ Holmes after a win over Frank Cotroni in the Wray and Nephew ‘Contender’ boxing series in  June  2017.
Coach Carl Grant congratulates Bruising Gym boxer Richard ‘Frog’ Holmes after a win over Frank Cotroni in the Wray and Nephew ‘Contender’ boxing series in June 2017.

Bruising Gym founder and boxing coach Carl Grant says he will close the Stony Hill, St Andrew-based facility.

This is because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also because he feels he is being marginalised for national duties by Jamaica Boxing Board (JBB) President Stephen 'Bomber' Jones and General Secretary Leroy Brown.

"COVID has come in and because of all the protocols and social distancing, we cooled off the gym," Grant said. "But I am doing well and I don't have to think about boxing, so it was easy for me not to open back. But I am tired of Mr 'Bomber' Jones and Leroy Brown."

Grant mentioned his many national titles won as a coach, his three-star coaching qualification, and that he is the only local coach at this level, which automatically qualifies him for national duties, based on International Boxing Association (AIBA) regulations. But he says coaches with far less qualification are getting more opportunities.

"In 10 years, we have won the National Championships six times and came second three times," he said. "So Bruising Gym was not just a little number, we were a force to be reckoned with.

"JDF [Gym] has no boxers on the [national team for Olympic Games qualifiers], Stanley Couch [Gym] has one, and G.C. Foster [Gym] has two. But yet still, it is the JDF coach (Corporal Gilbert Vaz) that is the national coach, and he is a one-star coach."

Other criteria required

But Jones refutes Grant's claims, pointing out that the rule, which requires a three-star coach to be in the ring for international fights, was changed by AIBA years ago. He says that holding a three-star badge does not guarantee any coach a job with the national team, as there are other criteria required by the JBB.

"It doesn't mean that because you have the badge you are the most qualified coach," Jones said. "We have our coaches and we give them opportunities to be a part of the boxing fraternity.

"If we no longer think they represent the best choice to lead the national team, then they won't get the chance to lead."

Jones said instilling discipline in the boxers and showing respect to the sport are other important requirements. He also mentioned that Grant has led national teams in the past, but the results were not satisfactory.

"If it is that the criteria are not being met in terms of discipline and results, then we will look for others," Jones said. "Right now, coach Vaz is doing well. He has gotten results, whether it is Pan Am, Caribbean championships or high school. We have come back with more medals than ever and we were about to field the best team for an Olympics, and that is based on the discipline that has been charged by the national coaches at the helm," he said.

"We go by the results, and many times Mr Grant has gone away and come back without even a win, so compare that to where we are now and what we are doing.

"But the sport is bigger than any coach or any athlete, and we have to stick with the coaches the athletes respond to best," he reasoned.

Jones said the closing of the Bruising Gym will leave a void in the development and exposure of boxers in the region. But he believes the gym may just be short of boxers to keep it going.

Bruising Gym is noted for producing boxers such as Richard 'Frog' Holmes, Sakima 'Mr Smooth' Mullings, Michael 'Wasp' Gardner, Kesna Davis, and up comers Omar Campbell and Sanjay Williams.

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