Local Boxing – No Longer on the Ropes
Boxing has exploded on the local scene in what many regard as a virtual rebirth of interest and activity, sparked by the staging of the 15-week Wray and Nephew Contender boxing series in 2011. The series, which aired on local television station TVJ, set local fans abuzz as they rooted for their favourite contender, and gave a fillip to the sport which had been on the decline since the 1990s.
The Contender series, which was promoted by MJK Productions and approved by the Jamaica Boxing Board of Control, features 16 middleweight boxers.
The Wray and Nephew Limited-sponsored series was well supported by the public, and was aired on Television Jamaica each Wednesday night beginning January 5, 2011.
The series came to a close at a packed Constant Spring football field on April 27, as an enthusiastic crowd watched Rikardo Smith being crowned the island's new middleweight champion, after scoring a technical knockout over Devon Moncrieffe.
The series winner received a million dollars and the beaten finalist walked away with $500,000. Third prize of $250,000 went to Sakima Mullings and fourth prize of $200,000 went to Tsetsi Davis.
The series marked a new beginning in boxing after the sports suffered a big setback when Desnoes and Geddes pulled its sponsorship in the early 1990s. That company had operated two of the top gyms in the island – the Guinness Gym and the Dragon Gym – but both slowly deteriorated when the company withdrew its funding. Most of the gyms later fell into disrepair.