Showtime in Paradise!
By David Pascal
There was the Thriller in Manila and Rumble in the Jungle. Now get ready for Showtime in Paradise this November, right here at the Beausejour Cricket Ground, courtesy of Showtime Sports.
This will be big time boxing never before seen in St Lucia. The official announcement was made at a press conference Tuesday afternoon at Bay Gardens Beach Resort. Special guests include Minister of Tourism, Allen Chastanet; Chairman of the St Lucia Tourist Board, Laurie Barnard; Director of Tourism, Maria Fowell; world renowned Boxing Promoter, Dan Goosen; and President of the St Lucia Amateur Boxing Association (SLABA), Joseph “Reds” Perreira.
Goosen who was accompanied by his family, may well be the white version of Don King when it comes to hype. He said all the right things in regards to promoting St Lucia not just as a boxing venue, but a prime tourism destination. “We are really ecstatic and excited about bring professional boxing to St Lucia,” said Goosen. The overwhelming support we have not only from the tourist board and when speaking to everyone here about doing an event of this magnitude there is a lot of excitement here.”
Goosen who is the President of Goosen Tutor Promotions, has been a promoter for over 25 years. He discovered and managed the career of bouncer-turned-actor Mr T and guided the careers of several young boxers who went on to become well-known and respected World Champions. The list includes Michael “Second to” Nunn, “Terrible” Terry Norris and the Ruelas brothers, Gabriel and Rafael. His achievements include being named WBA Promoter of the Year (2001). He is the first and only person (and probably the last) in the United States to ever hold a boxing manager’s and promoter’s license simultaneously in the 1980’s. In 1999, Goosen was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame.
How did the St Lucia connection come about? Chastanet was invited by Goosen to Las Vegas for the De La Hoya / Mayweather bout, where he met several boxing officials. That started the ball rolling. Chastanet and Minister of Sports, Lenard Montoute, are eager to utilize the BCG for other sports besides cricket and are worked together to bring big time boxing to the island. “Coming up with boxing really solves two problems for us,” said the Tourism Minister. “It gave us another avenue to promote this destination and the great thing about boxing is it generates a lot of electricity.”
For Chastanet the timing for the November 16 boxing match couldn’t be better. The day before is the inauguration of the American Airlines flight starting out of New York. The Minister is on cloud nine just thinking about the possibilities and could hardly contain his enthusiasm at the press conference. “We are going to be able to combine these two events to really make this a massive launch for American Airlines,” he said.
Given the fact St Lucia is expanding its tourism product with the opening of several new resorts like Cotton Bay, Landings, Discovery later this year, Chastanet feels St Lucia is being transformed into a major tourist attraction and will not be perceived as a romantic sleepy destination but an exciting one. He feels that over the next few years, boxing will become very meaningful in helping that message get out.
The financial commitment for this boxing match is for one year, however, Chastanet was quick to point out that the moral commitment is for a much longer term. The thought process here is to build up for a World Championship bout in St Lucia. For the first couple of years there will be championship bouts here but not for a World title. Having big time bouts here is not only good for the tourism product. It should also benefit the SLABA. Chastanet feels it will give young boxers the opportunity to meet and interact with professional boxers and possibly have them take part or observe training sessions.
Perreira who is president of the SLABA knows the significant impact of big time boxing in the Caribbean. He was one of the commentators in Jamaica for the championship bout between George Foreman and Joe Frazier. He is looking forward to November 16 and said, “it will be a proud night for St Lucia and the Caribbean, because Showtime is a major organization and some 35 million homes are expected to tune in for the event.” Perreira feels this mega event is full of positives for the SLABA and will serve as a major vehicle for attracting more youngsters to the sport.
Caption: Minister of Tourism Allen Chastanet (l) and Boxing Promoter Dan Gossen during a friendly exchange at Tuesday’s press conference at Bay Gardens Beach Resort