Guyana’s Forgotten Youth Foundation represents at the Tokyo Summer Olympics

Above: Keevin Allicock (left) alongside his coach Sebert Blake.

Updated: July 7th, 2021

The Forgotten Youth Foundation, a different kind of boxing club with a social mission at its core, will be represented at the Olympics for the first time ever this July-August in Tokyo. Repping Guyana and the FYF will be rising star Keevin Allicock, a remarkable young bantamweight fighter well-known to Guyanese boxing fans and followers of The Good Fight.

Guyana, a nation of less than 800,000 people with long-standing problems of poverty and bad government, is always at a disadvantage when it comes to sending athletes to the Olympics. Allicock will be the first Guyanese boxer to attend the Olympics in 25 years. The last time Guyana won an Olympic medal in boxing was in Moscow in 1980, when another Bantamweight, Mike Parris, took home the Bronze. Parris went on to have an impressive professional career from 1982 to 1995.

Allicock, along with Colin Lewis, Desmond Amsterdam, and Dennis Thomas, were originally scheduled to fight at the Olympic Qualifiers in Argentina this past March-April, before the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Allicock was selected for the Olympics when he became the only Guyanese featured in the latest world rankings released by the International Boxing Association (AIBA), ranked 19th in the Bantamweight division.

The Forgotten Youth Foundation was established in 1998 by former boxer and boxing promoter Keith Bassilio, in a partnership with veteran coaches Winstel Thomas and Desmond ‘Fat Boy’ Callendar. Located in the neighborhood of Albouystown, which has traditionally been stigmatized as one of Georgetown’s most dangerous slums, the non-profit FYF stands out from other boxing gyms by the social mission at its core. The FYF operates on the belief that boxing can serve as an important tool in the positive development of marginalized youth, and that boxing clubs and coaches can play a role as spokespersons and advocates for their community. Under the guidance of coaches Sebert Blake and Joseph Murray, the FYF equips boys, girls, young men and young women with the discipline, work ethic and confidence necessary to succeed in a life fraught with challenges, in addition to promoting physical mastery and self-defence. While the FYF is a proper boxing club and has produced a remarkable number of national, regional, and world champions, at its forefront are its goals of youth development and empowerment, and providing an alternative to the lure of drugs and gangs. Since its founding in 1998, the FYF has produced a number of exceptional fighters who have made their mark on the national and international stage, including one-time WIBA world bantamweight champion Shondell ‘Mystery Lady’ Alfred, and former WBC Cruiserweight champion Wayne ‘Big Truck’ Braithwaite.

22-year-old Keevin Allicock is the FYF’s newest prodigy, having previously taken home a silver medal at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games in The Bahamas, and prior to that being awarded Best Youth Boxer in Guyana after dominating a 2015 national under-16 tournament. His preparation for the Tokyo Summer Olympics has included a three-month training stint in Cuba. Boxing has long been one of the fields in which Cuba and Guyana cooperate under the banner of Caribbean unity and solidarity.

The 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics have seen changes to the system of weight classes, a source of some debate among boxing fans. The number of weight classes for men was reduced from ten to eight, by axing events at light-flyweight, bantamweight, and light-welterweight, while adding a featherweight class. The women’s weight classes were expanded from three to five, by introducing a featherweight and welterweight category.

Under the new system, Allicock will be fighting in the featherweight division (52-57kg). His first fight will be the July 24 preliminaries at Kokugikan Arena at 7pm (6am EST), where he’ll face Alex Miguel de la Cruz Baez of the Dominican Republic.

   

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