By Lara Pickford-Gordon
Fifteen-year-old Paul Matthew Newallo, a Form Four student at St Benedict’s College (SBC), La Romaine, earned gold as part of the four member Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) contingent which competed the St Lucia Boxing Association Champions of Champions April 21–22 at the Vigie Multipurpose Complex.
T&T won three gold and one bronze medal after facing competitors from Guyana, Barbados, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St Lucia.
Paul is a member of SBC boxing team and has two years’ experience boxing. He is coached by Vicki Boodram, one of T&T’s senior boxing coaches. She is SBC’s boxing coach.
The Catholic News found out what it took to win gold.
Boodram said the National Junior and Youth Boxing teams were in a training camp during the Easter school break preparing for the competition. The teams were “exposed to a very regimented training regime. The boxer’s day started at 5 a.m. where the focus was on strength and aerobic conditioning. On the afternoon, work was sport specific and the athletes were subjected to extensive school combat, school boxing, sparring and bag works.”
Paul’s aerobic conditioning took place in the pool with his father, National Swim Coach Paul Newallo Snr, who also accompanied him to the gym for strength training.
Mondays to Fridays after school, he trained at the Cosmic Boxing Gym, Marabella. On Saturdays, members of boxing gyms throughout the country gather at Cosmic Gym for sparring.
Paul is grateful to God for blessing him with health, strength and providing the support needed. He is thankful to his parents/coaches for the sacrifices and commitment made daily for him. He is also grateful to the Trinidad and Tobago Boxing Association, for providing the opportunities for his participation in competitions locally and regionally.
Paul is pleased with his performance in St Lucia against Jack Surage in the final of the 70kg super welterweight class. He sees the win as the beginning of a long journey and is focused on the Continental Junior Boxing Championship scheduled for August in Colombia, and the World Junior Boxing Championship in November in Mexico.
Paul is a multi-sport athlete competing in swimming and boxing for his school. He won first and third place trophies at the Secondary Schools Swimming Championships in January.
Asked about the policy for the involvement of teens in such a high contact sport, Boodram stated: “IBA’s (International Boxing Association) rules ensure that athletes compete only against individuals in their respective age groups and weight categories. Referee/judges are trained to ensure athletes’ safety in the ring, so at no time a youngster should be hurt in the ring.”
The Catholic News was informed by a school official that students are required to have safety equipment for training and competition—a mouth guard, groin cup, boxing gloves and head gear, and proper training was important for safety.