JAMAICAN BOXING LEGEND DEWITH FRAZER TELLS WHAT IT TAKES
On a breezy night before Treasure Beach’s first boxing tournament, I sat down on the top level of the Sports Park’s new pavilion with none other than Dewith Frazer, the Jamaican-born, phenomenal former Olympian—and coach of the visiting Canadian team.
Dewith might call Canada home, but he’s passionate about escalating boxing in Jamaica: “The last time Jamaica had boxers in the Olympics was 1996—and I’m trying to get the program going for 2016.” He gazed across the railing at kids kicking footballs around and lacing up cleats—and went on, “Jamaica has so much natural talent—but you have to have the resources to foster it. We’ve got to inspire people here.”
As someone with little boxing exposure I asked him what it is that draws people to the violent sport and he looked me in the eye and said, “No one can limit your potential. No one can tell you what you can’t do. There’s no one to save you—you have to be smarter. I became a national champ in Canada in one year. I had 18 fights and my opponent had over 100.”
Dewith insists that anyone can become a fighter, and at his eponymous gym in Toronto, he says only 10% of the clientele are fighters when they arrive. “The most rewarding thing is coaching guys with no support, no confidence. The gym becomes their family, they travel for the first time—and ultimately gain everything they need to do anything they want.”
Small, rural towns are not usually places where possibilities abound. But in Treasure Beach, the Sports Park feels like fertile ground. It’s a place kids are taking to fields and courts for the first time and picking up new equipment—and as match night approached, Dewith could be seen crouching down with shy little kids on the tennis courts again and again, showing them how to punch his palms and start to spar.
We looked up at a few of his boxers shooting pool and he pointed out a guy with deep-set eyes and said, “That’s Josh Wagner. He’s been boxing since he was 14 and he’s 20 now. He’s a champ and he’ll put on a show—he’ll help sell the sport to people who don’t know it. Some of these guys will go to the Olympic games.”
Josh sinks the black ball and the group glances over at their coach. Dewith stands and says, “Once you understand it, boxing is the sweetest science. If you can box, you can dance,” and then with a smile he goes on, “Because if you don’t have rhythm, you’ll get beat up.”
On the night of the tournament, the whole town came out to watch. We saw endless punches, phenomenal strength, clear strategy—and fighters who seemed to glide around the ring, riveting all.
Text: Alison Hess