Jamaican Michael Gardener, representing the Caribbean team in the Wray and Nephew Contender 2016 Series, makes his debut as a professional boxer tonight. Gardener will face USA boxer José Guzman, over five rounds in the fifth week of competition at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium. Fight time is 9.30 p.m. and the contest will be broadcast live on Television Jamaica. Last week the series heated up considerably when Guyanese boxer Revlon Lake fought a bruising battle against Anthony Woods from The Bahamas to take a majority decision, and tonight’s fight promises to be in the same vein. The 22 year-old Gardener is faced with a huge task, in this his debut, but he and his camp have stated that they are very confident of victory, despite the fact that Guzman, who is 27, is a seasoned professional with 20 fights on his rÈsumÈ. It is not an impressive one, as he has won six, lost 13, and had one draw, but the fact is that he has been a professional since 2006. He last fought on March 5, losing to John Hernandez in New York over six rounds. Gardener has been one of Jamaica’s best amateur boxers and has been a champion in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions. He has represented Jamaica in overseas competitions several times and is known to be a hard-hitting boxer. His major fault as an amateur was that being primarily a counter-puncher, he had the tendency to react and fight back rather than lead and be aggressive. As a result, he was usually coming from behind, and in a three-round fight, he therefore, found himself in trouble on several occasions. Over five rounds, he has some more time, but he still cannot afford to lose the early rounds as catching up would be difficult. The tactics that he uses tonight will be very important if he is to make a successful debut. He has good punching power, but his opponent, who was born in Puerto Rico and who has been living in the Bronx, New York, for some time, is quite likely to be very aggressive, so the ingredients are there for an exciting contest. The winner tonight moves into the quarter-final, and will be one step closer to the Contender 2016 title and first prize of $2million. The runner-up takes home $500,000, third place $250,000 and fourth place $200,000. In the next stage of the competition, the boxers will still challenge each other over five rounds, but the semi-finals will be over seven rounds, and the final in July will be a 10-round contest.
At the end of three months my search for Asata directed me to Newport Street, in the heart of Monrovia. My informant said he was sure as day followed night. “I saw her there,” he said, grinning, “you’ll not believe how pretty she now look.” My face danced with joy, and clearly I could not control my emotions. I said, “Is she a real beauty as you’ve said?” Gbessay laughed, and corked his head on one side, said, “I tell you she is some beauty.” “Tell me more about her,” I said, as the thought of Asata danced in my mind with anticipation, “be frank with me, and do me the favor.” Gbessay was sixteen when I was bubbling with love for Asata. Now twenty-two, he had grown up, and was someone I could believe. He said, “I know you’ve been searching for her,” and hesitated for a moment, and I did not disappoint him, when I said, “I’ve been here,” meaning Vai Town, just across from Monrovia, “on the last three months and only you now telling me where I can find her.” “We talked about you,” he said, smiling, “When she could not hear from you, maybe she thought you died like many others.” I could not blame her, for thinking the worst for me; many young men were killed as the Liberian war held on. “Is a wonder,” I said, with some dignity, “that many of us survived this war.” “I know,” Gbessay said, “Asata will be glad to see you,” then I felt some inner dissatisfaction. Was Gbessay, like many Christian people, speaking in tongue? This could not be happening. “You’re not hiding anything from me, Gbessay?” “Tony,” he told me, “you must believe what I’m telling you.” So, I said, “What are you telling me?” He said, “Follow my direction and right after the huge building on Newport Street, after the school you’ll find her, or ask for her.” I told him how great he was, and that I appreciated his help, and bid him goodbye. Thirty minutes later, I was on Newport Street, and having passed by the school Gbessay mentioned, I slowed down, and walked leisurely, whistling to myself. Suddenly, my steps lost their agility. I then crossed the road toward Asata’s residence. At first my eyes deceived me, refusing to accept Asata, who seemed to be busy, at the corner of an old brick house. Her lanky frame hovered over the side of the road where a young man was putting some woods at their place. The sun beat hard on me, and several people walked about the place. Then, like a dream, I saw an old woman standing at the corner, near Asata, pointing her finger at me. I could not recognize Hadja at first, for the years of the civil-war had had a telling effect on her and had changed her, reducing her to a bundle of human caricature in a packaged cloth from her head to her toes. She might have run from this place and to another place, and as frail as she was, I knew she could not live through it. But she did. Hadja, her title, meant she was one of the fortunate ones who had fulfilled their religious duty, and had visited the holy city of Mecca, the birth place of the Prophet Muhammad. Hadja was highly respected in the community because of that success, and though she had encouraged me to visit the mosque, I never took it with any seriousness. As a woman with deep faith, she wanted her daughter, Asata, to marry someone who would follow her footsteps, and worship Allah, as she had been brought up. But now it would appear that my failure to attend services at the mosque, and the coming of the unfortunate civil-war had all conspired to deny me the woman I had once dreamed of having as a wife and the future mother of my children. As I moved closer to the house that I had been told Asata now lived, my heart bubbled with anticipation, imagining what she would say to me. In my heart, I was preparing to rush at her and hug her, and give thanks to Allah for preserving her. On my right, near a string of houses was a young beauty, busily engaged in some chores, her lanky frame revealing to me that she might have been the object of my search. Her hair was braided, the attachment flowing on her back and over her face. She was my Asata, I was now convinced, watching her closely, but my mind deceived me, suggesting she could be someone else, for Asata, though was tall, could not be the woman I feeding my eyes on presently. Was this Asata? How she had changed so much and more beautiful now! My heart thumbed in my chest as my feet walked their way towards the house. Since the information about her present residence did not hint about any changes in her life-style, I did not suspect any untoward surprise. But when I saw the old woman pointing her finger at me, something in me suggested right away that something was afoot. What was it? I did not care, all I cared about was searching for my Asata, and turning my head to look at heaven, I said a silent prayer, begging the good old man above to show me the way. By now I was almost at the entrance of the house, and the old woman smiled, and it was a painful one. She rubbed her two hands together, and when I turned to look on my right, the young woman turned swiftly, and smiled at me. “Oh my God,” I yelled in my heart, and smiled back at her. “You found me,” she said, and dimples on either jaw on her face did not mislead me, I concluded she was my Asata. But it seemed that something was not right with her. Under her smile I sensed her pain of anguish which was visible on her face, and it was the kind of loss, which eventually was to be mine alone. She turned her head and regarded at the man engrossed in his work, and nodded. Under normal circumstances, I would have wept, beat my chest and looked up to heaven, asking God why should I lose, but I was calm. She began to explain her eventual journey into marriage with the man who had replaced me. “I did not know whether you survived the war,” she said, her eyes downcast, “my ma is old now,” pointing to Hadja, “and so…” her voice trailed off, and I felt sorry for myself, for what she was about to disclose to me. I mustered a little courage, and said, my hands shaking like a car with an idling engine, “So you have to get married?” The question taunted me, and unable to control my emotions, I went on, “I searched for you everywhere,” as if that was enough justification. She looked away, and smiled. It was a smile I had known long before the Liberian civil-war began on 24 December, 1989. “I have to marry,” she said, and it was enough for me, for what else could she say again? Then fragments of the most touching melody intruded into my mind, and I could hear the song, “How Lonely Are Those Who Are Disappointed,” in my ears. But interestingly, I was aware of the popular opinion that “every misfortune is a blessing,” that I would have to work with to ensure how true it was. “So,” I managed, after struggling to regain my bearings, to say, “you can no longer be mine?” She might have thought my question silly, though the answer was obvious. What was I expecting her to do now, marry two men? I bowed my head in agreement, and with trembling hands, stared at her in silence. The echo of passing breeze swept around us, and I fought hard not to give in to tears.She turned her back to me, and looked at Hadja, whose smile was full of what I could only understand as resentment, since her daughter had already been married. Though she knew how much I loved Asata, but with new circumstances in her daughter’s life, she might have wondered about my appearance since until life turned upside down, Asata made her to believe I was the only man in her life. I could not be angry with her, for I admitted with a great deal of reluctance that while I was gone, time did not wait for me. “I’ll miss you, Asata,” I heard my voice crying out in anguish, as if that was not an obvious result, particularly when I realized that a tear was threatening to expose my weakness. I then turned my face away from her, and decided to leave her in peace. Painfully, my legs responded, and ambled away from her. She shouted at me: “I’ll not forget you,” but what should I care? I was moving on, though let down, beaten and crushed. Few minutes later I knew the danger had come and the risk was gone. My eyes felt tired, and at one point I wanted to cry. It was a difficult situation for me, walking away from Asata, the young woman whose fascination had brought me such an unexpected torment. Her cool voice kept repeating itself in my ears, “I tried to find you and when I could not find you, my ma advised me to find happiness somewhere,” and though the verdict was cruel, I could not blame her for what she had done. I felt nauseous, but my inner feeling urged me on to accept it, for it was clear that I had lost the battle. “I’m married now, sorry,” came back to haunt me. The afternoon sun beat harder on me, as if it was a divine punishment for my past bad deeds. As I moved on, the world seemed to be passing by me in a rush and by now my breathing had slowed down suddenly.Meanwhile, I wanted to stand aside somewhere on Newport Street, and gaze at her, and drink in her beauty, but I decided it was too late that, for to fight a losing battle war would demand more than ordinary tears of disappointment and frustration. Though I had a great deal of love for her, the reality was that she on the other hand had no affection for me. Afterward, I believed the popular maxim that “out of sight, out of mind.” My mind posed a surreal question to me, asking, “For what purpose?” and I could not find within myself to answer it. A glacial pang of pain hit my side, like the stab of a dagger of ice frozen from a poisoned well. My body was becoming adjusted to the message of doom as I heard it. I asked myself, “Is she happy?” and my mind answered, “If she is not happy she would not have told you that she was married,” a response that was ominous like the message Asata delivered to me. It was like a shuffling compromise between defiance and prostration, and walking away towards the bus or taxi rank, what appeared like stars danced before me. I was seeing things double, and I knew that Asata was gone for good. I felt her loss, but then I reminded myself that it was merely the loss of another chapter in my life. “I’ll move on,” I said under my breath, admitting the truth that I had lost her forever.It was then that I made a resolution not to let things take me by surprise, though events leading to the loss of Asata were things I could not control and they were reasons for which I could not hold her responsible. It had been many years now since that experience and realizing that life is how one makes it; I am not taking any chances now. Though the memory of Asata had always come to haunt me, I made use of it, as a new chapter in my life directing my focus to strike when the iron is hot.The EndShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
By Art Marroquin STAFF WRITER Coastal winds and choppy waters kept rescue teams busy aiding passengers aboard about a dozen distressed boats off the South Bay coast Friday, including a schooner with 35 children on board. At least two vessels took on water, while seasick passengers and inexperienced captains required assistance on other boats, according to authorities. Although wreaking havoc at sea, the winds caused few problems on land aside from the occasional downed tree and dust storm. Today is expected to be more calm. The children – along with seven adults – were rescued from the 130-foot schooner that took on 18inches of water when a seam burst about 7 miles offshore San Pedro, authorities said. The American Pride was returning from a five-day educational excursion to Catalina Island, according to Helen Clinton, executive director of the Yorba Linda-based Children’s Maritime Foundation, which operates the ship. “The weather just got the best of us,” said boat Capt. Greg Clinton after the boat safely reached land. “But the kids seemed to be loving it. They were whooping and hollering, and fortunately nobody was injured.” Another tall-masted ship apparently stopped and passed along a water pump to assist the American Pride, according to Capt. Manny Aschemeyer, executive director of the Marine Exchange of California. Escorted into Long Beach by a contingent of fire boats, Coast Guard cutters and news helicopters, the ship made its way safely back to Rainbow Harbor around 2:30 p.m. – nearly two hours after the initial call for assistance. The vessel was able to power itself back to shore. “A few people probably lost their lunch, but considering the danger, it ended well,” Long Beach Fire Department spokesman Will Nash said. The ship will likely be dry-docked while it undergoes repairs, Helen Clinton said. In a separate incident a short time later, rescuers from Baywatch Avalon and the U.S. Coast Guard oversaw efforts to save two people aboard a 23-foot sailboat that was also taking on water about 16 miles south of the Port of Los Angeles, Munoz said. The boat, which had lost contact for some time with rescuers, was traveling on its own power and returned to Long Beach later in the afternoon, Munoz said. No injuries were reported. By midafternoon county lifeguards had responded to about a dozen other distress calls. “People get out there, they exceed their level of expectations and they encounter some real rough seas,” said lifeguard Chief Mickey Gallagher. “They panic more than anything and they don’t know what to do.” Making matters worse, many inexperienced boaters had set sail for Catalina to take part in the annual Buccaneer Days pirate festival at the Isthmus, which drew more than 7,000 revelers last year. Conditions seemed benign at the mainland, Gallagher said, but boaters encountered winds of 30 mph about 3 to 4 miles offshore. Gallagher described the conditions as “real rough,” causing boaters to become seasick as water crashed over their vessels. “It’s like you are in a washing machine slopping back and forth,” he said. Meanwhile, at the Redondo Beach Yacht Club, a group of sailors’ dreams of attending the pirate party Friday night were dashed by the white water whipping up in the channel. “It’s totally gnarly out there,” said Wes Houston, owner of South Bay Sailing in Redondo Beach. “Everyone is just sitting here waiting for the weather to break so they can go to Catalina,” he said. “Usually there would be droves going out there – especially on a holiday weekend like this, but everyone I know was smart enough not to sail today.” Two Harbors resident Chris Peterson described the festival’s epicenter as being filled with anchored boats with masts swinging violently. “The wind is whipping around town and dust is blowing everywhere, but there’s still a bunch of pirates here having a good time anyway,” Peterson said. “I bet there’s a lot of pirates stuck on the mainland wishing they would have left on Thursday.” Elsewhere, lifeguards joined Coast Guard officers in towing boats back to Marina del Rey, Redondo Beach and San Pedro harbors. No one needed treatment for any injuries. No boats sank, but a large sailboat off Malibu lost its steering and required a tow to Marina del Rey. High winds also downed a 60-foot tree in Harbor Gateway at 3 p.m. on 190th Street east of Western Avenue. Winds reached 30 mph with gusts reaching up to 40 mph, said Ken Clark, a senior meteorologist at Accuweather. Accuweather and the National Weather Service said the winds were caused by a fast-moving low-pressure system traveling down the coast from Alaska. “The good news is this is kind of a one-day event,” Clark said. Winds will die down and temperatures will warm up this weekend as a high-pressure system moves in. As of late Friday, Southern California Edison had not received reports of power outages related to the wind, spokesman Gil Alexander said. The Goodyear blimp stayed tethered in Carson all day, despite a scheduled trip to Pasadena as a test run for today’s UCLA football game against Notre Dame. But Bob Urhausen, the airship public relations manager, said that’s not unusual. Utility companies reported no damage in the South Bay, but a resident near Knoll Hill in San Pedro said the afternoon wind kicked up a significant dust storm on the hill overlooking Los Angeles Harbor, sending dirt and debris into nearby homes through windowsill cracks. As for the young passengers on the American Pride, school administrators ordered them to avoid speaking to the media, although several gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up as they marched off the ship and onto chartered buses. Staff writers Larry Altman, Megan Bagdonas, Paul Eakins, Laura E. Davis, Kristopher Hanson and Donna Littlejohn contributed to this article. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!