Andre Lambe received a first-round bye at the Central American and Caribbean Games qualifiers in Tijuana, Mexico.
His Bermuda team-mate, Tyler Christopher, also of Forty Rego’s Gym, was pitted against Luis Hernandez of Panama at the competition, which starts today.
Both southpaws are hoping to qualify for this summer’s CAC Games in Barranquilla, Colombia — one of two remaining opportunities to qualify for the 20202 Olympic Games in Tokyo, along with the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, next year.
Just days before the competition it was doubtful whether the pair would make the trip to Tijuana after the International Olympic Committee suspended all funding for the crisis-hit International Boxing Association.
It meant the Bermuda Olympic Association had no choice but to pull funding from the Bermuda Boxing Federation, which subsequently appealed to the community to assist helping cover the costs of the team’s travel.
Nathan Dill, the BBF president, said: “Our commitment to our athletes was to not allow funding to be their concern and have them focus on their training and preparation.
“It was a tough and anxious battle, but I am most relieved and grateful at the outcome and encouraged by such an outpouring of community support.
“We are thankful and relieved that with the generous support of Teachers Rugby Football Club, The Doghouse and Arnold’s Markets our team was able to take the first step in qualifying for the Olympics.”
Dill added: “TRFC is a long time boxing supporter and had carried the sport for years with their successful annual boxing nights.
“Mr Frank Arnold attends each and every boxing night and has heavily invested particularly in the success of Andre Lambe. I admire their commitment to allowing the team to grow to their highest potential with this appearance and thank them for pledging to make this dream a reality. We literally felt as if we were out of options to get Andre and Tyler off the island.”
The pair are hoping to emulate Olympians Clarence Hill, Roy Johnson, Robert Burgess and Quinn Paynter by reaching the Tokyo Games. Boxing is the only sport to have put Bermuda on the Olympic map, with heavyweight Hill winning bronze at the Montreal Games in 1976.
Boxing, however, could be excluded from the Tokyo Games, with the IOC shelving all Olympic Solidarity boxing-related activities until further notice because of concerns surrounding AIBA’s long-term governance problems.
For more information about the BBF youth programmes, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.