Navigating access to countries of the third-world often come with sobering reminders that it simply will not always be easy. We have a motivated team, a strong partner, and community interest; however, the formalities of adhering to cultural normality can lead to a sense of purgatory – Unless done right! It is Liberian custom to engage village leaders for permission to proceed with any activity in their respective villages. However, in this context, our objectives ware much broader, and in order to build a program capable of national impact, we needed approval from those way above village leaders. The team awoke early to the sounds of a local rooster, and my outspoken frustration as the Boxing Is Love equipment was delayed once again. That said, a big morning meal was essential, as the day was dedicated to meetings with influential members of the Federal Cabinet. Without governmental support, shipments would continue to be an issue and our growth would never be truly realized. As it turned out, it was well worth the wait.
The meeting consisted of three of the highest ranking elected officials, outside of the executive office. There were two representatives from West Point and VOA townships, whom also held chair positions on the Ministry of Youth & Sport. Both townships are on the agenda for an exhibition and noted as the two most densely populated slum villages in Liberia. Also in attendance was the Hon. Saah Joseph, who is the highest ranking elected official outside of the executive office. His influence both with the president and the entire cabinet will allow for expansion opportunity and national exposure. Further, Hon. Joseph governed the district that consisted on the port – an imperative piece to the puzzle of execution.
As expected the time at the capital building was long, but could not have been more productive. The entire team was given the opportunity to express themselves and their intentions in Liberia, while the Honorables listened with irrevocable interest. Q began with an introduction of the initiatives at Save More Kids and allowed me to introduce the plans for the boxing program. I was able to expand on our mission, and reiterate the impact boxing could have on the youth population of Liberia. The floor was then given to members of the team:
- Ben Amanna, CEO & Founder of BOXRAW, had the opportunity to introduce the intentions of the company and the future Boxing Is Love will have on the Nation.
- Lee Manuel and Coach Mike elaborated on the training vision, their commitment to the country, the goal of producing Olympians, but mostly their first-hand account on the thousands of young people that have already seen transformed through boxing.
- Finally, Freddy took it home with an emotional declaration of his own personal struggle with identity. For the majority of this life, he was “a man without a country” – born in Liberia, he grew up in Germany as an interracial child, and moved to the UK for an opportunity to fight in out of London. With the rich existing boxing culture, he was never quite embraced by the British Boxing Community. His pride and heart belonged to Liberia and emphasized how important it was for him to showcase Liberia to the world.
The meeting concluded with the unanimous support from the federal government. The Honorables applauded our vision, and uttered sentiments of a divine purpose, as they literally stated their prayers were answered. Their final request was directed to Freddy:
“We want you to present Liberia. The Liberian people now know who you are and we proudly support you. As our brother, will you continue to wave the Liberian flag as you enter the ring for your upcoming fights?” Without hesitation, Freddy emotionally responded with a resounded, “Yes!”
(The team applauded with gratitude)