"It is with heartfelt sadness that I extend condolences on behalf of the People’s National Party (PNP) to the family, friends and colleagues of Ben Francis,” said the Opposition Shadow Minister of Gender, Sports and Information, Ms Natalie Neita.
She said, the late former principal of Vere Technical High School, through hard work, sacrifice and commitment; impacted the lives of hundreds of young Jamaicans through his role as a school principal, but more so, through his initiative and emphasis on sports, specifically football and athletics.
Ms Neita said, the life of Ben Francis can be highlighted as an example of the ability of Jamaica and Jamaicans to be continuously dominant at the highest levels on the world stage.
She said, the athletics programme spearheaded and implemented by Ben Francis at Vere Technical, which produced the likes of Merlene Ottey and Veronica Campbell-Brown, is evidence of the need to have coordinated and supported sports programmes throughout our school system to propel our continued dominance in sports on the world stage.
The Opposition Shadow Minister says it is her hope that the school boy football competition, named in honour of Ben Francis, will be continued and strengthened in years to come. “It is also my hope that the Ministry with portfolio responsibility for Sport, in honouring and recognizing the life of Ben Francis, will expand the High School Sports Infrastructure programme to meet the demand of our student athletes adequately by providing proper facilities and resources to harness and enhance the development of their talents,” she continued.
This will no doubt assist in fostering an environment for them to transition to being world class professionals, she said.
The PNP salutes Ben Francis for being a strong positive example to young Jamaicans and urge the authorities to provide the necessary resources to our athletes so that they can build confidence in themselves, maintain discipline and conquer the world.
Legendary Champion, Bunny Grant was hailed as a pioneer by the PNP's Shadow Minister who said “Legendary is what comes to mind when I think about the life and work of George Leslie “Bunny” Grant,” in paying tribute to his passing.
She extended condolences on behalf of the People’s National Party to his family, friends, colleagues, and to the entire boxing fraternity on his death.
The late, great native of Trench Town and Boy’s Town was a trailblazer, who fought his way to fame during a time when such reputation eluded others in the world of boxing. At the heights of his boxing career, he represented the best of the Jamaican athletes in the profession.
Ms Neita said, as a true champion of a man, Bunny Grant fought across various weight classes, starting from featherweight and going up to the light middleweight class.
He won various titles across the Caribbean and the Commonwealth throughout his career, but the most significant to the Jamaican people was his victory over Dave Chamley to secure the Commonwealth Lightweight title inside the national stadium on August 4, 1962, just two days before Jamaica gained independence. The euphoria set-off by his victory became the perfect backdrop to the independence celebration, which ensued after the official ceremony.
Ms Neita said, a proper classification of Bunny Grant’s influence in the field of boxing could only be catalogued as a pioneer, who blazed a trail which resulted in many other Jamaicans following in his footsteps to become champions in boxing on the world stage.
We have lost a legend, but we are comforted that his life’s work and legacy will live on and will act as a testament and motivation for generations to come.
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