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Nerve-wracking win for Jamaica
Ainsley Walters, Freelance Writer
JAMAICA'S COMBINED martial arts team on Thursday night pulled off a nerve-wracking and controversial overtime victory against world International Taekwon-do Federation (ITF) champions Argentina to successfully defend their Busta World Continental Team Fighting title at the US Open in Orlando, Florida.
Heavyweight Kenneth Edwards secured victory for Jamaica, attacking team gold and individual silver medallist from Quebec 2007 World Championship, Jonathan Batista, from the word go, much to the disappointment of Argentine coach Pablo Ferreiro, who was left fuming after Arthur Barrows pulled Jamaica from the jaws of defeat in the fifth bout to force overtime.
Barrows, who battled world team champion Leandro Money, went in with Jamaica trailing in the five-man contest after another world champion, middleweight Denis 'The Dog' Turnes, beat Pan-Am lightweight title-holder Nicholas Dussard.
The veteran Barrows drew on all his experience to keep a safe distance from the powerful Money, while landing points in a controversial bout, which forced Canadian umpire Kurt Ottesen to warn not only the Argentine coach but sections of the Jamaican contingent, numbering 70 athletes and spectators.
Edwards' victory over Batista, who had earlier beaten Shawn Cummings in the fourth bout, resulted in an outpouring of emotions from the Jamaican contingent.
The Jamaicans were happy for the luck of the draw, avoiding the first round, but the increased competition in the five-team contest, from their second-round rivals, European champions Germany, and world champions Argentina, shocked the combined team, which had waltzed to victory last year over Britain, the United States and New Zealand.
Even captain Jason McKay, who had boldly declared, "I have a plan', before leaving Jamaica, was taken aback after seeing some of his best fighters go down against the Germans and Argentines.
Jamaica thought they were on easy street after drawing a bye to the second round and watched as Argentina dispatched inexperi-enced invitees Trinidad and Tobago 3-0 and Germany put away their small-bodied Japanese rivals 3-1, only losing a bout due to the absence of their microweight fighter, who encountered visa problems.
The second-round opened with Argentina against the US., who started well with their small micro-weight, Titus Durojaiye, catching Ruel Ramos with a vicious punch, on the turn in mid-air, flattening the Argentine.
However, that was as far as they got as the Argentines rallied to take that match-up 3-1 to advance to the final, awaiting the winner of Jamaica against Germany.
Jamaica still thought they were cruising when Alrick Wanliss got a walkover due to the absence of the German microweight.
However, they realised they were in trouble when Edwards barely lasted out in the second bout against European team world champion Anton Gritsen, picking up an injury during his bout against the German.
Edwards got by after landing bigger blows early in the contest but the German came on strong.
Bruce McFarlane, Jamaica's Seido world champion, started at a rapid pace against the giant Muris Horstmann. However, the Man-deville-based fighter dislocated his arm, which was pushed back in by his father and coach, George McFarlane, but he was clearly uncomfortable and Horstmann rallied to take the bout, pulling the Germans level on points.
Dussard afterwards showed lightning speed to beat Sebastian Kuhn, landing solid early blows to hand Jamaica a 3-1 win and a spot in the final against pumped-up Argentina.
Jamaica started shakily as Wanliss drew his match against the determined veteran, putting them under pressure, which was eased somewhat when Edwards won a spirited but cautious bout against Cesar Favalli to put the combined team ahead.
However, Shawn Cummings was no match for Batista, who caught him with turning kicks, pulling Argentina level.
Dussard extended the impressive Turnes, but the middleweight wore down the lightweight, causing the Jamaicans' heads to drop as they fell behind and stared defeat in the face.
However, Barrows, as he did last year, used smart tactics to outpoint the confident Money, who just could not catch the skipping veteran, who left it up to Edwards to attack and win the tie-breaker and title.