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Shoucair champions Jamaica's combined team
Ainsley Walters, Freelance Writer
PAUL SHOUCAIR not only finances the Busta Fighters, through Jamaica Beverages' sponsorship, but is also the martial arts team's biggest fan.
Watching the combined martial arts team successfully defend its title in Orlando, Florida last Thursday, at the United States Open Busta World Continental Team Fighting Championship, an animated Shoucair could not help but display his emotions.
"I really thought I was going to present the trophy to Argentina," he said, recalling the see-saw battle between Jamaica and the International Tae kwon do Federation world champions, who led the Busta Fighters on points entering the final bout of the five-man team match.
"In the back of my mind, I was prepared to be quite dignified about it," Shoucair admitted as he dreaded the thought of turning over the US Open and Busta trophies to the South Americans.
However, the veteran Arthur Barrows, Jamaica's fifth fighter out, pulled off a narrow win to send the match-up into a tie-breaker, which Kenneth Edwards won.
"You could see how much they wanted to win that trophy. When you saw the passion the veteran put into it, if you saw my face then, I got more excited than most people," Shoucair said. "I jumped out of my chair. I was happy with the passion and team spirit showed by the guys. That moved me more than the victory because the guys wanted it so badly."
"I don't know what to say. I was almost brought to tears in that last bout. From the minute the referee said 'fight', to the very end, you could see on his (Edward's) face, that it was a must-win. From the first 15-20 seconds, I said, 'yes', we will win this thing," Shoucair said.
The Jamaica Beverages general manager also said he was pleased with the level of competition, which featured the best tae kwon do continuous fighting countries, drawn from all continents.
"The competition stepped-up ten-fold over last year," he said. "Last year, we had it very easy. At no time, last year, was I worried we would have lost.
"It was nice to see Japan and Trinidad and Tobago making efforts, but they were not in the class of Germany, Argentina and Jamaica. Germany and Argentina surprised me, especially the level of effort and commitment they put in. It's a shame there couldn't have been three winners as any team winning would have been deserved winners," he said.
Increased recognition from the organisers of the US Open, the International Sports Karate Association, was also a big surprise for Shoucair, whose company flew all six teams to Orlando for the tournament.
"I was actually quite surprised with the fact that they have now joined in, presenting the winners of the tournament with a US Open trophy. That shows growing interest and recognition that the teams involved are top class."
However, he does not believe the team is getting enough recognition at home.
"I still believe these guys are not being rewarded by the relevant sporting bodies in Jamaica," he said. "This victory, a lot of people don't realise, is a mammoth one. I keep telling people, Bolt (Usain) and Powell (Asafa) are expected to run 9.7, but these guys are not supposed to go to places like Japan and beat the people who invented the sport."