Your Premier Jamaican Sports Portal
Coach heaps high praise on Busta Fighters
Ainsley Walters, Gleaner Writer
CLAUDE CHIN, coach of Jamaica's Combined Martial Arts team, the Busta Fighters, has said that 2008 was the island's best year ever in martial arts history and this season they will be hunting their biggest scalp yet, North Korea.
Led by Busta Fighters team members, Jamaica recorded its most successful year to date on the international martial arts circuit.
Apart from maintaining their unbeaten run internationally, the Busta Fighters topped Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, Ger-many and Argentina to retain their title as US Open World Team-sparring champions.
"It was a very successful for the Busta Team, winning the World Continental Team-sparring Cham-pionship and also from an individual point of view with Nicholas Dussard winning the International Tae Kwon Do Federation (ITF) Pam-Am Championships gold in April.
"Alrick Wanliss was also the microweight World Cup champion in Italy in November. They were the two most-outstanding individuals internationally," Chin noted, also pointing to Arthur Barrows, Bruce McFarlane, Shiahh Shukura and Kenneth Edwards as other commendable performers last year.
"To meet North Korea would be our highlight for 2009," he added. "They're considered the best in the world.
"We're trying to get the North Koreans, but we've been unsuccessful because we're not travelling. We're in negotiation, trying to get a match on neutral ground," said Chin, who has already led Jamaica to victory over Japan in 2006 and China in 2007.
Jamaica's biggest team event win, a successful defence of their World Continental title in Orlando, Florida, was against tougher opposition than the previous year.
Paul Shoucair, general manager of Jamaica Beverages, which sponsors the team through its Busta brand, said he was extremely pleased with the combined team.
Shoucair, who was ringside in Orlando, Florida, last summer when the team successfully defended its World Continental Team-sparring title at the US Open, said he was looking to a fourth year of sponsorship.
"It's been a successful year for them and obviously a good sponsorship for Jamaica Beverages," he said.
"It's an excellent marketing tool although it didn't start that way. I always tell people I was just giving it to them because I had seven martial arts men in my office," he mused. "I never had any faith in them.
"We're embarking on a fourth year and they will still be the Busta Fighters at the end of the year," he said.
Team manager and captain Jason McKay said he was proud of the new milestones reached in 2008 and was looking forward to successfully defending their world title as well as a possibility of staging a bout against North Korea, the only major team they have not defeated.
"Nicholas Dussard was our most outstanding fighter for the year, winning the blackbelt lightweight division at the US open in addition to his Pan-Am gold. He took the Fighter of the Year award ahead of Kenneth Edwards, who won the Busta League crown," McKay pointed out.
"One of the major things we're working towards is to have a full junior squad at the ITF World Champs in Argentina in December," he added.