Clive Atwell- a sporting anomaly in Dominica
Soft spoken, gentle with a touch of urbanity, Clive Atwell is perhaps a truly misplaced representative of his sport. You would not easily detect him as a boxer. He does not feature as the ruggedly brash prototype of the specimen normally associated with the sport. Quietly engaging, there is no exterior evidence of an intimidating spirit. At an off chance guess you might more likely accept him as a university professor in his verbal demeanour – precise and ever willing to express himself in logical terms. Atwell does not like to be misunderstood, preferring to translate his efforts in the ring into results easily understood by the manner of exerting a clear superiority over his opponents. He does not think he has lost a bout as a professional boxer. Though he preserved himself from defeat at his latest showing, he was, to say the least, mystified at a portion of the official results.
The venue was Cliff Anderson Sports Hall in Georgetown, Guyana, his home base where he came up against Shakima Malling of Jamaica for the WBC Caribbean Welterweight Championship. Atwell entered the bout at the junior welterweight limit of 140 lbs, some distance above his usual featherweight fighting weight. Though having only four weeks to prepare for the contest – very well short of the 78 days normally afforded in the business – Atwell is reported to have gone on to give a boxing clinic to his opponent.
Shakima Malling came in as the leading light in the current Jamaica Contender Series, a process for arriving at exceptional performers deemed worthy to feature in potential world title events. Originally he was due to take on Andrew Lewis, former world champion from Guyana, but Lewis suffered an injury during training, leaving the way open for Atwell to come in as what the Jamaicans must have reckoned to be a "safe" option.
A full crowd of about 3,000 watched as Atwell stuck relentlessly to a full proof plan of using a left jab to continually throw Malling off balance and open him up for a succession of counters to both head and body. It proved to be overwhelmingly frustrating going into the 12th round and the better known fighter knew he needed no less than a knockout to save the day. But Atwell did not allow himself to be drawn into a needless brawl in the closing stanza, resorting to the clever tactics of tying up his desperate opponent.
Then came the bombshell – not with gloves but on paper. Judge McKenzie Grainger of Trinidad gave it 116 -112 and Francis Abraham of Guyana 118 -111both for Clive Atwell. However, the Jamaican Judge Clifton Brown seemed to have seen an entirely different fight when he gave it 115 -113 in favour of the Jamaican.
Such was the strident disfavour with the Jamaican judges' verdict; steps were taken at short notice to rule him out from further assignment with W.B.C events. Atwell had dominated in very clear manner in nine rounds: 1, 2,3,5,6,8,9,10 and 11, with his adversary only showing effectiveness in rounds 4, 7 and 12.
Very clearly Atwell should have received a unanimous decision instead of the miscarried split decision. Seemed the absurdity of a decision going in favour of the Jamaican might have materialised if the fight had taken place in Kingston, Jamaica!
Malling suffered a cut over his left eye from a devastating right cross by Atwell delivered over his jab. And though Atwell, rightly, was elated with the outcome over his highly favoured opponent it is understandable he should link any further advances in the sport with his transferring to the United States of America where a pathway to a world title opportunity might be more highly accessible. For one thing, training facilities are marvellous over there and a place like Miami would not dislocate into a radically cooler climate than what is experienced in the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, Clive Atwell continues to train under the faithful guidance and assistance of McNeil Jules at his makeshift gym setup in Virgin Lane, Roseau. Atwell is one of those individuals who finds it in himself to transcend circumstances – notwithstanding the entrenched apathy surrounding him in Dominica despite the pedigree untapped and unalloyed of unconscious disregard for the sport in a country which bears roots of former world heavyweight contender Frank Bruno and even former world champion Lennox Lewis! Clive is also a preacher in the Methodist Church. Incongruous it may seem, but he does not preach peace in the ring where he must avoid turning the other cheek. A blessed Easter season to Atwell, his wife and young son, and all our readers. Soon enough we gather boxing will resurrect here in Dominica with meaningful engagement.