The final bell tolled for former Commonwealth and FECABOX featherweight champion, Patrick Forde, as he was laid to rest yesterday in New York after he succumbed to a heart attack on Sunday.
Forde, 54, is considered one of the greatest local boxers of all time, and was Guyana’s first boxer to fight for a world title on two occasions.
Forde made his professional boxing debut in April 1976 after an outstanding amateur career and he had a professional record of 19 wins and four losses.
Two of Forde’s four losses were to world champions.
Forde first fought Salvador Sanchez of Mexico for the WBC featherweight title in September of 1980 and lost by a majority decision. His next fight was also for a world title, this time against Eusebio Pedroza of Panama who knocked him out in the 13th round for the WBA featherweight title. Prior to these memorable bouts Forde won the Commonwealth featherweight title in August of 1980, recording a TKO victory over Nigeria’s Eddie Ndukwu in Lagos, Nigeria. He also held the WBC FECARBOX featherweight title, winning it first against Enrique Solis in 1979 and then successfully defending it against Nelson Cruz Tamariz in May 1980.
During the wake that was held for Forde at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall on Tuesday night, Stabroek Sport caught up with Steve Ninvalle, President of the Guyana Amateur Boxing Association (GABA), Forde’s older brother Reginald Forde, Guyana’s only Olympic medallist Michael Parris and longtime friend Oswald Pearce. The four men commented on Forde as a boxer and also spoke on how Forde’s passing affects the boxing fraternity.
“As the president of GABA and on behalf of the government, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports we want to express condolences to his wife and family,” Ninvalle said.
“In my mind, Patrick remains one of the top three fighters this country has ever produced. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Lennox Beckles but I’ve seen Lennox Blackmore and many of the top fighters from Guyana but in my mind Patrick rates between number one and two. I’m not saying this because of the fact that he is dead but Patrick was an excellent fighter. It was 15 rounds in his era and I don’t know how many fighters can go 15.”
Ninvalle said further: “Well definitely losing Patrick leaves a void as I said before if some of our young fighters can take a page out of Patrick’s book then we will have a very good crop. His determination, his skill but most importantly his discipline both inside and outside the ring combined to make him what he was. We have a very serious loss in the amateur and professional fraternities and if you combine that it is a very large loss and we can’t fill that gap.”
Parris noted that Forde’s boxing style was a beauty to watch. “His style was something you could admire. He was a good boxer, he had quick hands and good glove sight. He was the type of person that was very disciplined and dedicated to the game. I would rate Patrick among the best of all-time local boxers. It’s a great loss to boxing, said Olympic bronze medallist Parris. Pearce also echoed Parris’ sentiments.
“Forde was a highly skilful fighter, one of the all- time greats to come out of Guyana. I saw him fight many times right here at the Sports Hall. He was one of the most gifted fighters to come out of Guyana – I would rate him in my top three.”
Pearce added: “I’ve known Patrick for a very long time, ever since 1980 when I listened to his Commonwealth fight on radio against Eddie Ndukwu I became an ardent boxing fan that same year Mike Parris won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games and both of them were given a heroes welcome. His death is a great loss, especially for fighters going to the States at Gleason Gym in Brooklyn. A lot of Guyanese boxers go over there and they would contact Forde who would give them good advice on improving their skills, so losing Forde is a great loss.”
Older brother Reginald said he was close to Patrick, acting many times as his assistant trainer. Reginald said that Patrick was cheerful and vibrant but he was extremely plain spoken. He pointed out that Patrick who attended St. Ambrose Anglican School was well loved and will be greatly missed.
He also mused that his brother was a beauty to watch in the ring and this was as a result of his commitment to work in the gym. Remembering Patrick’s first world title fight against Sanchez, Reginald said that many who watched that fight felt that Patrick was the winner. According to Guyana Boxing Board of Control (GBBC) President Peter Abdool, Forde contributed something special when he was in the ring and at the time of his passing he was still involved in helping to develop young pugilists at the world renowned Gleason Gym in New York.
Abdool also said that the GBBC will find some way to pay tribute to Forde for his contribution to the sport of boxing.