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THE PILOT cycle of Ria Ramnarine’s “Boxing Beyond the Ring” ended at the Fine Line Fight Factory in Montrose, Chaguanas, on Saturday night, as 19 female participants graduated out of the inaugural edition.

This brainchild initiative, which was conceptualised and implemented by the former national boxer, sought to offer its female participants an opportunity to empower themselves physically, psychologically, emotionally and socially.

Over the past six weeks, Ramnarine and Fine Line director Bharrath Ramoutar conducted multiple sessions with the women on sport, particularly boxing, as a socially uplifting and developmental tool. Participants were openly educated on self defence, physical and psychological training, self-esteem, improving confidence to develop self-efficacy and to become adept at personal safety awareness and practice.

Attending Saturday’s graduation ceremony were Ramnarine, Ramoutar and Kabir Hosein, as well as president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Brian Lewis, youth officer in the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development Andrew Sooparie and president of the Trinidad and Tobago Amateur Boxing Association (TTABA) Cecil Forde.

Together, these dignitaries heaped praises on Ramnarine’s unique developmental idea and lauded the many benefits that have so far emerged out of the initiative.

In his feature address, Lewis commended the brave efforts of Ramnarine, who has opted to enter a new and realm of boxing ‘beyond the ring’.

Citing her recent works as “historic and pioneering”, Lewis was in full agreement with the programme’s initiative and credited Ramnarine’s timeliness, since yesterday was also International Women’s Day.

“It’s a landmark approach,” said an excited Lewis. “We are here celebrating a small idea which has now transformed into a catalyst for changing how women experience the sweet science otherwise known as boxing. You have all gone beyond yourselves.

“Ria, this programme that you have built, will go a long way,” he continued. “The distance and borders that such a programme can conquer are beyond our thoughts because what you have done over the past six weeks may have never been done in this country in a sporting aspect. You have set a standard in which you are the leader.”

Additionally, several members of the graduating class opted to share their views on the programme, some of which were almost drawn to tears. Participants Elizabeth Francis and Nathalia Reyes opened the floor for the graduates and were also in high praise of this special sporting workshop for women.

“We learnt so much,” said Francis. “Not only physical training but there were several motivational talks and encouragement.

The self defence aspect was well accepted by me as well. Prior to this programme, I do not think I would have been able to defend myself when presented with a situation. I have left this group with so much more confidence.”

Marlene Charles, president of the Young Women Christian Association, and several other representatives from similar local female groups, were also present and all smiles for the graduating bunch. Meanwhile, Ramnarine, in her address, was overjoyed with the feedback and support received and welcomed more females throughout the nation to join such initiatives. It is expected that the programme will continue on a weekly basis at the Fine Line Gym.

Boxing Beyond the Ring Graduates -

Certificates of Participation: Kadejah Ramdhanie, Nester Flanders-Skeete, Onessa Braithwaite.

Certificates of Merit: Lynicia Hall, Shenelle Ramsaroop, Shantel Adams, Nathalia Reyes, Alana Ali, Sherna Alexander-Benjamin.

Certificate of Distinction: Hema Ramdeo, Tanya Western, Marlene Charles, Dulcie Furlonge, Halcyon Yorke-Young, Leneika Melville, Kimberly Baptiste, Crystal Dick, Elizabeth Francis, Danielle Azizullah.

Certificates of Appreciation: Anand Rampersad, Marlon Mitchell, Ramsingh’s Sports World, Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development, Brian Lewis, Bharrath Ramoutar.