ST. MARY’S HALL, BELIZE CITY, Sun. June 28, 2015–The Judo Association of Belize (JAB) has brought to Belize the First All Belize Judo Championships, which opened just over a half hour late at 10:35 a.m. due to last minute registrations, but wound up finishing on time at around 2:00 p.m., with Referees and Judges Franz Menzies (President), Leon Guild (General Secretary) and Juan Card (Vice- President) initially officiating, and Event Coordinator Remus Betancourt helping to ensure a smooth tournament.
In the intervening 3 ½ hours however, the full house audience was treated to an action packed Judo Championships, starting with the youngest kids who proved to be the bravest at throwing themselves, literally, into action. The outstanding young judoka to emerge victorious from Category 1 of the Kids Division was Christopher Young, who came away with the Gold Medal Award. Shaheed Perez won Silver, and Ronan Solis came up with Bronze.
In Category 2 of the Kids Division, Leandro Hegar emerged victorious with Gold, Sebastian Garcia took Silver, and Nishan Martin settled for the Bronze.
In Category 3 (Male Youth Division), David Mejia won Gold, Alex Vernon took the Silver and David Mata came up with the Bronze.
In Category 4, the Female Youth Division, Silke Middleton scored Ippon! for the Gold, and Brianna Tejada gained Silver.
In Category 1, Male Adults 66 kg, the outstanding Takaki Yanei took home the Gold, the battling Gerald Meighan placed for Silver, and the courageous Sergio Betancourt settled for Bronze.
In Category 2, Male Adults 73 kg, Juan Card triumphed with Gold, Miguel Mahitani emerged with the Silver, and Gian Lisbey settled for Bronze.
In Category 3, Male Adults 81–100 kg, Renick James won Gold, Melvin Armstrong took Silver, and James Wallace settled for the Bronze.
In the Adult Category, 81–100 kg, a drawn out fight occurred between Melvin Armstrong and Renick James for the Gold. Another major battle was between Rey Khalid Sosa and James Wallace for the Bronze, where, although Wallace was the eventual winner, great credit was due to Sosa for his fighting spirit in trying to go on through painful injuries to his fingers; and, with the medic patching him up, he threw himself back in, but eventually tapped out.
The last, surprise Open Weight match for the audience was a long battle for the Maya Island Air prize of two 2-way air tickets to San Pedro or Placencia, between Juan Card and Renick James, and Renick came close to dumping his sensei. The skillful and patient tactical play of Juan Card had him emerge from this full-time match the overall winner of this contest and these Championships with the Ippon! score to take the prize.
As you will note, Juan Card transitioned from the role of Referee/Judge seamlessly to compete in this Championships, and former President Wellington Chee was drafted in to replace him, so that the minimum requirement of 1 Referee and 2 Judges was maintained at all times. Mr. Chee was awarded a special Lifelong Member’s Certificate for his role in introducing and persisting in the long ongoing struggle to promote the combat sport of judo in Belize.
That struggle continues with the introduction of this first ever All Judo Championships to Belize by returning President Franz Menzies and his able team. We look forward to bringing to you, our Belizean nation, more, bigger and even better judo events in the near future.
See you in 2016 for the II All Belize Judo Championships.