Willie Gordon, who was murdered on Wednesday night in Belize City at the age of 49, was one of the four young boys who were the core of what would end up, after five or six years of their working together at our newspaper, becoming the 1992 semi-pro Kremandala Raiders. They were all folders of AMANDALA in the original office in the northeastern section of our compound.
Close friends, these four youth would catch buses after they finished folding AMANDALA newspapers on Friday afternoons and travel to different parts of the country to play basketball. These were Willie, Maurice “Reesh” Williams, Earl “Lotto” Nunez, and Jason Barrera. Barrera was more a manager than a player.
After my experiences with Island Flyers and Geritol in the 1981 and 1982 senior basketball seasons, I resigned from amateur basketball, as I had resigned from amateur football in early 1977. I had grown to understand that my teams would not be able to compete successfully because, even though this was amateur sports, the management/ownership of teams had to be well-financed. And it was not until 1981 that our newspaper finally began to make a profit. The relevant word is, “began …”
Anyway, AMANDALA was selling thousands of newspapers in the middle 1980s, and one of our folders, Paul “Fish Mouth” Richards, pressured me to sponsor the folders in the Princess Royal Youth Hostel Under-17 basketball competition. It was not a lot of money compared to senior basketball.
So then, through the AMANDALA Cream Under-17 team, Willie Gordon began becoming a star in city streets because of his athleticism, intensity, and sheer courage.
After their success in the Hostel competition, we had to sponsor the team in the junior competitions of the Belize Amateur Basketball Association (BABA), which AMANDALA Cream won twice. But another AMANDALA folder who was not one of the core four I mentioned in the first paragraph, had become a city (and national) superstar in high school competition, along with Maino Bevans, at Anglican Community College. This was Evan “Duck” Garnett, who is a second cousin of Willie Gordon, so all kinds of confusing basketball rivalries, rivalries which included Mose and Cordel, emerged in the late 1980s/early 1990s on the AMANDALA (after 1989, Kremandala) compound. We ended up with two junior teams growling at each other on the same compound. Willie Gordon and Maurice Williams were very, very close friends, but I think there was one season where Willie went along with his cousin, Duck Garnett.
To make a long story short, it was the legendary Clinton “Pulu” Lightburn who unified the two teams at Kremandala in the inter-office basketball competition, which was red hot in the early 1990s. Once unity was established, the Kremandala Raiders, featuring seven rookies, emerged in the inaugural semi-pro basketball season of 1992.
I’m not sure when Willie Gordon “split the scene” for Chicago and began rolling in the streets there. I know that he and my eldest son, Mose, were close friends. The long and short of it is that at Kremandala we lost a part of us on Wednesday evening to Meighan Avenue bullets.
Willie Gordon was much loved. I think he was the greatest warrior on the Raiders, totally without fear, a complete he-man.
We are in mourning.