BELIZE CITY, Mon. Dec. 21, 2020– Belize boxing and horse racing fans of the 1970s and ‘80s might be familiar with the name and voice of Bernard Aguet, insurance salesman during the work week, who often substituted for then Minister Lindy Rogers in doing the play by play announcing for boxing events at Bird’s Isle or horse race meets at then National Stadium in Belize City, Castleton Park in Burrell Boom, or the People’s Stadium track in Orange Walk. Aguet later migrated to the US, occasionally visiting back home to share some enjoyable reunions with friends, and spent the last fifteen years living in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he passed away just over a couple weeks ago on December 4, 2020.
Sports announcing came later in life for Bernard, though. In his youth, as his track relay teammates and friends Colin Thurton, Owen “Sonny” Meighan and Peter “Chuku” Young can no doubt attest, Bernard was a very active and passionate sportsman, participating at a competitive level in basketball as well as track & field, softball/baseball, and would not hesitate to try on some gloves for a sparring session, or put on some boots for a football game. His favorite challenge, recalled both Colin and Sonny in our phone conversations earlier tonight, even after a long workout session on the track and getting ready to return home, was, “Le’s go; lamppost to lamppost!” He loved to race, although, as Colin recalls, both himself and Chuku were faster at sprinting than Bernard. “I think if he stuck to it he could have been a very good middle-distance runner, like the 400 meter” observed Thurton, who is five years younger than Bernard, and a track coach/consultant at Texas A&M. Colin recalled a time following the devastation from Hurricane Hattie of October 31, 1961, when Belize City was just beginning to get back to normalcy, a one-mile race was held in 1962 a couple days before the Tenth (September), and Bernard Aguet placed third, behind Bob Lightburn in second, and Eustace “Wappa” Gill in first place. (Colin was certain that Wappa won that race over Bob.)
On Bernard’s visits back home to the Jewel, Sonny recalled their fun filled reunions, as they would spend hours chatting at the Barracks recounting the old days. One incident both Colin and Sonny highlighted with similar recollections. One of the two scheduled preliminary junior basketball games was not played due to a no-show one Friday night, and the organizers opted to move up start time for the senior game. HRCU had only four players to start their game with – Colin, Sonny, Chuku and Francis Usher. When Bernard showed up with the game already under way, his breath told an unmistakable story, and then captain Sonny Meighan, a stutterer when agitated, expressed his pleading displeasure: “Yo… yo… yo know yo kyahn do dat, man, Bernard.” To which the unrepentant Aguet calmly replied, “No worry ‘bout not’n, man; I aaaright. Just gi mi di ball.” Well, whatever spirits Bernard had been imbibing earlier did not affect his well acknowledged shooting touch. Every shot he took, was not’n but net.
With the captaincy alternating between Sonny and Bernard, the HRCU basketball team won a few championships in the 1960s, before Colin left for the US in 1968.
Bernard, Jr. says his dad, who was born on August 20, 1938, enjoyed his life; and even in his senior years, whenever meeting up with his old friends, would be tempted to challenge them, rolling up his pants foot and declaring, “lamppost to lamppost!”
Up to last November, 2019, Bernard Jr. recalled that his dad was in good spirits and enjoying visits to boxing events in Las Vegas. On one such occasion, father and son encountered the renowned champion, Roy Jones, Jr. on the elevator, and they ended up spending an hour and a half hanging out and chatting about sports, etc., including the Belizean cashew seeds which Bernard Jr. had just received from back home, and which, it turned out, Roy was excitedly familiar with.
“Covid-19 led to his loss of work for months,” said Bernard, Jr., “and staying home in lock-down for long periods of inactivity eventually led to heart problems.”
He said he plans to bring his dad’s ashes back home to Belize sometime next year, when this Covid-19 situation has improved, for a memorial service. Bernard was pre-deceased by his wife Velda Aguet nee Fairweather.
Our sincere condolences to his children, other relatives and friends from the sports desk and Kremandala. Rest in Peace, brother Bernard Aguet!