BELIZE CITY, Thurs. July 23, 2020– Strike three, you’re out; and, after twice making contact, only to have him promise to call back in fifteen minutes each time, I resolved yesterday to give it one more try; and if I failed, I would have to conclude that the legendary Belizean football/basketball/baseball star, Wilfred “Paama” Davis had his reasons why he didn’t want to share any more of his sporting past with our Amandala readers. But, whatever were his inconveniences when he briefly gave us an enthusiastic greeting by phone, only to disappear from our contact each time for the rest of the day, our patience finally paid off yesterday afternoon. And it was well worth the wait. But there are many details still to be clarified, as Paama threw so many bits and pieces of intriguing information and his experiences as a young sportsman in Belize, that we will, as he agreed, have to engage him a few more times.
For example, the thought occurred to me, from a comment that Paama made about a Belizean sprinter named “Pratt” back in the late 50s or early 60s, that indeed, our Sports Ministry or someone with means needs to commission some young student or writer to spend some time with the likes of Paama Davis to document his amazing life story. Paama shared that he was in athletic training with other stalwarts for the annual sprint races; and he considered himself at the time a formidable sprinter. There was this guy, Paama recalled, who hung around the slaughterhouse area (that would be where the present Finnegan market exists on West Collet Canal), and he was on nobody’s radar as a top sprinter. However, on race day, according to Paama, Pratt (no first name given) simply ran away from Paama and everyone else in the race. “This guy was around six feet three or four inches tall,” recalled Paama, “and such a performance came back to my mind when I saw Usain Bolt a few years ago.” He agreed that a proper sports programme should have harnessed such a talent and gotten proper training “from outside” so that he could “put Belize on the map.”
It was a recurrent theme in our conversation, the lack of proper attention to Belizean athletes by our sports authorities. Paama observed that Belizean footballers who travelled to Honduras to train always came back with impressive skills to show the rest of our footballers. And the Queens Park Rangers of Dangriga usually included a number of players from Honduras who had come to work in the citrus industry.
Another tid bit Paama dropped: a goalkeeper once considered the best in Central America was named Clive Garbutt from Honduras. He had a drinking problem, according to Paama, and before a big match, the club management would quarantine him in a hotel the night before, to ensure he was sober for game day. The most intriguing part of this story for us in Belize, is that this guy was the uncle of the late, great Louis “The Mugger” Garbutt.
No, he didn’t deny the report we first got coming from Hon. Michael Finnegan, and then last week from Belizean/American Wellington Ramos, regarding Paama’s DNA connection to one A.D. of the L.A. Lakers. It’s a “helluva” story indeed, but for another time.
Next Wednesday, July 29, Paama, now residing in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, will celebrate his 79th birthday, being born in Belize in 1941. From the Amandala sports desk, we wish you a Happy Birthday, Mr. Wilfred “Paama” Davis, and many more; and we look forward to a lot more information to share with young and old Belizeans, at home and abroad.