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Eric Sealy remembered

4/7/2011

POLITICAL and Social Activist and former Boxing Promoter, Eric Sealy, will long be remembered for his role in Barbados’ development.

Sealy, who had been living at the St. Michael Geriatric Hospital, died on Tuesday night. He was 86.

Sealy, who had lost some of his vision, will long be remembered for his exploits in boxing promotions, as a consumer affairs advocate as well as his involvement in politics at the grass-roots level.

Sealy attended St. Giles Boys’ School. While he did not go on to secondary school, the knowledge that he was able to amass about Barbados and how he was able to articulate that and whatever message he deemed as appropriate, earned him the title of “Oral Historian”.

He left many impressed with the way he was able to recite events, particularly those that occurred during the 1930s, issues relating to Clement Payne, birth of the political movement, and formation of both trade unions and political parties.

He promoted several boxing matches involving Barbadians and opponents from across the region. It was that involvement which renewed interest in the game, which went into decline in the late 1960s. He also served as promoter in the area of entertainment and he has cited the many instances when he took Barbadians abroad to perform.

He is credited also with launching the island’s first pressure group on the local political circuit during the 1970s. In that setup, he teamed up with Al Gilkes, Mark Williams and the late Carl Rouse, and held political meetings across the country.

The organisation focused on a number of issues, ranging from the cost of living to the Constitutional Amendments of 1974, before turning the movement into a full-fledged political body known as the People’s Pressure Movement (PPM).

Yesterday, Gilkes extended his condolences to the relatives of the late Sealy.

He also said that they spent quite a lot of time together in their two areas: Sealy as a boxing promoter and Gilkes as a promoter of entertainment. “Together with Mark Williams, we were involved in the struggle to get better conditions for entertainment in Barbados, specifically related to the absence of any facility to hold shows,” according to Gilkes.

He went on to add that “in 1973, that relationship extended to the political arena in the midst of a recession. We picked up airing issues on the behalf of the masses of Barbadians, in relation to the significant increases in the cost of living and especially the cost of utilities”.

That relationship also gave birth to the People’s Pressure Group, which remained until the General Election of 1976.

Sealy was also well known for his oratory skills and his ability to hold the attention of audiences for hours as he discussed the political and social issues in Barbados.

He had long held the view that the history of Barbados must be rewritten. That view was based on a common belief that many people tended to see Barbados from the Grantley Adams and Errol Barrow eras.

“We believed it because we have heard about Adams and Barrow, but throughout there are several others who have made sterling contributions to the development of Barbados,” he had said sometime ago in an interview. That interview was aired again on radio yesterday during CBC’s tribute to Sealy.

One of the names omitted from the list of National Heroes is that of Wynter Crawford and Sealy was adamant that there was a mistake in omitting Crawford.

Sealy believed that Crawford, who rose to become Deputy Premier of Barbados, had fought for many social policies to which Barbados is noted for. For that alone, he (Crawford) should be a National Hero.


COMMENTS
I was deeply saddened when I heard the news of Mr. Eric Sealy's passing. Mr. Sealy was one of Barbados great pioneers, he was always willing to help someone in anyway he could. As a Boxing Promoter, he had done all he could to help with the establishing of the sport (boxing) in Barbados. I for one benefited from this: Mr. Sealy was the one who assisted in getting me to the United States to further my boxing career and I am very grateful for having the opportunity to cross path with Mr. Sealy.

Deepest sympathy goes out to the Sealy family.

– Edward "The Pit-bull" Pollard and Family.
Miami, Florida

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When the true history of Barbados is written, Eric Sealy will loom large as one who used his unmatched oratory skills and incredible memory to educate and inform those often overlooked by a now almost bankrupt, elitist political culture.

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