While there was much cheer and excitement at Trinidad Hilton Ballroom last Thursday night as the "50 Greatest Legends of Sport 1962-2012" were honoured at a gala dinner, perhaps the most poignant moment was the award for late boxer Jizelle Salandy.
Salandy died in a car accident on July 4, 2009 at age 21, while the holder of eight world titles. Her posthumous award was received by her former manager, Trinidad and Tobago Boxing Board of Control (TTBBC) special adviser Boxu Potts.
When interviewed by the Express after the event, Potts, normally feisty and evocative, was subdued and reflective about the accolade.
"It is always emotional when I have to deal with anything with Jizelle Salandy," Potts explained. "Sometimes I feel pain, sometimes I feel angry, and in a greater part I feel proud of the achievements that we've had together.
"Collecting this award tonight means a lot to me, and I hope it does say something to the youth of Trinidad and Tobago, who she always wanted to inspire."
Potts described the celebratory function as "inspiring" for young sportsmen and women.
"I hope those [athletes] to come will tear a page from this book and recognise that greatness doesn't come by simply playing the game," said Potts. "It comes by dedicated hard work, and you must be dedicated, as Jizelle Salandy was."
Potts added: "A lot of people come up to me in the street and ask me 'Boxu, when will we get another Jizelle Salandy?' The answer is: 'If there will be anybody else who will be able to take a troubled child, a challenged child and work with them to mentor them and develop them as I did with Jizelle Salandy'."
He noted that Salandy was "very proud…very humble," whenever she was honoured and he revealed that he oftentimes told Salandy she could become T&T's greatest-ever sporting hero if she followed the "script" of an athlete's life.
"Encumbrance did come along," said Potts. "And I want to say to the youths of Trinidad and Tobago that when you attain greatness, be very careful of your 'hangers on'. Bad company will take you and never bring you back.
"A lot of people will come and encourage you, as they encouraged her: 'this is your time, don't bother with Boxu, he's old'. But age brings wisdom, age brings experience, and that is what I brought to the table that assisted her in attaining her goals."
Potts said Salandy would have been honoured to be named as one of T&T's 50 greatest legends.
"She always said that whatever she did was always for her country and her people," a sober Potts said. "And I think that is one of the greatest assets that she had, in that she was a 'people's champion', and not her (own) champion."