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Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Front Page -

“I had a strong love for my un­cle Noel ‘Young Badow’ Burgess, Young Wood­ell and Young Cas­sius Clay. I looked up to them as box­ers,” said Mervin Burgess, who to­day is an act­ing se­nior post­man at the Gen­eral Post Of­fice.

He spoke of fight­ing, with some re­gret, Young Cas­sius, as he was such a close friend. Cas­sius won by a split de­ci­sion.

Burgess said Cas­sius told him af­ter the fight that he had hit him (Burgess) with some of his best shots and had no idea he was so strong.

Cast­ing his mind back to the 1980s, Burgess said he was one of the lo­cal stars on a wrestling card at the Na­tional Sta­dium that in­cluded In­vaders 1 and II, Mr Fugi, Ray Apol­lon from Trinidad, among oth­ers. His trainer was Roger Sealy.

“Wrestling is an un­der­stand­ing and if you don’t have an un­der­stand­ing, you could kill some­one. I had to use steroids be­cause my weight was 160 and I came up against an­other Bar­ba­dian, David Al­leyne, who was about 220 pounds. So, in or­der to be com­pet­i­tive, I had to boost up.”

Burgess said the fight was go­ing well un­til Al­leyne hit him with a “clothes­line” (a blow to the throat with an out­stretched arm) and then put him in a choke­lock.

“When this hap­pens, three taps to the arm should tell the op­po­nent to ease up. I tapped three times. He was still chok­ing me. I did it again and he still did not budge.

“The crowd started shout­ing: ‘Kill he. Kill Burgess ’cause he want to sell co­conuts, he want to be a post­man, he want to do se­cu­rity, and now he want to be a wrestler’.

Could not breathe well

“My eyes started to get cloudy and I could not breathe well.”

Burgess said he had no choice, at that point, but to fight dirty.

“It was sim­ple. I could not let him kill me. I grabbed him by his waist, pulled him to me and started bit­ing him all ’bout the body till blood come. The ref­eree cried foul and stopped the fight. I ain’t get no money that night . . . ’cause they said I fought dirty.”

Al­leyne, he ex­plained, was taken to the hos­pi­tal by am­bu­lance for med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

But what he re­flected on most, with mixed emo­tions, was his role in the postal ser­vice for nearly half-cen­tury.

De­scrib­ing him­self as over 58 years old, he said he came off the block at 14, went into postal work at 17, and never looked back. He has been in the ser­vice for 46 years.

Burgess said his brother was a post­man and see­ing him leave on morn­ings, he fell in love with the uni­form.

He main­tained he should have been pro­moted “long time ago”, in­stead of only af­ter 30 years in the ser­vice.

With 25 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence at the time and armed with a driver’s li­cence, the vet­eran said he was dis­ap­pointed when

He is no longer mak­ing house-to­house de­liv­er­ies, ef­fec­tive last Fe­bru­ary, but is work­ing on the in­side.

“I feel good now,” he told the DAILY NA­TION as he sat within the walls of the Gen­eral Post Of­fice, his “home away from home”.

Cit­ing some fright­en­ing en­coun­ters with dogs, Burgess re­called hav­ing “to pelt big rocks” at some which at­tacked him while he was mak­ing de­liv­er­ies.

This was for self-preser­va­tion only, as be­ing a dog owner him­self, he said he un­der­stood and loved the an­i­mals.

But through the years tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances have changed his work­load dras­ti­cally.

“There is now sig­nif­i­cantly less mail pass­ing through the post of­fice. For me, the days of mail are over. Light bills and wa­ter bills, among other bills, are the main de­liv­er­ies now.

“A lot of the dis­trict of­fices will soon be closed as the op­er­a­tion be­comes more cen­tralised, be­cause a small coun­try like Bar­ba­dos can’t carry this load any­more,” he said.

Burgess, who tied the knot at 21 with Lucelta and has been mar­ried for 40 years, said that over the years he had gone through about nine mo­tor­cy­cles and 14 bi­cy­cles.

“I used to mash them up or they would get steal. I lost about three or four mo­tor­bikes and about four bi­cy­cles to thieves.

“Plus, I got mar­ried early and the mo­tor­bikes be­came an ex­pense, so I had to get the rid of them and use the bi­cy­cles.”

But that, too, brought its fair share of chal­lenges. Af­ter a while he had to “put down” the bi­cy­cles since his knees and an­kles started aching. “So I had to walk for a while.” But this was noth­ing new for the con­sum­mate ath­lete who is fre­quently seen with a tyre tied to a rope around his waist, pulling it from his Bridge Road, St Michael home to the Eman­ci­pa­tion Statue in Hag­gatt Hall, up to War­rens, and then back home.

As to how much longer he plans to rally be­fore re­tire­ment, Burgess said: “I could go home now, but se­nior post­men get a lit­tle in­cre­ment ev­ery year un­til they reach the limit af­ter four years. So I will con­tinue a lit­tle longer.”

(Pic­tures by Len­nox Devon­ish.)

MERVIN BURGESS rem­i­nisc­ing on his days as a boxer.

MERVIN BURGESS has been a postal worker for the past 46 years.

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