“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.”
MERVIN BURGESS reminiscing on his days as a boxer.
MERVIN BURGESS has been a postal worker for the past 46 years.