|WINNING WALLOP: Oneil Odele strikes the last bois against Peter Noel to take the "King of the Rock" crown at the National Stick Fighting Competition at the Mayaro Recreation Ground on Wednesday. -Photo: DAVE PERSAD|
ONEIL Odele's unique style of stickfighting brought victory to the Valiant Brothers Gayelle and helped him claim the King of the Rock title on Wednesday night.
It was the fourth time the 21-year-old from Sixth Company Circular Road, Princes Town, has battled in the National Stickfighting Competition.
He placed third last year.
Odele was crowned king when the final bois was thrown and walked away with the $15,000 first prize at the Mayaro Recreation Ground.
His team was rewarded with $30,000. Valiant Brothers is made up of Odele and his brothers, Donald and Ronald Lewis.
Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, Winston "Gypsy" Peters, attended the event and pledged that the first prize in the gayelle competition would increase to $50,000 next year. He said stickfighting was a unique artform, which should be recognised internationally.
Odele said his dream was to win the battle for his deceased father who was known as "King Middle".
"My father was a stickfighter and he would take us along to competitions.
"As a child I knew that is what I wanted to do. In school I would use my rag and play stickfighting. I began entering competitions four years ago. And I would always be practising, while I am in work. I would pick up a stick and pretend I am fighting. It is my passion," he said.
Odele said stickfighting was a "spirited" sport and he felt his dead father's presence during the fight. "I knew my father was there, watching over me. I made some blows that were unbelievable. In five minutes my final round was over and I won," he said.
Odele said he was looking forward to defending his crown next year.
"I want to tell people that stickfighting is a dangerous sport. People have lost their eye, fingers, teeth. You have to be careful...you cannot go in feeling frightened. You have to be prepared, go in strong and confident," he said.
St Mary's Gayelle won the second prize ($18,000), Mc Bean Gayelle third ($12,000) and Cuche Gayelle fourth ($6,000).
Peter Noel placed second in the King of the Rock competition ($10,000), while Evan Ralph finished third ($8,000). —CK