Stick fighting “King of the Rock” crowned …Rio Claro’s Selwyn John wins

Selwyn John, left, of the Rio Claro Gayelle taunts his opponent during the National Stick Fighting competition at Skinner Park, San Fernando, on Wednesday night. John was victorious and won the "King of the Rock" challenge, a title he now holds for the third time. -Photo: DEXTER PHILIP

With blood oozing from a blow to the head in an earlier fight, Selwyn John of the Rio Claro Gayelle battled for under a minute to win, and was crowned King of the Rock at the finals of the National Stick fighting Competition on Wednesday night.

John overpowered his opponent, drawing blood in the final bout.

Last year’s winner, Oneil Odo, of the Sixth Company Gayelle had to settle for second place.

The National Stick fighting Competition was held at Skinner Park, San Fernando. Minister of Agriculture Clarence Rambharat and Soca king Machel Montano were among the spectators.

John, 28, was struck on the head during the fight for the champion Gayelle. But that did not deter him from winning the King of the Rock competition for the third time.

He said, “I got a buss head in the Gayelle fight. But once I have two hands they have to be aware of me. I went in there to win,” he said.

John has been stickfighting for the past five years.

He would take home $20,000.

Odo who has been fighting for the past seven years believes he was cheated in the final round when he fought against Kaegan Taylor of the Newtown Gayelle. He was disqualified and prevented from advancing final round.

“I was victimised because I was the one who was speaking out about stick fighters. I was telling people that we don’t get anything. And I know they were upset about that. They said from the beginning I would not win. They disqualify me and did not give a reason. My family and friends started walking out of the park,” he said.

But Odo’s love for the art form has not lessened. “I don’t do this for the money. It is a passion I have. I love this game and that is why I come back every year,” he said.

Odo’s father was a master stick fighter, having won the competition many times.

Recalling his moves at Skinner Park, Odo said, “It was too easy. I fight for about a minute and I was on top. Then they disqualified me for no reason,” he said.

Champion Gayelle went to the St Mary’s Gayelle. The team would take home $35,000.