Steve Victory is no more with us.
News of the passing of Steve Victory came to the Vincentian community early on Monday last and slammed the sporting community into a sense of loss even as it alerted us to our own mortality.
Oh death, where is your victory?
Oh death, where is your sting?
Steve Victory got into bodybuilding while residing in Guyana. His love for the sport propelled him to literally give his all in pursuit of its development across St Vincent and the Grenadines.
To him, this was all that was important.
Of course the sport had preceded his involvement band he knew and understood. For some reason it has slumped into abeyance and Steve had assigned himself the task of working diligently and indefatigably to ensure that it returned to the glory days of earlier times.
No one ever said the undertaking would be easy and Steve busied himself moving around this country to make things happen for the sport.
He was able to encourage the development of the sport. He tried his best to get other people involved and to create gyms or work with others who had their own gyms.
Sponsorship was not easy to access but Steve moved around the business community spending hours on end trying to convince the commercial sector to get involved, regardless of how limited the financial or material contribution.
There were times when he must have felt frustrated in the conduct of his work trying to lift the sport and the challenges he faced yet he gave it his best shot.
Vincentians, lovers of sport that we are lent support to the several bodybuilding shows that Steve organised. On such occasions people were prepared to simply enjoy the sport and that was what Steve wanted.
He relished having shows and watching people having a good time as the athletes flexed their muscles while he stood before them calling on them to deliver their different poses. The Peace Memorial Hall was perhaps his favourite haunt in respect of the shows he organised and led.
At every opportunity he tried whenever possible to invite bodybuilders from neighbouring countries to participate in competitions he hosted here.
It must be acknowledged that the same aggression he carried in his search for athletes and sponsorship he brought to his approach to volunteers. Once he saw someone who he thought could be of assistance he readily engaged him/her in coming on board to serve the organisation in one capacity or another.
It was about keeping the sport alive.
It was about working towards making people take an interest and giving their support at one level or another.
He was elated at the successful exploits of Vincentian bodybuilders when they competed abroad.
It was also his joy to watch the local bodybuilding officials move up the ladder at the regional level of the sport.
There were of course occasions when some thought Steve was so passionate about the sport and his involvement in it as to allow this to take so much control of his approach.
There were times that he was the object of criticisms about the way he led the sport. Like so many other leaders he rebuffed the criticisms and went along as he was wont to do.
Sport leadership is a most challenging undertaking and Steve literally buried himself in it while striving to rebuild the sport of bodybuilding.
There were those who felt that his was a style that did not allow for challenges. He was adamant about the way he did things and this eventually led to him being voted out of office. He was very upset.
For one reason or another in this country there is always so much acrimony at elections that people who have made contributions in the past are often readily discarded. They are literally put out to pasture. Perhaps this is the way Steve felt when he did not gain re-election to the top position. He thought that the sport’s fraternity treated him unfairly.
Not long after having been replaced at the helm of bodybuilding Steve sought to rally his supporters to continue his involvement in the sport. This did not always go down well with the new leadership and for a period of time this proved to be a difficult period for the sport.
Fortunately or unfortunately changes continued in the organisation but Steve was unable to return to the top spot.
During the lengthy period that he was off the leadership of the sport Steve continued to strive to return to the top. It never really happened.
On several occasions the pain of not seeing the sport where he wanted it to be bothered him and he never failed to mount a challenge for change. Somehow he did not find favour enough with the fraternity to be elected as its president.
Even as he suffered in his final days, battling illness he still found the time to talk about the sport to which he so totally devoted himself. He still felt that from his vantage point he could make a contribution to the sport by returning to the leadership. He may well have died with that on his mind.
Steve and the NOC
In 1982 the St Vincent and the Grenadines National Olympic Association (now the National Olympic Committee – NOC) was established. The National Olympic Committee sought for several years to access membership of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The IOC rules at the time stipulated that an NOC seeking membership must have at least five national sports associations affiliated to their respective international federations (IF) with three being involved in sports on the programme of the Olympic Games.
The NOC needed help. The national associations affiliated to IFs in St Vincent and the Grenadines at the time were Athletics, Boxing and Cycling. However, of these only Athletics was in good standing with the IF. Thankfully then Minister of Sport, Jerry Scott, assisted with the funds to facilitate renewed status of Boxing and Cycling with their respective IFs.
There were no other national sports associations here that fit the requirements of the IOC. The NOC then had to rely on two non-Olympic sports in good standing with their respective IFs. These were Netball and Bodybuilding.
It was interesting and critically important that Steve was the man at the helm at the time and he readily joined forces with the NOC to ensure that the organisation met the IOC membership requirements.
Steve was happy to have been part of the NOC in its formative years. He wads elated at having been at the head of one of the five sports here that assured us of IOC status and eventually the right to participate in the Olympic Games, the Pan American Games and the Central American and Caribbean Games.
It was to Steve’s credit that even though he was well aware that bodybuilding was not an Olympic sport and that his athletes would perhaps never in his lifetime feature in the Olympic Games, he worked as diligently at ensuring that the NOC was on a firm footing as anyone else.
Whenever there was a need to raise funds Steve found the time to be involved and brought with him his athletes and volunteer corps.
He saw his involvement in the Olympic Movement as something dear to him and he certainly cherished it.
In this Caribbean of ours we have a tendency to readily dispense with those whom we have replaced as leaders. Too often we try to wipe out the memories of what they have done for this country’s development and behave as though they never existed.
While we may have differences with people we should never allow ourselves to degenerate into such hatred of people that we dismiss them completely and derive them of their places in history.
Steve Victory might not have been considered by many as their ideal sports administrator but he did make his contribution to the broader sport development process in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Vincentian sport fraternity at home and abroad should in all fairness acknowledge Steve Victory’s contribution and be grateful that we had the pleasure of knowing and working with him and that he was able to make his mark on this fair land.
Steve Victory is no more with us.