Marc My Words!

Marc Maturo’s official sports column

Mullings dreams of world title, hopes to win bigger fight

Sakima Mullings, on way to victory
Sakima Mullings, on way to victory

Boxing contender Sakima Mullings, a Spring Valley High School graduate who earned a college degree from SUNY New Paltz, is trapped on the ropes, so to speak, in his native country of Jamaica – trapped by a crime in Rockland County, then deportation.

Mullings, who hopes to one day fight for a world title at 147 pounds, will fight in the 160-pound middleweight class for the final time on September 13, when he meets Guyanese Derek Richmond in an 8-round non-title, “keep busy” skirmish at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall in the capital city of Georgetown, Guyana, which has the distinction of being the only South American nation in which English is the official language.

Whatever the language, Mullings speaks precisely and clearly, without equivocation, when discussing how and why he was deported to Jamaica, which he left as a 4-year-old and where he maintains citizenship.

“I chose the wrong way to finance my education. I wanted to get an MBA (in finance),” Mullings told The Rockland County Times during a recent break in training. “It was a poor choice and it came back to haunt me. I paid for it.”

Mullings, now 32, who grew up with a single mom, Barbara Paisley – a U.S. citizen who lives in the county and who visits her son twice a year – was a legal, green-card holder when he was caught dealing drugs. He was sentenced under the New York State “Shock Program” as a non-violent offender to six months at a boot camp in Western New York, was processed by ICE, then deported.

“I can’t come back (to the states),” said Mullings, who is 16-1, losing a decision in 2011 to Ricardo Smith but avenging the loss, also by decision, in 2012. “You really have to box in the states to get anywhere; maybe one day I can fight in my area, like the County Center (White Plains), or Barclay Center (in Brooklyn) or even Madison Square Garden. My legal team is working on it, but …”

“He is a great kid, smart, listens and was going somewhere. He was putting people away,” said Steve Bratter of Orangeburg, who trained Sakima for a year following his introduction to the sport at Extreme Boxing Club in Spring Valley.

“I never thought he would get into trouble, no way – not in a million years,” added Bratter. “I told him that’s not the way to do it. He had talent, picked up everything. It (crime) ruined his life. He would have made it to the top.”

Mullings, who holds the Caribbean Boxing Federation welterweight crown, is expected to try his hand as a light-welter at the National Indoor Sports Centre in Kingston, Jamaica on October 25.

“At the end of the day I still want to be a world champion,” said Mullings, who refuses to let the dream die.

“Looking back, of course I would have chosen not to get involved,” Mullings continues, wistfully. “I was a good student (EOP scholar and Dean’s list at New Paltz in 2005), I did the work. If I do not make a poor decision, I might be working on Wall Street, but not enjoying it. I gave up being a banker; I don’t see myself in a bank. Who knows what will happen. God often works in mysterious ways.”

The ultimate mystery, perhaps, is how a good kid, a good student, with a talent in the ring, would make a decision that changed the course of his life.

CLINCHED: Newcomers Sara O’Brien of Orangeburg and Brittany Grandville of Tappan won in doubles as the SUNY New Paltz women’s tennis team clinched the No. 1 seed for the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Eastern Division with a 9-0 win over Plattsburgh. New Paltz will be the top seed from the Eastern Division for the SUNYAC Tournament on Oct. 10-12. The Hawks will take on the No. 4 seed from the Western Division, which is yet to be determined. Grandville also won two singles matches, and O’Brien, an alumna of Albertus Magnus HS, posted another for the unbeaten Hawks (4-0), who must gear up to host reigning SUNYAC champion Geneseo on Sept. 12 at 3:30 p.m. at the North Tennis Courts.

QUICK HITTERS: Freshman goalkeeper Catelyn Cordero of Airmont earned her third win in as many games, and senior midfielder Eleni Anselmi of Garnerville had an assist as the New Paltz women’s soccer team edged Brooklyn, 1-0, at the Scarlet Raider Classic, hosted by Rutgers-Newark in Newark, N.J. Anselmi, a graduate of North Rockland HS, fired off a game-high four shots in a tough defensive struggle. The Hawks then beat the host, 2-1, to win the crown. Cordero, a Suffern HS alumna, improved to 4-0, making two saves. Anselmi was named to the all-tournament team. … Clarkstown North alum Edel Fernandez of New City is a junior defender on the men’s soccer team at Purchase College. The Panthers host CCNY on Sept. 13 at noon, and stay home on Sept. 17 to meet Centenary College at 7 p.m. … The Pace University football team kicks off its season against non-conference opponent Alderson Broaddus University on Sept. 13 at noon. The game will be played at Ann M. Dorner Middle School in Ossining. North Rockland HS graduate Logan Vasquez of Stony Point is expected to make his debut for the Setters at linebacker. Teammates include sophomore linebacker Gavin Maher, also of Stony Point, and senior defensive back Akwasi Degraft of West Haverstraw. … Senior Gabe Ostrow of Nanuet, a returning starter on the defensive line, had a fumble recovery and sophomore Shane Cronin of West Nyack had two field goals in two attempts as the Cortland football team lost in overtime to host Buffalo State, 51-48, in the non-league season opener for both teams. Cronin, an alum of Clarkstown South HS, also averaged 38 yards on six punts. Ostrow also had six solo tackles and assisted on another. Cortland will host Brockport on Sept. 13 at noon in a non-league game that will be televised live on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel. … Tobin Anderson of Pomona, head coach of the men’s basketball team at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, has high hopes for the Spartans and is already looking forward to the 30th annual NIT Season Tip-Off. This year’s NIT is a three-day, six-game, eight-team event at Madison Square Garden with several games to be contested at campus sites. The Spartans, for instance, travel to Spokane, Wash., to meet Gonzaga University on November 22. Among Coach Anderson’s returnees is junior forward Alushula Odongo of Suffern, last season’s team leader with 20 blocked shots. Odongo also averaged 7.3 points and four rebounds per game as STAC posted a 15-14 overall record. … The unbeaten SUNY New Paltz field hockey team made it three straight in come-from-behind 4-2 fashion against visiting Utica College as senior midfielder Deirdre O’Neill of New City scored one goal and assisted on another. New Paltz trailed 2-0 in the second half before O’Neill assisted on a goal by Jessica Caruana of Holbrook to spark the Hawks. New Paltz meets Skidmore College on Sept. 13 in Saratoga Springs at 1 p.m., and takes on Union College in Schenectady on Sept. 16, also at 1 p.m. … Sophomore Taryn Colon of Suffern ran 19th as the New Paltz women’s cross country team tied host Vassar College for first at the Ron Stonisch Invitational in Poughkeepsie. New Paltz next competes at the UMass-Dartmouth Invitational on Sept. 20 at 11:15 a.m.

THIS & THAT: Liam McGuirk, who coached winter and spring varsity track at Pearl River HS from 1994-2008, helping to develop seven county championships, is the assistant men’s and women’s cross country coach at Purchase College. McGuirk also trained and coached the pentathlon at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in San Diego, Calif. … Mercy College associate director of athletics Bill Sullivan of Valley Cottage has been promoted to senior associate director of athletics for internal operations. Sullivan has served in the department for 20 years.