Wednesday, January 13, 2010

World Champion Berto Concerned for Haiti

Welterweight Champ Andre Berto, a Haitian- American is set to fight Shane Moseley on Jan. 30th. It is supposed to be the biggest fight of his career. I have long followed his rise as prospect and his recent ascendancy to the title, maybe have seen him fight six or seven times. He is exciting, explosive and for what he lacks in fundamental defense he makes for with speed and heart. Berto's back story is one of classic determination and appreciation for his country. An exciting boxer to watch as well as an admirable man.

ESPN's Dan Rafael:

"I'm devastated by everything currently happening in Haiti," Berto said Wednesday. "As everybody knows, I have a lot of family members in Haiti and proudly represented Haiti in the 2004 Olympic Games. Like many other Haitian-Americans, my family and I are working to reach my loved ones. From what we have learned to this point, some of my family members are still missing and we have already been informed that members of my family have passed away in the earthquake."

Berto (25-0, 19 KOs) was born in the United States, but his parents were both born in Haiti before arriving in the United States as immigrants and settling in Winter Haven, Fla., where the 26-year-old still lives and trains.

Berto has been involved in Haitian charitable causes and has a foundation with offices in Port-au-Prince, the capital, which was hit very hard by the earthquake.

"Andre has a strong Haitian identity and has been involved with Haitian causes for a long time," said Lou DiBella, who has promoted Berto for his entire career. "His foundation's office has collapsed and he knows that members of his mother's family are missing and presumed dead. It's a bad situation."

DiBella said Berto has not broken camp while continuing to train for the bout, which will take place at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

"He's training as hard as he can and trying to approach this fight with Mosley with a clear head, but right now he is personally distraught," DiBella said. "But I think he will turn that energy to his advantage because he knows that going out there and winning the fight will mean a lot to his Haitian fans and put him in a better position [financially] to help his people. He has friends and family all over Haiti, so pray for them. Pray for all the people of Haiti. My office is helping see what we can do."

Berto said he is figuring out what sort of help he can offer to his people.

"We are currently working on starting our own Haitian relief efforts, and I will be releasing additional information on how everyone can help very soon," Berto said. "I am asking everyone for their continued thoughts and prayers for the people in Haiti during this devastating time."

Here is a rundown of where you can contribute to help the relief efforts in Haiti. (thanks to Digby)

The Red Cross: You can give $10 to the Red Cross’s International Response Fund by texting HAITI to 90999. 100 percent of your donation benefits the Red Cross, and you can print a receipt through mGive, a foundation that helps non-profits take advantage of mobile technology.

UNICEF, the United Nations Fund focusing on children, has worked on the ground in Haiti since 1949, so has the expertise to make a difference. You can donate here.

Doctors Without Borders is also present in-country. One senior staff member reports, “The situation is chaotic. I visited five medical centers, including a major hospital, and most of them were not functioning.” Donate to support public health efforts here.

MADRE, the international women’s rights NGO, partners with the Zanmi Lasante Clinic on the ground in Haiti. “The most urgent needs right now are bandages, broad-spectrum antibiotics and other medical supplies, as well as water tablets to prevent cholera outbreaks,” MADRE reports. Donate here.

Action Against Hunger has had a team in Haiti since 1985, and is ready to fly planeloads of emergency supplies from Paris to Port-au-Prince. Food is one necessity, but so is sanitation; in some Haitian towns, 70 percent of homes do not have plumbing. Donate here.

Mercy Corps has a history of deploying aid to regions affected by catastrophic earthquakes, such as Peru in 2007, China and Pakistan in 2008, and Indonesia last year. They are deploying a team to Haiti, and you can support their efforts here.

Partners in Health is the NGO founded in Haiti in 1987 by Dr. Paul Farmer, the celebrated physician and anthropologist who focuses on international social justice. The group’s emergency response focuses on delivering medical supplies and staff. Louise Ivers, PIH’s clinical director in the country, sent the message, “Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS.” Donate here.

I am Frank Chow and I approved this message

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