Haitian Olympian and former two-time World Champion Andre Berto (Winter Haven, Fla.) is driven to not only rebuild his native Haiti, but also promote the natural beauty and vacation opportunities that exist in the island nation. In an effort to accomplish both of those goals, he joined the Jack Brewer Foundation and several professional athletes for a trip to Haiti, April 26-29, as part of their Global Ambassador Tour.
Berto and his fellow ambassadors made several stops during their four-day trip, connecting with local citizens and young people at every visit. “I plan to have a consistent presence in Haiti, it’s a beautiful place and I want to share everything it has to offer,” Berto said. “There’s still a lot of rebuilding work to be done in certain areas and we will continue to assist in those efforts, but I also plan to showcase Haiti’s beaches and stunning natural beauty as a legitimate travel option.”
As the first boxer ever to represent Haiti in the Olympic Games, Berto wants to provide the opportunity for aspiring athletes to represent their country in major international events as well. He had several meetings with local officials about his goal to build boxing gyms and a youth center in Haiti for the youngsters in the area. Berto met several children who are looking to become the next Haitian Olympian during the delegation’s visit to Cite Soleil, one of the poorest slums in the world. In conjunction with a program called the Haitian Initiative, the JBF delegation provided meals to approximately 300 kids as well as participating in a large soccer game with the neighborhood children.
Berto was inspired by all of the kids who came to meet him and take pictures with their own Haitian champion. One young boxer even showed Berto his pugilistic prowess and the two-time World Champion put on the mitts and helped him hone his boxing skills during their visit.
In addition to Cite Soleil, Berto and the JBF delegation visited a facility operated by Helping Hands for Haiti, an organization focused on rehabilitative medical efforts that provides and fits prosthetics for those in need.
Last week’s trip was Berto’s second in the last six months and he looks forward to returning to Haiti following his next fight. Berto will travel to northern California in the next few weeks to resume training with Virgil Hunter in his Oakland area gym. He sparred for the first time just prior to his trip to Haiti and is excited to open training camp this month for his first fight of 2014, tentatively slated for late summer.