Carlos Belizaire Bussette- The Trainer of Champions

Lloyd LaBeach walking with his coach and friend,
Carlos Belizaire Bussette 1951
Image thanks to Mr. Anthony McLean
A recent photo of Carlos Belizaire Bussette
Image of Panama’s greatest athletes with
the Trainer of Champions, Carlos Belizaire Bussette.
Image thanks to Oswald Baptiste


When I received word of Professor Carlos Belizaire’s death last night through an email I thought of dedicating a post to this extraordinary teacher who I happened to meet up with several times as a kid on my treks down to the Olympic stadium here in Curundu. He was an enigmatic figure to me at the time (I was just approaching adolescence) with a rather worried countenance.

But, he was often there welcoming us kids and ready to take on and mentor any promising track and field athlete. Whenever a group of us kids would arrive to see what was going on amongst the aspiring boxers, sprinters, jumpers and baseball and basketball players, he was there to meet anyone of us who yearned to compete with the best. Of course, we didn’t know we were in the presence of one of the best athletic trainers Panama would ever produce.

Carlos Belizaire Bussette was born in Panama City in 1917 of Martinican parents. A great athlete himself he was probably best known as The Trainer of Champions. He was one of the key men, in fact, in training our national champion, Lloyd LaBeach, who, up until Irving Saladino’s triumphant return from the Beijing Olympics with Panama’s first Gold Medal in the Long Jump competition, was Panama’s only Olympic Champ, having won a Bronze medal in the 1948 London Olympics.

Carlos Belizaire Bussette went to be with Our Lord this past Friday August 29, 2008 having lived 91 years. Having been an exceptional athlete himself he competed in the 100-200 flat meter competitions and the 4×100 meter relay in his youth. He was professor of physical education in several schools in the old Canal Zone like Cocolí, Howard and Diablo. He also taught at Abel Bravo College (High School), the National Institute and the Institute of Fermin Naudeau.

All told he dedicated about 40 years of his life to training hundreds of young people to participate in Central American national games and in the Caribbean Olympics, and the Bolivarian Games. Many of the athletes trained by Maestro Belizaire won medals for our country. In addition, he helped more than 30 Panamanian athletes in obtaining university scholarships thereby improving their academic and life skills. This was a feature that marked Belizaire, a very demanding teacher as well as coach who truly believed in academic excellence. Athletes like Lloyd LaBeach, Frank Prince, Manuel Rivas, Felipe Malcolm and Cirilo McSween and Lilia Wilson among others, were all trained by him.

He was a veteran of World War II and in his personal life he was a very dedicated family man. His funerary service will be held today, Wednesday September 3, in Don Bosco Church in Calidonia at 2 P.M. He is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Andrea Alfaro de Belizaire (a retired nurse), and four daughters, Delmarie, Yolanda, Leyda, and Noris. He is also survived by Mario Belizaire, his nephew (Washington, D.C.) his sister Bernice Belizaire (New York), grandchildren, great grandchildren, nephews and nieces.

We cannot honor our forefathers like Carlos Belizaire Bussette enough in these modern dizzying times. More than just a trainer of athletes he was a personal friend to many of the young boys and girls that he coached and was ever ready to listen to them and their individual troubles and preoccupations as well as celebrate their victories with them. Even Lloyd LaBeach was crushed by the news that Prof. Belizaire would not be able to join him in training for the London Olympic Games, as I recounted in a previous post. It was the immortal Coach Belizaire who could always bring out the best in him.

Carlos Belizaire as well as all those athletes and coaches of yesteryear who paved the way in Sports in a very unconcerned Panama that, even today, remains as unconcerned and abusive to athletes as in those historic times of the 1930’s and 40’s, have taught us all a lesson. Time, it seems, has not changed the Panamanian Sports Federation and the Panamanian Olympic Committee which continue to emotionally ignore all colored athletes and especially Westindian youth despite their achievement in the classroom or on the field.

This was especially brought home in the shameful and appalling attitude assumed by some members of the Panamanian Olympic Committee in arbitrarily denying financial as well as technical support to the few chosen athletes slated to compete in the Beijing Olympics. The world, as well as many people of conscience here in Panama, is still outraged by the egotism and stolidity still present in these important athletic organizations.

It is our hope that the youth involved in sports today and all those of us who support their promise will rise up in protest and demand reparation for all the years of rejection and neglect. Our Silver pantheon is filled with the souls of those who have excelled and have been patient as their forefathers once were. Their Spirits are crying out for the honor and recognition they deserve, as they traversed the path of a young lifetime full of hope and energy. It is never too late to duly honor our great immortal heroes.

This story continues.

6 responses to “Carlos Belizaire Bussette- The Trainer of Champions

  1. Kyle and Svet Keeton

    We need more men like him, But they seem to becoming fewer and farther apart.

    The Times seem not to change, just seems to repeat!


  2. Kyle and Svet,

    It seems like that doesn’t it? There is however, a new crop of kids coming up that refuse to be daunted by small minds and the rampant greed in the world today. Kids like Irving Saladino. Thank God!!!

    Your friends,

    Roberto and Lydia

  3. Roberto,

    I appreciate all the wonderful comments about coach Carlos Belizaire Bussette. His Biography was very enlightening. Obviously he was one in a million. May he rest in peace and my condolences to his wife and family. I would also like to see a bio about one particular individual that not only was he a teacher to the neighborhood kids, but to quite a majority of the baseball players of days gone by. He represented Panama in the Caribbean Olympics and one of the best baseball players that ever came out of Panama, VICTOR (LOBO) BARNETT.

  4. Thank you for stopping by and leaving your comment. We truly appreciate your enlightening us more on our forefathers.

    Feedback like this is invaluable, especially when you mention another one of the immortals of the Silver People who helped mentor our youth in Panama.

    If you have any more background information on Victor Barnett, especially images, please share with us. Many of these people go unmentioned in most reference sites and history books.

    Thank you again,

    C. Roberto Reid

  5. I’d like you to know that today I showed my grandmother this page and she loved it. She loved seeing grandpa’s pictures, smiled a very loving and happy smile. It’s been 3 months since his passing and she’s been here in NY since the beginning of November. She’s 90 and doesn’t believe it.

    She’s recovering and ready to go back to her Panama! She’s not as “New York” as my mother and aunts and us that have been here and born here and love the cold winters… she does not. Andrea Belizaire misses her husband and country as well.

    Thanks again for the history captured on your pages, especially the tribute to my grandfather. Blessings and Good Will to you and your family, Roberto.

    Javier Alicea, NY

  6. To Javier Alicea, NY
    Thank you very much for sharing such a precious moment in life, as you introduced your grandmother Andrea Belizaire to this new way of keeping traditions alive. I was the old way or “oral history” that had led me to see in the internet a way to tell my story and the story of a part of our Panamanian People too long forgotten.

    It is my hope and prayer that we can be able to, with your help of course, to meet Doña Andrea Belizaire and get her side of the story. I am sensing that it would give us all some wonderfull cultural memories that will last longer than us all. Much longer after we all pass on to that Heavenly level of Life.

    We at the Silver People Chronicle extend our appreciation for your illustrious grandfather the only “Coach” a lot of us Barrio kids had ever known and still would remember who gave us his best even when the government was turning their backs on us all.

    Doña Andrea, ¡Feliz Dia de las Madres! Que viva Madre mia para siempre con ese calor de Amor que lleva Usted hacia su Marido, Don Carlos Belizaire, y que todos nosotros que llegamos a conocerlo todavia le tenemos al recordar.

    Que el Dios Nuestro los tengan a todos envueltos en su Amor Eterno.


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