June 2016 Volume 13

Marv Ventura: KCs Greatest Ever All-Round Athlete?

Everton Bailey
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Mabricio “Marv” Ventura, Class of 1959, is perhaps the best all-round athlete to have attended KC.  

Given the vast number of amazing athletes who have passed through the hallowed grounds of KC over the years, this is no mean achievement. From the legendary Freddie Green, who captained the 1949 Manning Cup champion team, to Lyndie Headley (son of the late West Indies cricket legend, George “Atlas” Headley), to Bill Hall, Trevor “TC” Campbell and Franklyn Morant, a breath-taking array of exceptional multi-sport athletes have emerged from Cloverly Park. Consequently, for one to be considered KC’s best ever all-round athlete, that athlete must, apart from being gifted, also have the attributes of discipline, performance in big events, determination, and character. All the aforementioned traits are exemplified in Marv Ventura.

The son of Salvadore Ventura, a Mexican immigrant, and Minerva Ventura, Marv was born in Kingston in 1941. He attended Windward Road School, before entering KC in 1953. He was an immediate standout in track and field and soccer as well as cricket. He represented KC in track and field as a sprinter, hurdler and long-jumper. His high school track career culminated in winning the Class I 100 yards at Boys Champs at Sabina Park in 1959, defeating the prohibitive favorite, Anthony Matthews of Wolmers.

“Foggy [Burrows] and the other coaches would ask me to take part in events which I wasn’t fully prepared for in order for us to gain additional points,” recalls Marv. “I loved KC and did what I could to help when needed.”

Marv was also a standout member of winning Champs teams in 1954 and 1957, often competing in multiple events while injured in order to secure much-needed points for KC.  Indeed, in 1957 he individually tallied a staggering 18 points while leading KC to victory at Champs.  He also a member to 1957 and 1958 Manning Cup teams which was coached by the legendary Freddie Green that included, among others, Churchill Neita and the late Teddy McCook. In cricket, Marv, an exciting batsman who anchored the KC batting line up, was on the winning Sunlight Cup teams in 1954 and 1955.                    

“Marv Ventura is one of, if not, the greatest athlete to have attended KC. He excelled in cricket, football and track and field. When Foggy Burrows needed points at Champs, two weeks before the event, he asked Marv, a sprinter, to enter the long jump. Marv finished second in the long jump. Can you imagine asking a modern day athlete to do that,” says Audley Hewitt who attended KC with Marv.

Given his stellar high school performances, it was not surprising that Marv was highly recruited by U.S. colleges, and he eventually accepted both a football and a track scholarship from Michigan State University. At Michigan State, despite carrying a heavy course load as he pursued his chemistry degree, he excelled in football (he gave up his track scholarship to focus on his studies) and had many outstanding performances including scoring six goals in a memorable 12-0 rout of Indiana University.

After returning to Jamaica in 1963, Marv worked as a chemist with Ministry of Agriculture and later with Bryden & Eden. He represented Kingston in Senior Cup cricket and played for Melbourne, along with several other KCOBs, in the then-Division I football league.

In 1968 he married the love of his life, Judith Silvera, and the couple had three boys: Mabricio, Jr, Valentino, and Mario, who all attended KC and represented the school in football and/or cricket. Indeed, it is hard to believe that the 1986 KC team, which included the late Mabricio “Bricio” Ventura, was the last KC team to win the Manning Cup.

Despite his busy schedule, Marv has made time to give back to KC and has coached many Pepsi and Colts teams over the years, and has also assisted with the development of fledgling KC cricketers. Beyond KC, he was instrumental in the growth and development of Meadhaven Football Club, along with the late David “Wagga” Hunt and the late David “Bogo” Haughton. Many Meadhaven players, including this writer, were coached by him throughout the years, and as a result of his contribution, Meadhaven went on to dominate youth football until the untimely passing of the club’s founder, David “Wagga” Hunt in 2007.

“I believe in the importance of experience, and in listening to other people’s experience and learning from them,” says Marv. “Young people today need to listen more in order to learn.”

Marv Ventura undoubtedly embodies the spirit of fortis. His selfless and extraordinary contribution to KC as a scholar athlete can never be overstated, and his life of humility and integrity has been a shining beacon to those whose lives have been touched by this quiet and unassuming KC legend. He is forever enshrined in the annals of KC history and is the standard by which all other scholar athletes are judged, and is the greatest all-round athlete KC has ever produced. In fact, some believe that he is arguably the best all-round schoolboy athlete Jamaica has ever produced.

Marv and wife, Judith, reside in Havendale, Jamaica.

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