In 1971 George ‘The Chief’ Braithwaite (now deceased) of Guyana
traveled as the representative of the United States table tennis team to Nagoya, Japan for the world table tennis competition.
Following a meeting at the Worlds between Glenn Cowan of the United States and Zhuang Zedong of China, the American team received an official invitation to visit China for a series of exhibitions.
It was the start of what would become ping-pong diplomacy.
Braithwaite was one of nine American table tennis players to visit China.
Braithwaite was working at the United Nations at the time.
They were the first delegation to visit China to end a two-decade Cold War that began at the end of World War II.
The US delegation held historic meetings with Prime Minister Zhou Enlai and Chairman Mao Zedong.
There was also a cultural exchange between the visitors and their hosts and the American delegation visited a number of famous monuments such as the Great Wall of China.
Henry Kissinger had laid the groundwork for President Richard Nixon to open relations, which led to 50 years of friendship and prosperity for the two countries.
Braithwaite passed away last year on October 26 and efforts are being made to honor him next month.
“We are proud to honor ‘The Chief’ by hosting an outdoor gathering for local youth, who will play at the George Braithwaite Courts, already named in his honor by New York State,” said Thomas Hu , Executive Director Officer of the American Youth Table Tennis Organization who will host the event.
According to Hu, representatives from around the world, from countries such as China in Asia and Guyana in the Caribbean, as well as many other countries that had players and officials claiming that “the boss” was a friend are invited to. attend the event to be held at the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, George Braithwaite Table Tennis Court, Capobianco Field, Rooseveldt Island, New York City.
Three blue concrete tables were commissioned in honor of Braithwaite by the State of New York.
There will also be the announcement of the George Braithwaite Fellowship.
The tables were built by Alan Good of HENGE Tables and were among New York State’s first big orders for these locally made tables. There are now 200 spread across America and 100 in New York.
“We are expecting the presence of HENGE Tables CEO Alan Good and the highlight of the day will be a work called Dance to ‘The Chief’ performed by Alan Good, with music commissioned by Tristan Hu,” said Hu.
Hu said the event would be a fun commemoration of the life of George Braithwaite.
“May his spirit continue to move forward in the youth game in this event and in the many lessons he has taught us all, especially friendship first, competition second,” said Wu.
Two Guyanese are part of the organizing committee of the event Sydney Christophe and Mike TenPow.
Christophe is a former Caribbean men’s singles champion and national record holder for most national men’s singles titles while
TenPow is a former Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations.