Knockout gym aims for next Olympics

The new $1 million boxing gym at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex will be one of the best in the Caribbean.

It will certainly be a huge improvement on the dilapidated building the boxers use in George Town at the moment which will be demolished by the time the new one is completed next summer.

Dalmain Ebanks started the boxing programme on the island and he strove for years to make it happen. Sadly, he died in January 2006, aged 82 from heart failure, but at least his wife, Esther, was able to attend the ground breaking ceremony last Wednesday. Sports Minister Alden McLaughlin broke ground after giving a moving speech crediting Dalmain ‘Dee Dee’ Ebanks for promoting boxing in Cayman. Ebanks put plenty of wayward youngsters on the right path, including world rated boxer Charles ‘The Killa’ Whittaker.

Esther, a former MLA, said: ‘Thank you Minister McLaughlin for this gym, even though it came late. To all the other ministers who supported this gym, I also want to thank you on behalf of myself and my family.’

She added: ‘Dalmain would be so happy to see this gym. It was always his dream to see boxers have a proper facility and he tried to do it even on his own but could not get the funds. Today he would be more than happy.’

Teaching boxing to schoolchildren is one aspect of utilising the complex to the max.

McLaughlin said: ‘The Boxing Association and the Ministry have begun discussions on the development of guidelines to make boxing a part of sports within high schools.

‘There can hardly be a discussion about Cayman Islands boxing which does not involve in some way a discussion about one individual; Dalmain Dunstan Ebanks MBE.

‘He was truly the father of boxing in the Cayman Islands. Mr Ebanks was the first recognised trainer and referee of the sport locally and the co-founder of the Cayman Islands Boxing Association.

‘His love and dedication for the sport was infectious and is largely responsible for the creation of a Charles Whittaker and a Nayon Anglin of today as well as the entire cadre of first generation Caymanian boxers.

‘Through his dedication he has transmitted this love for the sport to those who carry on the sport today even in trying circumstances.

‘Mr Dalmain had always dreamed of having a proper facility for the sport of boxing as he was convinced of the benefits it could bring, especially to our youth.

‘His conviction as to the benefits of such a facility is one that I share and so it is with great pride that I am able to honour a great Caymanian sportsman and declare that this first ever purpose built boxing facility will be called the Dalmain Ebanks Boxing Gymnasium.

‘The contract was recently awarded by the Central Tenders Committee following a public tender process to Unit Construction at a price of $1,047,758.

‘The Dalmain Ebanks Boxing Gymnasium will comprise a new single storey, 24-foot high building with total gross floor area of 5,700 square feet.

‘It is a been designed to withstand winds of 130mph and is a part steel-framed, part concrete-block structure.

‘The building will accommodate; the boxing ring and gym area; a training room; an office; an equipment storeroom and the existing male and female bathroom block that will be upgraded and incorporated into the facility.’

Garth Ebanks (no relation) is the president of the Cayman Islands Boxing Association. ‘In 1975 when Dalmain came back home from the sea he trained all of us. I pulled out before the other guys because I had more to do. Dalmain was always there for us.

‘This is a very exciting time because we can plan international events and major shows here. Hopefully, we’ll be able to host the Caribbean Championships here within the next two or three years. That’s my aim.

‘We’ll have someone here from eight in the morning until nine or ten at night. A coach will be there at all times.

‘I’ve seen youngsters like Troy O’Neil and others who have come through and won international medals and I can see a lot more winning them in the future.’

Coach Nayon ‘Donie’ Anglin was probably the most excited at the ground breaking. He said: ‘This gym means I can fulfil all my dreams and plans because from the time I started boxing 30 years ago this was what I wanted to see.

‘Now I’ll have more space to work and the time. I have two guys in training and this is what they’ll need to get to the next Olympics in 2012. The place we have now only holds eight and that’s really hard to get what you want.

‘It’s not just a gym, kids can come in and read or come in the office and get lectured. Anyone can come in, it’s not just about the Olympics. This is right near the schools and this will be a positive place for kids to come to.’