Boxing looks like growing into a hugely popular sport by the end of the year in Cayman. Within a short time, the local amateur scene will be transformed.
Fighters no longer train in the shabby building behind the George Town library which is about to be demolished.
They are in a well equipped, make-shift gym at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex awaiting the completion of a spanking new boxing centre, costing over $1m which will be ready within a couple of months.
Coach Donie Anglin has a bunch of talented but raw youngsters who look set to establish the Cayman Islands as a boxing fortress to rival the mighty Jamaicans and Cubans.
Leading the way is his son Jason Parchment, Kendall Ebanks and Dariel Ebanks. There’s also the experience of Eric McField, Curtis Henderson and Troy O’Neil to pass on tips to the youngsters.
Mixed martial arts fighter Peter Lewison could be a top amateur too if he focuses on just boxing and Jesse Bodden is taking a break from the sport but could be a force if he redirects his energies.
Tracey Seymour leads the group of girls who can bring honour to the island.
In front of over 500 people at the Boatswain’s Beach show on Saturday, there were four kids who could emulate Charles ‘The Killa’ Whittaker into the pro ranks if they choose to; Jeffrey Bodden, Johnathan Hurlston, Cruz Barnett and Jerron Carter. They all showed heart and skill for debutants in exhibition bouts.
Overall, boxing is bound to flourish in the coming years. No wonder coach Anglin is so enthused.
The Turtle Farm show was not just an opportunity for Cayman’s best to test themselves against Jamaica’s finest novice fighters, it also raised needy funds for the boxing programme.
Over $5,000 was collected, thanks mainly to the kindness of Boatswain’s Beach who absorbed much of the promotional costs themselves.
‘We raised some good funds,’ said Anglin. ‘Boatswain’s Beach are good people to work with.
‘The guys are getting to a good level now and I hope to take them to Jamaica in May for more bouts. Dariel and Curtis may get a rematch.
‘We’re also looking at other islands to do exchanges with; Bahamas, Barbados and maybe a club in Florida.
‘By early next year I want to take Jason, Kendall and Dariel for a week’s training camp somewhere like Puerto Rico or Cuba so that they can step up to the next level because I want to prepare them for the Olympic trials. Jesse Bodden seems to have lost interest, but I hope he comes back to the sport.’
Pascale Gillon is the special events co-ordinator at Boatswain’s Beach. She was pleased that the show went so well.
‘After the event we were so excited,’ she said. ‘It was a fabulous turn out, far more than we expected.
‘We’re very excited about staging another boxing show later this year. This time in the parking lot which holds more people.
‘It was for a great cause and all the proceeds went towards the amateurs getting to the next Olympics. They still have a lot of time to get better.
‘All the sponsors came together to make it such a wonderful event.
Jodie Ebanks contributed by waiving the site fee and donating chairs, Hardware Express organised the ring, the Lions Centre lent us 200 chairs and Caybrew lowered their beer prices.
‘Cayman Airways gave two tickets to the Jamaicans to come over, Cobalt Coast donated three rooms to the Jamaicans and we’re grateful to the other sponsors for their contribution. They were Andy’s Rent-A-Car, Dog House, J&M Electronics, King Imports and Sunshine Suites.
‘They all pitched in which was great. It was a lot of planning on my part but I’m looking forward to the next one. In the meantime, Boatswain’s Beach is planning a big concert with Big Brother Big Sister.’