Well it took over 50 years to arrive but, as they say, the best things in life are worth waiting for.
After years of huffing and puffing, the government finally delivered – appropriately on the eve of the election.
Cayman has needed a dedicated boxing gym ever since the sport’s pioneer here, Dalmain Ebanks, introduced it to youngsters in the post-war years. He was so determined to see his dream materialise that at one point he attempted to fund one himself.
The great trainer died a few years ago but at least his widow Esther was able to see the opening last Thursday of the Dunstan Dalmain Ebanks Boxing Gymnasium at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
It’s a massive 5,700 square foot, cost around $1.2 million and will serve head coach Nayon ‘Donie’ Anglin’s band of around 20 dedicated boxers well. That number will swell.
Anglin has been to every boxing gym in the Caribbean and claims only Trinidad’s is remotely as good – and certainly not better.
In close proximity of numerous schools and right in the heart of George Town, it will be used extensively.
In his speech, Minister of Sport Alden McLaughlin, admitted: ‘Esther must have wondered if this gym would ever come. Well it’s been 50 years in coming.
‘Dee Dee started boxing over 60 years ago after coming back from sea. A new breed emerged in the 70s that included Dale Ramoon and Donie Anglin who represented Cayman at the 1978 Commonwealth Games.
‘Poor facilities and equipment led the kids to leave the old building behind the library but credit to Donie, he preserved and kept it going and even produced a Caribbean light-heavyweight champion in 2006 in Jesse Bodden. (Troy O’Neil was also Caribbean light-heavy champ, in 2002.)
‘From the streets of Brooklyn and the inner-city of London, boxing has mobilised youths and Cayman has its own example in Charles Whittaker.
‘The target for this gym is for both male and female youths to reap the benefits. Though not a primary focus, we hope that one day world champions will be produced.’
McLaughlin added that other sports will be held there. He acknowledged the contribution Truman Bodden had made to the sports scene in Cayman and Tommy Ebanks, the project manager who ensured the building met its deadlines.
Bodden was there as were former boxers Garth Ebanks, Nayon Anglin Snr, Ivan Farrington and Denward Ebanks.
Donald McLean, president of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, presented boxing uniforms to Randy Rankin, the president of the boxing association.
Esther Ebanks thanked McLaughlin for making her late husband’s dream a reality before emotionally cutting the ribbon to officially open it.
There followed a session of pad work and sparring as guests munched their way through refreshments.
Tracey Seymour, Cayman’s most active female boxer, said: ‘This place is so fantastic. It’s huge. I never expected it to be so big. I’m looking forward to training and fighting here.’
Donie Anglin said: ‘I’ve been hoping for this for over 30 years and it’s a real pleasure to finally see it happen.’
The gym will not be open to the public until early next month, so just a little bit more patience is needed. After such a long wait, that should not be a problem.