The 2012 Olympics may still be three years away but for three Cayman boxers it is on their minds daily.
Dariel Ebanks, Kendall Ebanks (no relation) and Jason Parchment all foster hopes of Olympic glory before turning pro after the London Games.
The trio took another step towards that ambition last week in the Bahamas as part of the Caribbean Awards Sports Icons week.
They arrived in Nassau last Wednesday and boxed with varying success the following night at the Champion Amateur Boxing Club on Wulff Road East in Nassau.
The original intended venue was not available but this one served its purpose adequately. A former virtually unused parking lot, the boxing club was created by owner Ray Minus, an ex-champion pro who is still heavily involved in boxing at 45.
Minus runs the gym with his wife Michelle who is a pro boxing promoter herself.
Light-welterweight Kendall Ebanks was first on the bill. The 19-year-old stylist, watched by his uncle Dayward, boxed an exhibition with the far more experienced and heavier Bahamian Reshield Williams.
Coach Nayon ‘Donie’ Anglin wisely decided that the bout should not be counted as an official one because of Williams’ considerable advantages.
It may have been an exhibition but they fought for real. The first two rounds were edged by Ebanks with him doing most of the work but he tired badly in the third and Williams won that clearly. A draw would have been the right decision. Ebanks did well. It was a good learning bout for him.
Welterweight Parchment faced the shorter, stockier Justin Sawyer in the next bout. Parchment, like his father Donie, is tall and rangy but he failed to use his height and reach advantages and was caught repeatedly by Sawyer’s swarming tactics.
Parchment received standing counts in the first and third rounds and despite loud appeals to use his jab to better effect from Donie, never got into a rhythm to do so.
In the light-heavyweight bout between Dariel Ebanks and Levi Messick the Caymanian had to deal with plenty of roughhouse tactics.
Dariel has superb footwork and timing. He is a classic counter-puncher and Messick immediately realised that so resorted to illegal hold and punch tactics whenever he could. Despite several warnings from the referee, Alvin Sergent, Messick got away with doing it throughout.
Ebanks was the clear winner at the end of a scrappy bout.
Wellington Miller, president of the Bahamas Olympic Association, hopes this is the start of a regular exchange with Cayman boxers.
He said: ‘What I like about this programme is the link between Bahamas and the Cayman Islands.
‘We have our senior boxers and also juniors and hope that we exchange a lot because there is no problem flying from here to Cayman and we can get a great programme going.
‘Your president would like us to come down there and have a tournament and we will oblige him right away.
‘This helps keep young men off the road and especially of the English-speaking Caribbean. This venue should have been the choice in the first place. It was in a populated area so people were able to come out and watch it, so maybe this might be the venue in the future.’
Randy Rankin is the president of the Cayman Islands Amateur Boxing Association. He said: ‘I feel Kendall’s fight was a draw. Jason could have done a little better and there are some areas we need to improve on. Dariel won but we still need to improve in some areas.
‘All in all I think this was a wonderful learning experience for all three. From here, we are going to move forward and invite these guys over in the near future, possibly January.
‘We want to keep our guys in the gym and motivated so that they can move on to better things.’