Cayman’s amateur boxing programme
has been in the doldrums for decades, partly because the boxing association was
pretty inactive, but mainly because there wasn’t a decent gym to nurture all
the pugilistic talent here.
That’s all changed since the
magnificent D. Dalmain Ebanks gym opened at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
The boxing association has a new, dynamic executive committee, headed by
president Thomas Ebanks, the stepson of Dalmain, who died in 2003.
The recent boxing show at the gym
attracted around 300 spectators who thoroughly enjoyed the eight bouts against
Bahamas and Jamaican fighters, of which Cayman won six. Three Caymanians –
Dariel Ebanks, Kendall Ebanks and Jason Parchment – hope to make the London
Olympics in 2012, and there are plenty more talented novices who look capable
of becoming world-class fighters if they stick with the programme. They include
Dwayne Anglin, Peter ‘Lightning’ Lewison, Alex ‘Ricky Hatton’ O’Keeffe, Aaron
Powell and Tafari Ebanks. Women like Tracey Seymour and Jessica
McFarlane-Richards are keen members of the boxing programme, too. The gym
really is all inclusive.
Head coach is Nayon ‘Donie’ Anglin
and his assistant is Stormin’ Norman Wilson, trainer of Cayman’s only world
class fighter, Charles ‘The Killa’ Whittaker. All three have been training the
youngsters in the gym for months, and their progress has been remarkable. Troy
O’Neil, Cayman’s most experienced amateur boxer, also helps out with coaching.
Thomas Ebanks intends to put on ten shows a year and take the boxers around the
Caribbean, the US and the rest of the world in the coming years. Cayman
politicians who have attended shows include Minister of Sport Mark Scotland, as
well as Mike Adam, Alden McLaughlin and Rolston Anglin, plus many other local
figures, including Joel Francis, Collin Anglin and Frank McField.
The boxing programme has great
support in the community. Main sponsors for the last show were Ministry of
Sports, Coconut Car Rental, the Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital and the
Ramada Grand Caymanian.
At the recent annual general
meeting, Thomas Ebanks was named president. Toni Greene remained as treasurer,
and Shernette Watson became the new assistant treasurer. Charles Whittaker was
voted in as the first vice-president, and Terrence Spencer is second
vice-president. Flynn Bush is secretary and Geannine Coulson is assistant secretary.
The four committee members are Jamal Young, Timothy Ebanks (Thomas’s brother),
Garth Ebanks and Phillmore Barnett.
It’s not just the amateurs who
enjoy the gym facilities Monday to Friday from 3pm. Schoolchildren are coached
in the rudiments from 3pm, and adults – women as well as men – use it from 5pm
until it closes at 8pm. Also, the ‘white collar’ boxers, office types (mostly
lawyers and bankers) who enjoy the training and once a year organise bouts
between themselves, are regulars there. Coach Donie said: “We’ve had a lot of
fresh interest in the past couple of weeks since the show and around 15 new members
have joined. The gym is busy every day which is great because it is big and
creates a nice atmosphere.
“The boxers are getting ready for a
show in Florida, probably on 20 November, against the West Palm Beach Boxing
Club and also for the white collar show on 2 December.
“Kendall Ebanks is almost ready to
resume intensive training after badly hurting his knee in a fall in July, and
Shari Walton, who was runner-up in the Miss Cayman pageant on Saturday, is keen
to train regularly with us. She is actually the step- granddaughter of Dalmain
and she trained for a time before the pageant to get into shape.
“Dariel popped his right shoulder
in his last fight and the X-rays have shown that he is in good shape now, but we’re
still going to give him an MRI scan to ensure there is no soft tissue around
the joint. That is going to cost nearly $1,000 so we need more members to join
and also more donations from kind supporters. Tracey and Jessica are hoping to
get matched on the Florida show, which is a good thing because we want to build
up the women’s programme.”
The annual D. Dalmain Ebanks
Invitational tournament is planned for March 2011, and plenty more shows and
activities around the club are in the works. The initiatives planned to raise
the club’s profile and boost coffers include a quarterly newsletter, fun run, a
calendar that sells advertising for every day of the year, membership IDs,
sportswear contracts and networking with boxing federations across the US and
the Caribbean. Membership is $10 for the year, and for the time being use of
the gym is free to members. Non-members pay $25 a month.