Kendall was punch perfect

Like young soldiers preparing for the next battle, barely had they got over their last encounter than they had to start preparing for the next clash.

Cayman’s boxers fought three weeks ago and will be in action again at the D. Dalmain Ebanks gym on 9 April.

This time Jamaica is sending over around eight fighters from the appropriately named Bruising Gym in Stony Hill, Kingston.

One local fighter sure to be on top of his game is light-welterweight Kendall Ebanks who outpointed Efi Jimy Croes of Aruba on the last show.

It was never going to be easy for Ebanks who faced a far more experienced and seasoned opponent, but he fought superbly, giving Croes two standing counts and comprehensively out boxing the always dangerous visitor to take his record to 10-2.

All the hours of hard work with coaches Donie Anglin, Norman ‘Stormin’ Wilson, Charles ‘The Killa’ Whittaker and Troy O’Neil are paying off. Their focus at the moment is to prepare the top level boxers for the Pan American qualifiers from 30 April to 7 May.

“I found Croes pretty difficult, he was smart and fast,” said Kendall. “We both have the same fighting style, which is to outsmart the other opponent. He is definitely a good fighter and I expected him to be. He had a lot of experience over me but I came into the fight knowing I had to be smarter, faster and stronger to win and that’s what I did.”

Ebanks was hampered with a knee injury last summer yet he still went to the gym diligently with his bad leg resting on a box. The perseverance paid off, as well as the extra roadwork to ensure he didn’t run out of gas as he tended to in previous bouts. “I really put it down to the extra work I’ve been putting in the gym, pushing myself harder than I used to.

“Also the extra running. I make sure that I get in a run every morning now at least three or four miles. In the gym I try to push across my limit. When I’m tired Charles pushes me to work even harder and that has helped a lot to bring my fitness to another level.”

Ebanks, 20, works with Captain Marvin’s Watersport company, his family business. “I’m out on the water every day with the tourists enjoying the breeze and the stingrays – and let’s not forget the hot sun!”

He has high ambitions for this year. “My first step is to qualify for the Pan American Games. Next is to go to the Games and try to get a gold medal. I’m not aiming for anything less than that.

“I believe in the talent God has provided me with and the trainers he has given me, to get me there, so that’s the mark I have set. I’m not sure of other upcoming competitions but that’s what we are aiming for now. Anything else that comes up and the coaches feel we need to approach it then we will.”

Most boxers struggle to keep their weight down in between contests, Ebanks is not one of them though. “From the time I started boxing I’ve always found my weight easy to maintain. I actually dropped weight for my last fight. I think I was on it about two weeks before. Norman told me I needed to be 138lb and I was right on point the day of the weigh in, no problem.”

Kendall likes the way the coaches have developed his all-action style. “As we progress in the gym the coaches add different skills to our fight game such as footwork, better ways to slip and roll from a punch, different punches from different angles, combinations, ways to block and counter. Definitely things that makes a difference when we step into the ring. As Norman said to me after the Aruba fight: ‘Imagine if you didn’t know the shuffle hook’. That helped me a lot in that fight.”

Blessed with a supportive family, Ebanks is grateful that they take a keen interest. “My biggest influence would have to be my family, Donie and my uncle Denward.

They were the start of it all but my other aunts and uncles are fully behind me too, they help me to stay focused and support me during fight night and during preparation time.

“Denward and my mom Chrissie are a big part of my team. I have to show my appreciation to Denward. He travels with me for every fight no matter where it’s at. Every night and every morning he’s checking and asking: ‘Did you do your run, did you rest properly, make sure you eat properly’.”

Coach Anglin said: “Kendall has been more focused in training and it showed against Croes. He still has a lot more developing to do but that fight was good experience. Croes was the best fighter he had faced. I saw Croes in the Caribbean championships and knew he would test Kendall.”