Grapplers looked up to the stars

It looked like an extremely difficult task to pull off well, but in the end, Bob Daigle managed it with aplomb.  

The karate instructor who had a world renowned school in the 90s has relaunched his martial arts projects and organised Cayman’s first ever grappling tournament at the Dalmain Ebanks Boxing Gym on Saturday.  

Brought in from Las Vegas were two superstars of the mixed martial arts scene. The day started with three-time national amateur kickboxing champion Danny Davis Jr, teaching a Muay Thai kickboxing seminar before Derek Weaver, a North American grappling champion taught Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  

Three days earlier the two champs conducted two seminars at the Clifton Hunter High School, paid for by the Ministry of Education, which was enthusiastically received by the kids, some of whom showed exceptional talent.  

The seminars had a truly international flavour as a team of six came over from Cayman Brac and there were competitors from the Bahamas, Honduras and Jamaica.  

The grappling competition afterwards were all keenly and sportingly fought. Rogue Gym had a number of competitors, including instructor Flloyd Moxam who battled with local favourite Leif Ristimaki but lost closely on points. Ristimaki won gold in the advanced open class. 
Other gold medal winners were Robert Campbell in the middleweight novice division, Elvin Cruz (Honduras) in the novice lightweight category and Marloen Cerrato who also came from the Honduras who won the novice heavyweights.  

Slavik Moskalev is a Russian martial arts expert with extensive military background who has lived in Jamaica for 16 years, running his own security company and gym in Kingston.  

“I have nearly 40 years martial arts experience, since I was seven years old,” Moskalev said. “I like to explore different styles every five or six years and adapt to new trends on the streets.” He was pleased with this event and intends to forge ties for future events. 

Anver Moxey came from the Bahamas. He works for a financial trading company in hedge funds. Moxey has trained in judo and Chinese kickboxing and is also the strength and conditioning coach for mixed martial arts in the Bahamas where the sport is growing.  

“There is a lot of traditional martial arts in the Bahamas and now what we’re trying to get into is the mixed martial arts, which is less traditional, more of the fighting, grappling, stand-up and take-downs and on the floor,” he said. “We were invited by Bob. He reached out to my instructor, Dr Kent Bazard and I came willingly.” 

Carrato is from the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, where he is a kickboxing instructor. “I came to learn the basics of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and to join with the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands to form a Caribbean organisation,” Carrato said. The fact that he won a gold medal helped make the trip worthwhile and he certainly intends to keep in touch with new-found colleagues.  

Justin French brought over fighters from Cayman Brac. “We had six over, including myself and it’s been a phenomenal experience for us all,” French said. “It was a great opportunity to represent Cayman Brac and ourselves and we did well.  

“I did karate with Bob years ago and we worked very well together. He’s definitely started a good thing here and based on what I’ve seen from one of our competitors, Frank Elwin came third but if he had not busted his finger I think he could have come out higher.  

“Other than that we take what we can get and hopefully he’ll do better. I want to thank all our sponsors who helped us out. They are Cayman Airways, West End Texaco, Coconut Car Rentals, Sunrise Realty, Jr’s Lawn Care and Berry’s Golden Jerk, and an anonymous sponsor who provided accommodations. Moses Kirkconnell sponsored our first set of training gear. 

“I had been contemplating starting a mixed martial arts programme in Cayman Brac for the last two years and now Bob and I have come back into partnership and really got it together, this is the first time these guys have engaged in anything like this.  

Davis said: “It was really awesome. Everyone in Grand Cayman has been very welcoming and it’s great to see the sport of MMA grow and everyone is so eager and enthusiastic to learn.  

“Everyone did well and was really competitive but still had great sportsmanship and it was great to see that. MMA is still at a young stage in the Caribbean and even though people are aware of it, it’s still growing with their talent and their skills and it’s great to see people from the Bahamas, Jamaica, Honduras and Cayman Brac come out, travel and show us how excited they are about the sport. 
“And we still have some ways to go, but man, they are learning fast, I don’t doubt that in the future we won’t see these guys come out and see these guys in the UFC and Strikeforce pretty soon.” 

Davis next fights in California on 28 July and he enjoyed this break before he goes back into training camp.  

“My introduction into the Cayman Islands has been absolutely beautiful,” said Weaver. “I couldn’t have asked for a better reception, we saw some of the island, met some locals, worked on MMA, Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai – it was a dream come true. 

“I think the potential for the Cayman Islands in MMA is phenomenal. Today, we saw a 14-year-old with no previous experience do really well and others too. They could all gain in discipline from that and we saw a lot of enthusiasm from everybody who came.  

“There were people from Jamaica, Honduras and the Bahamas who also had a great time. “It doesn’t take much twisting of an arm to get a free vacation out here to the beautiful Cayman Islands. But beside, it’s something we love to do anyway, teaching an instruct and Bob’s treated great, got us lovely accommodation from Villas of the Galleon.”  

Tireless Daigle took his guests to watch UFC 147 that night at Aqua Beach and then hosted them on a boat trip on Sunday. “The grappling event and seminars far exceeded my expectations,” he beamed. “Danny and Derek said that this was one of the most amazing experiences of their careers, especially the seminars with the Clifton Hunter kids. They think that the potential for MMA to grow in the Cayman Islands and the rest of the Caribbean is enormous and they look forward to returning.  

“Special thanks to Cayman Airways, the major sponsor of these seminars and grappling competition. Without their support this event would not have been possible. Also thank you too to Burger King, Cayman Kickboxing Academy, BIS, the Government, Coconut Car rentals, Red Bull, Bud Light and Villas of the Galleon for providing accommodations for Derek and Danny and Aqua Beach for their support.  

“Everyone is happy, especially the Brac team. Who would have thought that Frank Martinez-Elwin would win a bronze medal after only one day’s instruction!” 

daigle and davis

Bob Daigle and Danny Davis Jr. had a fantastic time.

leif seminar grappling

Leif Ristimaki was the open class winner.

weaver seminar grappling

Derek Weaver passed on many tips to an appreciative international audience. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD