The flourishing amateur boxing scene is set to lose its dynamic president Terence Spencer, who is moving to Atlanta, Georgia for a career promotion.
Spencer, who took over the post in August 2012, made some notable changes to the Cayman Islands Boxing Association during his spell.
He said, “I would like to thank the Cayman Islands Boxing Association board, executives of International Amateur Boxing Association and the American Boxing Confederation, as well as the Ministry of Sports, Olympic Committee and all program sponsors for your tireless efforts throughout my tenure.
“I am sure you will continue to ensure our youth receive the utmost support, recognition and edification to perform at the highest levels locally and abroad in boxing.”
Vice-President Ann-Marie Byrd takes over as interim president until the next boxing association elections. Coaches are Nayon “Donie” Anglin, Norman Wilson and Troy O’Neil.
Spencer, 32, has been involved in boxing for over 18 years, the majority of which he spent as an elite international boxer. He achieved an impressive record of 25 wins and only one loss.
Four years ago, he moved into an executive administration role serving on the board as second vice-president under the previous administration headed by former president Tommy Ebanks.
An oil and gas executive consultant, Spencer is leaving after 10 years in Cayman where he was the regional operations manager for Rubis and country manager for Chevron.
There were many highlights during his presidency, one of which was having the first constitution endorsed and passed by the International Amateur Boxing Association.
He also helped the two best boxers, Tafari Ebanks and Kendall Ebanks reach world-class level, sending them to major tournaments and tough training camps to ensure they closed the gap with the world’s elite.
Spencer also created an official Cayman Islands national boxing team, junior national team and made Tafari the national team captain.
He is also proud that he established a strong relationship with Cuba which paved the way for Cuba’s best boxers to compete in Cayman against local boxers four months ago in a show at the Lions Centre.
“We also had our boxers accepted into the Cuban national boxing facility, which no other country has ever been allowed to do in their history,” Spencer said.
A golden future awaits Tafari, 19, and Kendall, 23, Spencer predicts. “If they continue along the same path and ensure their commitment to the sport and their development is unyielding, they will most certainly be two of the greatest athletes and Olympic champions anyone will ever see,” he said.
“This sentiment has been and always will be a testament to what I know and believe that they are capable of. They are two young Caymanians that will absolutely change this country through sport come the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
“They will most certainly become world champions at amateur and professional level and I cannot say it any more definitive than that.
“Since Tafari is the captain, he will lead Cayman to Olympic glory and he is truly blessed with the talent, ability and drive to surpass all expectations when he reaches the peak of his maturity and it will be an amazing sight for the world to watch.”
The after-school program has become so popular, it is going better than when first created a few years back.
“Class participation numbers have dramatically increased since we designed an even better skills and physical development program than before and added more structure to how we execute it on a daily basis,” Spencer said.
“We still have room for improvement but the youth are realizing the benefits of it almost instantaneously. Case in point, we had Hopkins Ebanks, who came into the program very much out of shape and not athletic either.
“He is now on our junior national team, is undefeated and has lost almost 30 pounds and he has been in the program only six months.” He added, “The after-school program is very much needed in our society and the boxing aspect is one of the most critical portions given the amount of participants and the impact it has.
“It would be a disservice to our youth to cut or remove the program as it has shown tremendous results in the attitudes and behavior of the children involved in it.”
On the Cayman-Cuba show in September, the first two bouts involved Extended After School participants. First up were 12-year-olds Finn Millward and Callum Smith. They showed impressive basic skills and, after two rounds, Millward got the verdict.
Bruce Lee Coulson fought Sean Rankin in an all-action encounter next, with Coulson winning on points. Coulson’s forte is kick boxing but Rankin has already shown he is a hard hitting, athletic boxer with a bright future.
Another prodigy coming through the junior team is Diego Rodriguez, who Spencer expects to be the next national team captain after the Rio Olympics and is already arguably the most talented out of all.
“Diego is only 16 and can keep up in the ring with Tafari and Kendall. He has already been assessed and recognized by AIBA technical advisor and Cuban boxing coaching legend Professor Jesus Dominguez as great potential for the 2020 Olympics.
“Professor Dominguez’s last words to me prior to leaving Cayman was: ‘Whatever you do, make sure you keep Diego in the program. He is very special.’”
Spencer is pleased that Hopkins, Tafari’s cousin, is one of the most committed kids in the D Dalmain Ebanks gym. “He has all the heart of an outstanding boxer and is expected to do exceptionally well in upcoming competitions.”