The Island Games commence in Jersey next week and if had there been a boxing competition, Kendall Ebanks would have entered.
There is, though, a triathlon competition, but Ebanks has been in that sport seriously for only a year, and although he could have gone, finances would not allow it.
That has not diminished the 24-year-old West Bayer’s determination to get to next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in either discipline. Having formed the Flashy Nation Sports Club three years ago to help other athletes get fitter in whatever sport they choose, be it running, cycling, boxing or swimming, Ebanks is pleased with its growth locally and hopes to make it a global phenomenon eventually.
To gauge his progress, Ebanks intends to compete in an Olympic-distance triathlon in the U.S. – probably the World Triathlon Series in Chicago at the end of September. If not, he will pick one of many high standard triathlons in Florida, although Chicago’s is a lot bigger and more prestigious.
“I want to put my name in Chicago and really test myself,” Ebanks said. “The biggest of the biggest will be in that race. I know I’m not up there with them yet, but that’s the plan, to train around them, be around them and pick up tips.”
Triathlon has become another sporting love for the light-welterweight fighter. He still has a long way to go, fully aware that world-class competitors complete the Olympic distance of 1,500 meter swim, 40k bike and 10k run in under two hours. “But they allow the bikes to draft [riding behind the leader to reduce wind resistance] which shaves off a lot of time,” he said. “In Cayman, it’s strictly non-drafting, so our times are slower.”
His best Olympic-distance triathlon so far is 2 hours, 36 minutes, in Florida a few months ago. The intention was to get inside 2:30, “but I blew out my knee.”
The Florida triathlon was a good learning curve. His 53 minute run was slow partly because of the busted knee. A 40 minute run is well within his capabilities. World class athletes like the British brothers Alistair and Jonny Brownlee do it in 28.
After years of running and supreme cardio training for elite boxing, endurance is not a problem. That was confirmed when he completed the grueling Mercuryman 70.3 half-ironman of 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and half marathon distance of 13.1 miles in 5 hours 30 minutes in East End in January. The farthest he had run was two half marathons, and that was just weeks before.
“I know what it takes to operate at the highest level, having been in boxing camps with the world’s best. I’m still in boxing, but right now Flashy Nation Sports Club’s Boxfit is my focus,” he said.
Classes run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening at the Dalmain Ebanks Boxing Gym at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. The next six-week course starts on July 6.
Ebanks barely has time in waking hours to draw breath because he teaches personal training classes.
“Lots of kids are inspired by Flashy Nation. At school I wasn’t academic but loved sports and still want to be a professional athlete. I could go pro now in boxing, but I want to make the Olympics first, either in boxing or triathlon.”
Another reason for his devotion to a healthy, sporty lifestyle is that Ebanks is a role model to son Kaydin, 6, who is already adept at football, mini-triathlons and sprinting, and his boxing drills resemble a budding pro.
Kaydin is looking forward to the third annual Flashy Nation New Day 5k, at the Holiday Inn on July 19. Junior insists that the kids’ race is not phased out.
There are 5k runs nearly every weekend, so Ebanks came up with a unique selling point by giving it a superheroes theme. There are always numerous Spiderman, Catwoman, Batman, Superman and Invincibles outfits. Cayman is never more prepared to tackle villains. From the tiniest entrants to most senior, many get into the spirit and in costume. Last year Ebanks didn’t do the obvious and turn up as Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Mike Tyson or Muhammad Ali but donned a fetching Uncle Sam outfit, complete with skyscraper hat. This year he is toying with a Ninja Turtle ensemble.
Last year the run raised money for the Department of Children and Family Services and this time it’s for the Special Needs Foundation.
The kids’ sprint race was keenly contested last year. “It’s going to be good again,” Ebanks said. “Flashy Nation is really taking off and continuing to grow. If you want to live a fitter, healthier lifestyle, this is what Flashy Nation is about. Gives you a lot of discipline.”
There is a social scene too – it’s usually breakfast joints rather than late night bars that get their service. They had a barbecue at the end of the May Classics cycling events.
Pushing mental and physical limits is what Ebanks strives for. That’s helped by a rivalry with training partner Kevin Connolly.
So far for Ebanks, his best moment in competition was a sprint finish with Connolly when the boxer was vomiting as they rushed to the line.
They had a sprint finish at last year’s Cayman Islands half marathon which Connolly fractionally won. The rivalry usually helps achieve that most satisfactory of endings – personal best times.
If getting a berth at the Rio Games is not achieved, Ebanks will battle on for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
By then triathlon may be his primary sport “because I love how you push beyond your limit. People enjoy that. I never get nervous before a triathlon, unlike boxing.”