Boxer Hopkin Ebanks has arrived in Samoa after an exhausting two-day journey and will compete in the Youth Commonwealth Games there. The Games begin Monday and last for a week.
He left with coach Nayon “Donie” Anglin on Tuesday and is confident of doing well, having spent two months in a Miami training camp, holding his own against some of the region’s best fighters.
The boxer was at a press conference at the Comfort Suites with his cousin Tafari Ebanks on Monday to publicize the Elite Marble & Granite Fight Night at the Lions Centre on Oct. 17. Both will be matched against boxers from the Bahamas.
Hopkin claimed he “dominated” all his sparring partners in Miami. In his first official contest he gave his opponent an eight standing count in the first round and unanimously outpointed him. “I’m 6-0 right now and I’m trying to keep it up,” said Hopkin, who trains with Tafari at the D. Dalmain Ebanks Boxing Gymnasium at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
Although a relative novice, Hopkin has an extraordinary boxing talent. Training with Tafari helps enormously too.
“I’m training hard and the other boxers in the gym, when they see us, they see somebody they can look up to,” he said.
For this trip, he said he is in his best shape and is raring to go as a light-welterweight in the 71kg (156-pound) class.
After the Youth Commonwealth Games he is looking forward to much bigger events and hopes to join Tafari, 21, in major tournaments.
After the high level of the Miami training camp and quality of opponents in Samoa, Hopkin expects his Bahamian opponent to be “an easy fight.”
To underestimate an opponent is a dangerous attitude in boxing, but Hopkin believes he has every reason to think that way. Bahamas has a decent boxing set up and has produced some world-class professionals over the years.
Coaches Anglin and Norman Wilson have turned the amateur boxing scene around in recent years.
“When I first came here, boxers from Jamaica and the Bahamas used to say they loved fighting Cayman boxers, because they thought we were easy,” Wilson said. “But now they don’t love to fight Cayman because it’s not like that anymore.”
Wilson confirmed that Hopkin has “magnificent power” and was hurting older, more mature boxers in Miami. He said that after Hopkin knocked his opponent down in the first round, he was smashing him around the ring for the rest of the bout, which surprised the locals because they thought the 17-year-old Caymanian was in for a beating himself.
Anne-Marie Byrd, president of the Cayman Islands Boxing Association, said that the program has really risen recently, as well as the fitness program.
She is pleased that there are two boxers now in the elite program. “The training that Tafari is getting overseas, we’re really beginning to see the benefits. If you watch his last two fights, you will see the improvement.”
Byrd would like to see Hopkin spend time in a Cuban training camp when he returns from Samoa. She wants to put him in more shows as a buildup to the Rio Olympics next year and is confident he can qualify.
She said that there are around four others in the boxing program showing talent but funding overseas trips is an issue.
“These trips are expensive and we only have a limited amount of money so we have to keep them home,” Byrd said. “Hopkin and Tafari, we’re managing to handle their budget as best as we possibly can, but the challenges right now are the funding.”
So far there have been two local shows this year. After the Bahamas bill, the Ebanks cousins will be going to the Caribbean championships in November. Byrd added she would like to stage at least three local shows and one international show next year.