World-famous fighter Manny Pacquiao helped break ground on a proposed new boxing facility in Bodden Town on Saturday morning.
The Philippines senator and boxing legend said he hoped the gym would help nurture a future champion from the Cayman Islands.
“I myself come from humble beginnings, and it was because of sports facilities like this I was able to meet the people who saw my potential, took me under their wing and provided the best facilities for me to train and to be inspired and motivated to pursue my dream of being a world champion,” he told a large crowd who turned out for the ceremony.
Mr. Pacquiao joined officials including Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden and Premier Alden McLaughlin as they wielded golden shovels to mark the occasion.
Mr. Bodden said the project would bring a state-of-the-art boxing gym to the area, providing an upgraded alternative to the George Town boxing gym for people in the eastern districts.
SDKA International, the multinational company that helped bring Pacquiao to the Cayman Islands, will provide equipment, including a boxing ring for the facility, Mr. Bodden said. Upgrades to the basketball and netball courts and new stands for the football field are also planned for the Haig Bodden complex.
He said the project is currently going through the planning process, and he hopes the gym will be open by the end of the year.
“We felt it was good value for money to put a gym here in Bodden Town and make it more feasible and practical for young people on this side of the island to have access to such a facility.”
He said the project was made possible through a partnership with the Cayman Islands Boxing Association and key sponsors like SDKA and Elite Marble and Granite.
Mr. Pacquiao said it was an honor to be involved in the ceremony.
“Even with my status as boxing champion, I feel it is still my duty to inspire and encourage all the aspiring fighters to aim high and pursue their dreams,” he said.
Matthew Leslie, who organized the fighter’s visit, said he believes the gym could help Cayman find its own Manny Pacquiao.
The plans are for the gym to be a two-storey facility that will include the ring, brought into the island by SDKA International for Saturday night’s Island Rumble event. It will also include exercise equipment and be open to the public. Mr. Bodden said it had been his dream for a long time to have a first class boxing facility to service the eastern districts.