The tenacity and perseverance of the Cayman Islands Boxing Association is beginning to reap dividends. A group of Cayman boxers participated in the Caribbean Championships in St. Lucia last week and brought home three gold medals, four silvers and a bronze for their efforts.
Alexander Smith, 18, gave Cayman one of its gold medals, and he did it despite facing off against a hometown boxer. He fought Travis Stanislaus of St. Lucia in Friday’s final and returned to Cayman on Tuesday evening bearing the pride of a champion in his chosen discipline.
“It felt so good,” said Mr. Smith, one of several Cayman boxers who participated in a two-week training camp in London prior to the tournament. “All the work paid off, from training, sweating and losing weight.”
The other gold medals came from Brandy Barnes and Chambria Dalhouse, while 14-year-old Neandra Forbes Morgan came home with a silver from the first proper tournament experience of her life.
Another trio of Cayman competitors – Keanu McField Jackson, Aaron Miller and Deandre Rowe – were making their international debuts and came away with silver medals. Dariel Ebanks, one of Cayman’s most experienced boxers in his weight class, earned a bronze medal.
Mr. Smith said the team’s success was forged in the crucible of a challenging training camp. “It was exciting. We learned and grew together,” said Mr. Smith, who competes in the bantamweight class. “We learned from each other what our weaknesses are. We helped to build each other up.”
Mr. Smith, who plans on attending the University College of the Cayman Islands in January, said that he used the London training camp to concentrate on his movement and his jabbing. Ironically, despite working less on landing power shots, he logged his first knockout in the tournament final.
Coach Ryan Barrett has said that Mr. Smith learned and matured a lot in the span of a year, improving from his first appearance at the Caribbean Championships and earning a gold medal in his second. When Mr. Smith looks back on his past year, he cannot help but take stock of how far he has come in that time.
“I would say that last December, I was not really good,” he said. “I had picked up the Caribbean style of trying to knock out the person. Now, I’ve picked up the style of being patient and moving around.”