Cayman’s finest, Brandy “Bee” Barnes, is set to take on some of the world’s best female amateur boxers from Nov. 15-24 at the AIBA Women’s World Championships in New Delhi, India.
Ms. Barnes, 22, has represented the territory well recently, winning a gold medal in St. Lucia last December at the Caribbean Championships.
But with boxers from countries around the globe coming to New Delhi, the competition Ms. Barnes will face starting Thursday will be a cut above what she’s faced in the past, according to her coach, Stuart O’Connor.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for Brandy,” Mr. O’Connor said. “It’s a chance to compete against the top athletes in the world.”
Before leaving on their long trek to India, Mr. O’Connor put his athlete through daily, high-intensity interval workouts last month to prepare her for the energy needed in the ring.
Mr. O’Connor, who is from England, said one of the challenges of training in Cayman is a lack of partners for Ms. Barnes to spar with. Therefore, the two left for a training camp in the U.K. about three weeks ago.
Even if she does not win, India will give Ms. Barnes a chance for high-quality training, Mr. O’Connor said.
“If we do win and we continue to compete, brilliant,” he said. “But if it’s a case where we are unsuccessful, then it will be a great opportunity to gain further training camps whilst we’re in India against other girls that have been beaten as well, to try to get more competitive sparring.”
After India, Mr. O’Connor said he plans on taking his athlete to Trinidad for another training camp. There, Ms. Barnes will prepare to defend her gold medal at the Caribbean Championships next month.
“From there, we can see how we stand against the other Caribbean countries,” Mr. O’Connor said. “But this will be Brandy’s opportunity to again be crowned the Caribbean champion, and that’s something we’ll have a great opportunity of doing.”
All this training and competition is being done with an eye on larger goals, he said.
“It’s all part of her progression to hopefully move forward to major competitions like the Pan American Games and the Olympics in 2020,” the coach said. “The main thing we’re looking to try and achieve is 2020 qualification.”
Ms. Barnes, for her part, said she hopes her success inspires other Caymanian female athletes to lace up the gloves and enter the ring.
“I feel like I have a responsibility to pave the way for other female boxers,” she said. “There were female boxers before me, and I did look up to them. But for myself, I’d like to progress and open wider doors and show them this can be done. You can be a female and be successful in this sport.”
Journalist Alvaro Serey contributed to reporting on this story.