Cayman’s amateur boxers brought home four medals from the 2019 Caribbean Boxing Championships in Trinidad and Tobago. Four of the five athletes participating returned with hardware – earning one gold, two silver and one bronze medal. “I cannot emphasise enough how proud I am of these boxers. They performed so well in the ring and represented Cayman professionally outside of the ring,” said Cayman Islands Boxing Association president Leyla Jackson, upon the boxers’ return Tuesday morning, when they were greeted at Owen Roberts International Airport by family, friends and government officials. Jackson also participated as an international technical official for the competition.

On day one of the competition, which took place 4-9 Dec., Cayman’s Jon Mikol Rankin took on Keith Major of the Bahamas in the 75kg novice elite category. Within the first minute of the fight, Rankin connected with a devastating shot to the face of the Bahamian, forcing the referee to stop the contest, resulting in a first round TKO for the Caymanian prospect. With the win, Rankin advanced to the final against Trinidad’s Trevor Barrett. Both fought three hard rounds, with Rankin having some succcess, but in the end, Barrett edged Rankin in a split decision, leaving the Caymanian with a silver medal.

Brandy Barnes has two golds under her belt from previous appearances at the Caribbean Boxing Championship but met her match this time around. Barnes faced off against hometown boxer Jewel Lambert in the 51kg elite division. The women took the fight to each other, but it was Lambert whose hand was raised by the referee at the end in a unanimous decision.

Theodore Kelly Jr. won his first bout by walkover after his Trinidad and Tobago opponent failed to make weight, automatically advancing him to face Moses Kemrond of Grenada in the day two final. This was Kelly’s first official boxing match and he took it to Kemrond, cracking his opponent with some crisp head shots, but when the final bell rang, the judges ruled a split decision in favour of the Grenada native.

Jaden Eccleston only had one opponent to face in the novice 91kg division opponent so his first and only bout was for gold. Motivated by the prospect of earning a gold medal, Eccleston came forward with his hands low, provoking his opponent Sammy Mercel of Trinidad and Tobago to throw a punch. However, Mercel missed his target, prompting Eccleston to a counter with a hook that left Mercel on shaky legs. The referee then gave a standing 10 count, waving off the local boxer and earning Eccleston a first-round stoppage to take gold. “It feels good; this gold encourages me to work harder, but this is just the start. I’m looking forward to going to the national championships next year,” Eccleston told the Cayman Compass upon his return. “I need to drop weight, though. I have to go down because these guys are too big, although they are all falling.”

While most of the Cayman boxers enjoyed some level of success at the tournament, Briana Kerr was left unable to compete due to registration concerns surrounding her prospective Guyanese opponent. “Unfortunately, lack of bouts for female boxers is a constant challenge in the region,” Jackson of CIBA said, adding, “Kerr was still an excellent addition to the team, providing support to her fellow teammates.”

The competition marks the fourth consecutive year that Cayman has returned home carrying at least one gold medal. Dariel Ebanks won in 2016, Brandy Barnes and Alexander Smith were victorious in 2017, and Barnes repeated last year. “This is a real testament to the athletes themselves but also to the work that Coach Floyd (Trumpet) and the other coaches working in the gym are putting in to build a real team philosophy,” Jackson said.

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