Cayman's amateur boxing programme has been in the doldrums for decades, partly because the boxing association was pretty inactive but mainly because there wasn't a decent gym to nurture all the pugilistic talent here.
That's all changed since the magnificent D. Dalmain Ebanks gym opened at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. The boxing association has a new, dynamic executive committee, headed by president Thomas Ebanks, the step-son of Dalmain who died in 2003.
The recent boxing show at the gym attracted around 300 spectators who thoroughly enjoyed the eight bouts against Bahamas and Jamaican fighters of which Cayman won six. Three Caymanians - Dariel Ebanks, Kendall Ebanks and Jason Parchment - hope to make the London Olympics in 2012 and there are plenty more talented novices who look capable of becoming world class fighters if they stick with the programme. They include Dwayne Anglin, Peter 'Lightning' Lewison, Alex 'Ricky Hatton' O'Keeffe, Aaron Powell and Tafari Ebanks. Women like Tracey Seymour and Jessica McFarlane-Richards are keen members of the boxing programme too. The gym really is all inclusive.
Head coach is Nayon 'Donie' Anglin and his assistant is Stormin' Norman Wilson, trainer of Cayman's only world class fighter, Charles 'The Killa' Whittaker. All three have been training the youngsters in the gym for months and their progress has been remarkable. Troy O'Neil, Cayman's most experienced amateur boxer, also helps out with coaching. Thomas Ebanks intends to put on 10 shows a year and take the boxers around the Caribbean, US and the rest of the world in the coming years. Cayman politicians who have attended shows include Minister of Sport Mark Scotland as well as Mike Adam, Alden McLaughlin and Rolston Anglin, plus many other local figures including Joel Francis, Collin Anglin and Frank McField.
The boxing programme has great support in the community. Main sponsors for the last show were Ministry of Sports, Coconut Car Rental, the Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital and the Ramada Grand Caymanian.
At the recent annual general meeting Thomas Ebanks became the president.Toni Greene remained as the treasurer and Shernette Watson became the new assistant treasurer. Charles Whittaker was voted in as the first vice-president and Terrence Spencer the second vice-president. Flynn Bush became the secretary and Geannine Coulson the assistant secretary. The four committee members are now Jamal Young, Timothy Ebanks (Thomas's brother), Garth Ebanks and Phillmore Barnett.
It's not just the amateurs who enjoy the gym facilities Monday to Friday from 3pm. School children get coached in the rudiments from 3-pm and adults - women as well as men - use it from 5pm until it closes at 8pm. Also the 'white collar' boxers, office types (mostly lawyers and bankers) who enjoy the training and once a year organise bouts between themselves, are regulars there.
The annual D. Dalmain Ebanks Invitational tournament is planned for March 2011 and plenty more shows and activities around the club are planned. The initiatives planned to raise the club's profile and boost coffers include a quarterly newsletter, fun run, calendar that sells advertising for every day of the year, membership IDs, sportswear contracts and networking with boxing federations across the US and the Caribbean. Membership is $10 for the year and for the time being use of the gym is free to members. Non-members pay $25 a month.