New focus as boxers head to London training camp

L-R: Dariel Ebanks, Brandy Barnes, Hopkin Ebanks, Alexander Smith.

A quartet of amateur boxers left Monday (2 October) for an intensive two-month training camp in London ahead of the Caribbean championships in December, with the Cayman Islands Boxing Association indicating its primary focus right now is getting boxers ready for the regional tournament and will postponed a planned fight night originally scheduled for late October.

Making the trip are Dariel Ebanks, Hopkin Ebanks, Alexander Smith and Brandy Barnes. They will be joined later by emerging talent Nathaan Hayles.

While in London, they will be settled into their training routine by national boxing coach Ryan Barret, who has organised international sparring and competition for them. They will also undergo medicals, as well as physio and a military fitness training programme. Strictly controlled nutritional plans are also being implemented for the fighters.

Dariel Ebanks, who on an earlier trip to the British capital earned the nickname “Super D” after being a standout on various boxing cards, was pumped about re-joining Barrett for training camp. “It was a great trip the last time around, so I’m expecting a little bit more this time. Ryan is always full of surprises, so you never know what he’s going to bring out,” Ebanks told moments before departure.

Dariel Ebanks (file photo)

The southpaw, who has racked up 50 amateur wins in his career, has his eyes firmly locked on the prize at the upcoming Caribbean championships and the Commonwealth Games in Australia next year.

“I’m going over there to train and fight. I’ll probably get three or four fights out there but mostly going there to train. “I would like to get a medal in both competitions. You always want to medal. You always want to win. That’s the goal right there,” he said.

Hopkin Ebanks, who also trained in London ahead of world championship qualifying, was ready to get back into action at Gumsheild Gym. “This time around, I plan to look for greatness, train hard and be dedicated. I’ve been looking at different ways I could get better,” he said.

The 19-year-old said an improved relationship with Barrett could mean bigger things for him down the road and is ready to be reunited with him after a couple of months apart.

“My coach and I have a better bond now. He saw my mistakes in the World Championships and he sees that I have a lot of potential when I fought one of the best in the world. So, I just plan on getting better and working on hitting harder and breaking down people’s defences.”

Barnes, a 21-year-old looking to give her amateur career a kickstart, was ready for the challenges that lay ahead as she prepares to get her first competitive bouts under her belt.

“Just the environment and the intense training – everything that I’m not used to. It just means a lot more training, a lot more focused and improving overall,” said Barnes, whose father represented the Cayman Islands at the 1994 Commonwealth Games – a route she’s poised to follow.

Brandy Barnes (red) in action at the CIBA’s recent family fun day. Photo courtesy CIBA


Alexander Smith, a 19-year-old with two amateur wins to his name, said he hopes the experience will get him in peak condition ahead of the Caribbean championships.  “I’m looking forward to getting more experience, more fights down there and prepare for St Lucia,” he said.

Smith, who recently competed at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas has already identified the areas where he has targeted for improvement. “I need to work on my technique, my fitness and to get more power behind my shots,” he told

Dariel Ebanks, the veteran of the group at 32 years-old, said the London experience will be a good one for the newer fighters. “They’re going to see what a real training camp is like. They’re going to see real fighters in the ring, so it’s going to be a real experience for them.”

The CIBA is hoping to send at least eight fighters to the championships in December. Other prospects are unable to attend the camp in London and will continue to train locally. Plans are in the works to bring in international coaching and sparring for these athletes.

Nathaan Hales is a prospect to keep your eyes on.

Barrett will also return for two weeks later this month. His visit will coincide with a visit from international boxing expert and highest ranked Caribbean Technical Official James Beckles.

“During this time, Mr Beckles will work with our coaches Nayon Anglin, Ryan Barrett, Rogerio Pitta and Tristan Wesenhagan, as well as with Association Members, sponsors and key stakeholders, to structure both our national team training and our after-school and community outreach to help us modernise and upgrade the programmes,” said CIBA president Leyla Jackson.

“We believe that this strategy will stand us in an excellent position for increasing our presence at the Caribbean Championships. It also puts us on a solid footing towards our training strategy for the Commonwealth Games in April 2018, as three of the boxers who are going to the training camp in London now, have been entered for the Commonwealth Games,” Jackson added.

CIBA Vice President Mike Laurenson of Elite Marble and Granite, which is sponsoring the national team athletes to attend the London training camp, said he was confident this strategy is an excellent way to obtain results both in St Lucia and towards the Commonwealth Games next year.

“The international competition and exposure that the boxers get in London is the best way to prepare them for major international competition but, at the same time, we need to ensure that the boxers who have responsibilities here are not overlooked. We think that this way, we are providing the best opportunities for everyone and we are excited to see this reflected in our results. Fight Night 5 will see some great talent, stemming from the hard work that is going on behind the scenes,” Laurenson said.

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