Pacquiao helps break ground on new BT boxing gym

Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao donned a hardhat and held a gold shovel as he joined local official to break ground on a boxing gym in Bodden Town on Saturday, 7 January, saying he looks forward to the day “when the Cayman Islands can be the home of tomorrow great boxing champions”.

The facility will be a modernised version of the Dalmain Ebanks Boxing Gym in George Town and be part of a full-fledged sporting complex that already has some elements in place.

“It’s an honour to have been invited to this ground-breaking ceremony for the boxing gym, which will serve as a good training ground for discovering and eventually nurturing the careers of aspiring boxing champions,” said Pacquiao, the reigning World Boxing Organization welterweight champion, who was on island for the Island Rumble Boxing Challenge.

“As you might know, I came from humble beginnings and it was because of sports facilities like this that I was able to meet the right people who saw my potential, took me under their wings and provided me with the best facilities – not just to train but to be inspired and motivated to pursue my dreams of becoming a world champion.”

Manny Pacquiao joins local officials to turn soil on the Bodden Town boxing gym.

Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden said he hoped the facility would be completed by yearend, although the necessary planning approvals are yet to be granted. Mr Bodden said it would serve the people of the eastern districts and allow the Cayman Islands Boxing Association to expand its programme across the island beyond its base in George Town.

“We felt it was good value for money to put a gym here, in Bodden Town, which would service the eastern districts and make it that much more feasible and practical for young people on this side of the island to have access to such a facility,” said Mr Bodden.

“In building this temple of sporting excellence, we hope to develop the discipline, skills and raw talent to nurture outstanding homegrown boxing talent,” he added.

Conceptual rendering of planned boxing gym in Bodden Town.

The overall upgrade of the Haig Bodden Sports Complex, which has already been granted budget approval, includes upgrading the stands at the football field and building changing rooms, as well as covering the netball and basketball courts, while adding a third hardcourt.

The Bodden Town MLA described the upgrades as a plan in motion, adding “nothing, unless God intervenes, will stop it from happening.”

The ring used in the Island Rumble was sponsored by Dubai-based SDKA International and will be used in the new gym. “As this gym opens up, SDKA International/SDKA Securities will continue its commitment to boxing by equipping this gym with much-needed equipment to enhance the youth facilities on this side of the island, which is greatly needed,” said Matthew Leslie, SDKA representative and Island Rumble promoter.

WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao signs autographs for fans.

After joining Premier Alden McLaughlin, Mr Bodden and others in the ceremonial turning of the sod, Pacquiao showed great humility as he signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans, including many Filipinos who turned out for the ceremony.


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