‘So much potential,’ says new boxing coach

Stuart O'Connor does glove work with emerging talent Aaron Miller.

On the job for less than a week as the new head coach for the Cayman Islands Boxing Association and Stewart O’Connor’s assessment is that there is an abundance of potential for the programme.

O’Connor moves here from England, where he has coached at various levels including as head coach of the Royal Navy Boxing Team and has prepared several of his country’s fighters for international competition, as well as served as Antigua and Barbuda’s head coach.

The coaching veteran said it was a perfect fit for him to work with the CIBA considering its burgeoning after-school programme and other initiatives when compared to the work he’s done with his own amateur club in Southampton.

Stuart O’Connor

“It mirrors a lot of what we have. We do a lot of charity work within the club from grassroots all up to the national level,” O’Connor said in an interview on 10 July with CaymanSportsBuzz.com at the Dalmain Ebanks Boxing Gym. “What attracted me was not necessarily being able to work with the national team and being able to help run and design a program but also the chance to help and develop people around us.”

CIBA President Leyla Jackson welcomed O’Connor on board. “We’re really lucky to get Stewart and his expertise here. I think that the great thing from the Boxing Association’s perspective is that our goals are aligned,” she said.

“Part of what we have been trying to achieve for the past 12 months has been to build the educational part of the program, make better citizens of our boxers and that just fits perfectly together.

Having had the opportunity to meet some of the islands’ top prospects in his first few days on the job, O’Connor felt comfortable making this initial assessment: “The first impression for me is that there is so much potential here. I’ve been having a look and taking things in, but I feel there is so much potential that we can give back not only to the boxing but to the island itself.”

He added: “I’ve had a chance to talk to some of the boxers, get a good idea of what I can do to try and help them because when it comes to the boxing side of things, we have to try and help them reach their full potential, whether its Commonwealth Games, World Championships or Olympics. For me, it’s just to try and help them reach that potential whatever that may be.”

O’Connor fills the void left by another Brit, Ryan Barrett. The former world champion wrapped up his time as national coach after accompanying Dariel Ebanks and Brandy Barnes to the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.

Ryan Barrett

Barrett described his two years at the helm as “an incredible journey” and thanked the association for the opportunity to work with some of Cayman’s top boxers. He said he was proud of the work he had accomplished in leading various fighters, including Ebanks and Alexander Smith to Caribbean titles.

“When I came to the Cayman Islands, there was no team. It was just Tafari and Hopkin [Ebanks]. I leave behind around a dozen boxers that are all in a position to box competitively in the Caribbean,” he told CaymanSportsBuzz.com prior to leaving Australia.

“The potential is so much there. There are so many good fighters,” he said, adding that there are several prospects on island who have what it takes to fight on the world stage. However, that’s now someone else’s task to lead them to international glory.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.