Cayman Islands Boxing Association National Coach Stuart O’Connor is hoping six months of hard work will pay off for defending Caribbean Light Flyweight champion Brandy Barnes at the Caribbean Amateur Boxing Championships 6th – 9th December at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall in Guyana.
Barnes will need to do it, however, against bigger competition.
“She’s competing at Flyweight, as oppose to Light Flyweight,” said O’Connor. “She can potentially qualify for the Pan Am Games. It would be the first time the Caribbean Championships acts as a qualifier for Pan Ams. We are still waiting to hear confirmation on that.”
O’Connor leaving role as National Coach
Cayman Islands Boxing Association President Leyla Jackson told Cayman 27 the Caribbean Championships would be O’Connor’s last official tournament as the programme’s National Team Head Coach.
“He’s made a lot of changes while he’s been here,” said Jackson. “He’s needed back in the UK, but he has great connections with Boxing England and Great Britain Boxing. We are hoping to utilize him for a training camp for Brandy starting in the New Year.”
O’Connor says he’s pleased to stay involved with both CIBA initiatives, and Barnes’ development en route to qualifiers for both the Pan Am Games and 2020 Olympics.
“I’m excited to stay apart of the programme,” said O’Connor. “Moving forward, I’m excited to be helping international boxers Brandy for camps, and using my links within the home countries and a few other countries in Europe. I am also excited to be helping coaching development, increase their knowledge base and give them more experience.”
Grassroots Programme flourishes
In light of a focus on grassroots development, CIBA has successfully recruited over 150 kids from both John Gray High School & Hope Academy to the Dalmain Ebanks Gym for regular strength, conditioning and technical boxing sessions.
Lead by CIBA Vice President Tristan Wesenhagen, along with coaching prospects Theodore Kelly Jr. and Sabien Barnes on a volunteer basis, the programme hopes to continue in 2019 with a new Technical Director.
“We’ve made an offer to someone in the Caribbean region who has an excellent in their home country in developing these kinds of programmes. Hopefully, he can come and help us get our programme going again,” said Jackson.
Jackson added both Kelly and Barnes, along with England resident Blayze Wood, are on the fast track to gaining certification as well.
“Those are the next generation of coaches, and we are hoping to certify them to AIBA Level One.”