Cayman’s only competitive national amateur boxer is looking to see where she stands on the international stage.
22-year old Brandy Barnes is set to depart 22 October for a intense three-week training in England ahead of the 2018 AIBA Women’s World Championships in New Delhi, India held 15-24 November.
For the Caribbean’s Light Flyweight champion, the tour represents a step towards qualifying for the 2019 Pan Am Games, with an eye on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. For new Cayman Islands Boxing Association (CIBA) National Coach Stuart O’Connor, it’s a chance to see what he has in his young pugilist.
“I want her to be able to develop, start to find who she is. Have the belief she’s actually at this stage and this level, because the potential now for Brandy to actually compete in the Olympics is so much greater.”
Barnes knows she will need to take both her conditioning and boxing to another level during camp, and again in New Delhi.
“I’ll be happy if I can showcase what I’ve been learning for the past few months in the ring. I’m expecting for him to push me hard. I’m expecting quality sparring, and I’m looking forward to the experience in India and growing as a boxer.”
“The first part of things we will go to Southampton to Poseidon Boxing Club which is my home club. We’ve got all the weights and facilities that she needs. We are going to Cambridge to box against the Great Britain number one, Demie-Jade Resztan, we’ll do some good sparring with her and her coach. We’ll go to Wales to work with the Welsh National Team. As final preparations, we’ve been invited to the Great Britain National Center in Sheffield. She’ll be using an altitude tent in one of the rings where we’ll make sure she’s physically enhanced.”
Training abroad for Cayman’s boxers isn’t new. The local talent pool is shallow. However, O’Connor credits Barnes’ attitude as her biggest asset thus far.
“The chances for sparring are limited over here, so to stay motivated and to be able to keep coming into the gym, keep learning different things, that personal motivation can be a massive advantage in the ring.”
If Barnes is to see international success, O’Connor says the time is now.
“They’ve (International Olympic Committee) increased weight classes from three to five. There’s not only twelve competitors now, they are upping the limit as well. Therefore, for us to qualify from the Americas region, she has a great chance. As the Caribbean champion we hope for a good draw. If she gets a good draw she can progress, and if she progresses, she has a great chance of going to the Olympics.”
After working one-on-one with O’Connor since his arrival in July, Barnes is confident he’s the man to lead her to the promise land.
“Stuart has had a lot of success with his career, so it makes me look forward to what can happen.”
Barnes last fight was at June’s ‘Battle of the Islands’ where she defeated Saint Maarten’s Asher Ferdinan via unanimous decision. Prior to that, she fought at May’s XXI Gold Coast Commonwealth Games where she lost her opening match to 39-year old Anusha Dilrukshi Koddithuwakku of Sri Lanka via referee stoppage in the first round.