A new boxing facility, named in honour of Olympic medal-winner Clarence Hill, is to open in St George’s.
The gym will be located at “The Catterick Building” on Military Road, Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Social Development and Sport, said yesterday.It is hoped the gym will be open this month or early next year.
Hill, the only Bermudian to win an Olympic medal — a bronze at the Montreal Games in 1976 — has long called for the Government to help to fund a state-of-the-art gym.
He admits to feeling let down by previous administrations, who merely paid lip service to his longtime ambition, but says he is confident DeSilva will deliver on his promise.
“I’ve been waiting so long for this, it’s like, is it really going to happen?” said Hill, who plans to train fighters himself at the gym.
“I think [Government] are very serious about it, especially as far as Zane DeSilva is concerned. He seems to be very genuine.
“I appreciate the fact my name is going to be on the gym. It’s a step forward towards the recognition that I deserve.”
Hill reiterated his desire to open a gym in 2012 — when the PLP announced in the Throne Speech that it intended to erect a bronze statue in his honour — saying the money would be better invested in a boxing facility.
The former heavyweight was also in talks with the previous One Bermuda Alliance government last year about opening a gym at the St George’s Community Centre.
Hill, 66, hopes the gym will attract those youngsters in the East End keen to learn the “sweet science”, as well as some of the island’s top boxers.
“It will be a great pillar for the young men in St George’s,” said Hill, who had 23 bouts as a professional.
“I want it to be the best gym in Bermuda because you’re going to have the best trainer in Bermuda [Clarence Hill] in that gym.
“I know I can get hold of Troy Darrell [the former Bermudian middleweight] to come down and help, and I know Nikki Bascome and Andre Lambe will come down. Anyone interested in boxing can come down because I can teach them something.”
It is not known how much the project will cost, with DeSilva admitting that the old building will require some refurbishments.
“Things will need to be assessed as they start pulling the building apart and you never know what you may run into,” DeSilva told a press conference.
“I’m still hopeful we can get it open before anticipated. I think the people we have on board to help Clarence will push this through fairly quickly.”
DeSilva said his department and the Ministry of Public Works had formally agreed for the property to be transformed into a boxing gym. He added that a “charitable sub-licence” will be granted to the Bermuda Boxing Association for a nominal fee.
“In order to redress the lack of formal recognition by Government of Clarence Hill’s achievement as the first, and only to date, Olympic medal-winner, this government has decided to make available a facility in St George’s, which will become a boxing centre named in honour of Clarence Hill,” DeSilva added.
“It is envisioned that Clarence will be a positive inspiration to youth interested in the sport of boxing, and hence it is fitting that he be assisted in the initiative to establish a boxing programme at the East End.”