Hill frustrated about ‘failed promises’

  • The Clarence Hill Boxing Facility press conference from last December, From left: Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, Renee Ming, Zane DeSilva, Clarence Hill, Charryse Bean and Jekon Edness

Clarence Hill has vented his frustration that a new boxing gym to be named in his honour in St George’s is still not open.

Hill, who won a bronze medal at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Bermuda’s first and only Olympic medal, has long advocated for such a facility, which started to take shape last year under the former One Bermuda Alliance government.

Zane DeSilva, the former Minister of Social Development and Sport, announced last December that the ruling Progressive Labour Party had committed to the project.

He told a press conference that the gym would be located at “The Catterick Building” on Military Road and said he hoped it would be open the same month or by early this year. However, nearly six months later and the gym has yet to open, with Hill becoming increasingly annoyed about the delay.

“I am frustrated because promises have been made to me but not being kept,” Hill said. “Mr Weeks [Michael Weeks] is the new sports minister, and I have respect for all the ministers in Government, but nothing is happening and that’s what I am so frustrated about.

“The other day I took someone down to the gym because they want to do some painting and stuff and now they are telling me I need a lease. It’s a government building so why is it taking so long for me to get a lease and why do I need a lease if the building is government owned?

“Why is it taking them so long and every time I go to the minister I get promises. Why is it taking this government so long to open up a boxing gym in Bermuda for the youth that need something positive in their lives? We see the road that some youths are taking, so let’s try and give them something positive and pull them back to where they need to be.”

The Ministry of Social Development and Sport and the Ministry of Public Works have formally agreed for the property in St George’s to be transformed into a boxing gym and are working together on the project.

Weeks, the Minister of Social Development and Sport, and David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, could not be reached for comment.

Ben Smith, the Shadow Minister for Social Development and Sport, said he was unable to comment on the specifics of why the project has been delayed.

“Obviously I would need to know a little bit more detail on why it’s being delayed,” Smith said. “But every opportunity that we can do, and any help that we can give to make that programme move forward as quickly possible, we should be doing.

“I think having a boxing facility and increasing the opportunity for our young males, particularly, to get involved in that sport, with the discipline that comes with it and as an avenue to get rid of some of their aggression, is perfect.

“We have produced at a world level in boxing, so it should be a sport where we put some focus on. Having that facility is a great opportunity, so we should be all pushing to see if we can get that finished.”