By Flynn Bush
The last eighteen months have been a whirlwind tour for young Brandy Barnes. The 22-year-old has gone from a non-participant to the best boxer in her weight class in the entire English/French speaking Caribbean. It is a short period of time in the sport to be having such success, but Brandy does have some things in her favor. First of all, she comes from excellent boxing stock as the daughter of former commonwealth competitor Ernest Barnes. Her younger brother, Sabien, is also an amateur team boxer. The second, and definitely the most influential, fact in her favor is that Brandy possesses an incredible amount of dedication to her craft.
As with fellow boxer, Chambria Dalhouse, the lack of female boxers on the island has been a severe hindrance. CIBA President Leyla Jackson added that, “Because of the lack of on-Island competition for her, Brandy's development can only really get to the next level by spending large amounts of time, often training by herself (with her coach but without other athletes), off island.” She overcame this obstacle to have her first international success in 2017. It was then that she competed in the Caribbean Championships in St. Lucia, and won the gold medal in the 48kg weight class.
From there, Brandy was off to a camp for the Commonwealth Games. In that competition, she encountered a difficult pairing as she had to face off against a boxer with twenty years of experience. It was another bump in the road, so to speak, but Miss Barnes was not to be deterred and went straight to a Caribbean Invitational in St Maarten where she again took home the gold medal.
After another off-island camp, Brandy got the chance to compete in the Women’s World Championships in India last October. She again faced a more experienced opponent but, even in the defeat, she showed significant improvement above her Commonwealth debut. Then, as she had done before, Brandy rebounded from a stumbling block with a fantastic performance. This took place at the Caribbean Championships where she again took a gold medal for the second year running, proving beyond a doubt that she is the best female in her weight class in the region.
In February 2019 Brandy went back to training camp in the UK. There, she will remain until the Pan Am qualifiers in April. The association, her coach, and our country are rooting for her, and are expecting great results.
Leyla Jackson summed up the reason why Brandy is an inspiration to others. She says that Brandy’s drive and dedication are what set her apart. Ms. Jackson added, “She has put her career and earnings on hold, she spends long periods away from her loved ones. Yet, she does so always with a smile, a fantastic attitude and a willingness to face her challenges head-on. Brandy is a phenomenal young lady."
Every year during Honouring Women’s Month (HWM), the Cayman Islands Department of Sports is on the lookout for individuals of immense talent, inspiring accomplishments; and whom have made a positive impact on our community. Brandy meets all of those criteria. Brandy Barnes is, therefore, most deserving of being named as a 2019 HWM Award recipient.