The websites say that Tim Duncan’s wingspan is seven feet three inches, but on Wednesday it appeared much longer, stretching all the way to the territory to provide some much-needed equipment for the V.I. Boxing Federation.
Duncan is the primary backer behind the Caribbean Education Initiative, whose representative, Rashidi Clenance, said the organization just wants to give back, and found a willing recipient in the boxers, who received 20 sets of gloves and three pieces of head gear, along with a boxing pad and mitts.
"We saw what they were doing in the gym here with Julian Jackson, and we just wanted to support, we just wanted to help," Clenance said after handing out the equipment to the boxers. While the organization’s efforts are now gaining strength in the community, Clenance said it has long been helping to support local basketball through Hood Hoops, which sponsors tournaments throughout the territory.
Clenance said the organization now wants to expand and help support all sports, along with educational initiatives. Through Hood Hoops, the organization plans to work with the University of the Virgin Islands next season to provide tutoring for the students and has also financed a seven-year reading program. Other beneficiaries include the St. Croix Educational Complex Steel Orchestra, the V.I. Swimming Federation and V.I. Weightlifting Federation.
Clenance said that while the organization gets a small monthly allotment for its donations, he hopes the community will see what it has been doing and "get behind us with support."
The Boxing Federation’s gym is located in Paul M. Pearson Gardens, and Clenance said that while in the area for Hood Hoops games, he noticed the condition of the building and the boxers’ equipment.
"I see how many people are in this small facility, and I see how they try to maximize it, and at least we can help give the tools to help these kids succeed," he said about the organization’s latest donation.
Renowned three-time world boxing champion Julian Jackson runs the federation’s program on St. Thomas and said much of the equipment was long overdue for an upgrade.
"We have a few head gears that are run-down, and with the new ones that we have now, it will help the guys from getting injured," Jackson said. "And not only the head gear but the gloves as well; some of them are busted, with the cotton coming out — they have a little more knuckle than anything else. Some of them are going in the garbage for sure, now."
Jackson said donations such as the one made Wednesday help boost the local program by making its students feel like they have the support of the community.
"Especially with the kids knowing that there are people that are concerned, that there are people in the community that really want to do something positive, it makes the kids feel really wanted and that they have a purpose and that helps our program tremendously," he said. "And we really need the equipment, and I think it’s going to go a long way, it’s going to do a lot.