CIBA bans Whittaker after series of troubling incidents

| 29/04/2021
Charles Whittaker breaking through the door of the gym

(CNS): Retired professional boxer Charles “Killa” Whittaker, who was arrested Tuesday, had been warned about his behaviour at the local boxing gym on several occasions over the last two years, officials from the Cayman Islands Boxing Association said in a press release about the incident. The one-time prize fighter broke through the door of the D. Dalmain Ebanks Boxing Gymnasium after he was banned from the facility and engaged in an altercation with the manager. CIBA admitted that their member of staff had responded in a “verbally aggressive and derogatory manner” to Whittaker’s outburst but said that this was not an isolated incident.

In the violent incident on Tuesday, which was documented on a mobile phone and posted on social media, Whittaker smashed out a door and forced his way into the government-owned facility before the police arrived and arrested him. Providing context, the CIBA said the issues with Whittaker, who in his “capacity as an esteemed sports person” has free membership to the gym, began in July 2019.

“Mr Whittaker has been warned about his behaviour in the boxing gym on several occasions in the past few years,” the association said in a long explanatory statement.

In this first incident, Whittaker “initiated an aggressive verbal altercation with a visiting official who was conducting a training course for Caymanian officials”. Then almost a year later in June 2020, when government premises, which included the gym, were closed for lockdown, Whittaker threatened to break the door down as he demanded access to the facility. There was a third incident last month, where he used “foul language, racial slurs and inappropriate behaviour in the gymnasium during after-school hours”. Following this he made inaccurate negative comments and racial slurs on social media about the association.

“CIBA respects Mr Whittaker’s right to express his opinions and has a procedure in place whereby any concerns can be addressed via legitimate channels,” the association stated. “On Monday 26 April 2021,  Mr Whittaker engaged in similar derogatory behaviour within earshot of young boxers. Therefore staff members approached Mr Whittaker and requested that he behave in a respectful manner when using the facilities and if he had a complaint then he could utilise the appropriate channels. Mr Whittaker responded in an extremely aggressive and threatening manner against a female member of staff using highly inappropriate language and behaviour in front of young boxers.”

CIBA reported this incident immediately to the Department and Ministry of Sports and they all agreed that Whittaker would be excluded from use of the premises and held accountable for his actions. A report was also filed with the RCIPS Tuesday lunchtime. But later that afternoon, at 3:50pm, during the after-school training time, Whittaker returned to the gym.

“In an abundance of caution the children in our care were moved to train outside. Mr Whittaker began behaving inappropriately. As was documented he verbally abused staff members, damaged government property and acted in a menacing fashion. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service arrived at the scene within 25 minutes. In the interval Mr Whittaker managed to gain access to the premises and he pushed a 19-year-old female member of staff.”

Several videos of the incident, one of which is around 20 minutes long documenting it from start to finish, have surfaced on social media. CIBA noted that some of this footage shows that at the beginning of the altercation “a member of CIBA staff also responding to the altercation in a verbally aggressive and derogatory manner”. CNS understands this was the gym manager, who has since apologised for losing her temper and responding the way she did, and CIBA said it has taken the appropriate steps with regard to her conduct.

But the association was clear that Whittaker’s actions were unacceptable. “The welfare of any young person within our programmes or on the premises, is paramount. CIBA’s values include treating everyone with respect, instilling discipline and accountability for behaviour. CIBA endeavours at all times to provide a safe and positive environment for all young people. CIBA has a disciplinary policy in place and any person who violates said policy will be treated accordingly,” the release stated.

“In his capacity as an esteemed sports person for the Island, Charles Whittaker, in addition to any former boxer who has competed at a high level, is permitted free access to the premises as a mark of respect for their achievements. However, such persons are expected to abide by the same rules of respect and behaviour as anybody else. Being a person of status does not exempt any person from the expected standards of behaviour. In fact, it demands a higher level of accountability because one should act as a role model for future generations of Caymanians and impressionable young people utilising the facilities.”

CIBA said it would not tolerate the behaviour as reported from any national athlete, former national athlete, staff member of gym member. The sports association said it can and has used its disciplinary policy “to hold persons accountable for their actions and set an example for the young people of this country to follow”.

Arrangements have been made for any children who witnessed this unfortunate incident, the release noted.

See CIBA’s full statement here.

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