The glory days: Clarence Hill was formidable in the ring. *File photo
The glory days: Clarence Hill was formidable in the ring. *File photo
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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23: Clarence Hill has spoken to Premier Craig Cannonier about a boxing gym as a way to provide a focal point in the community for young people.

It’s a project the former Olympic bronze medallst has championed for years and he is not giving up on his dream.

“I would like to have a gym”, he told us. “I have broadcast that many, many times.

“ From the UBP to the PLP to now, I’ve told them we need a boxing gym.

“Not only for myself, because I’m 61-years-old, but for the youth that are coming on.

“I’ve had many of them stop me and tell me they want to box and they want me to train them.”

Mr Hill trained at the Pembroke Youth Centre back in the day and it wasn’t the world’s greatest gym by any stretch of the imagination, but it did provide a place for people to go and offer a place of community.

“It was a place for us to go and have boxing and a place to train. We had a coach and someone to shout at us to tell us to do what we’re supposed to be doing.

“That’s what is needed.  I thought when they built the National Stadium they would have room up there for it.

“Boxing is the only sport in Bermuda to win an Olympic medal, but all the money people tend to spend on sport is on football and cricket, which has done nothing.”

He added that when young people come to him, he mentions the Police Gym “but a lot of them don’t want to go there and I can’t blame them”.

Mr Hill said some sort of central location would be great.

“God has instilled in my spirit to still have a boxing gym. I know what I can do if I have a gym. I know what the possibilities are.”

He said the PLP mentioned building a Clarence Hill a statue “and that’s all well and good,” Mr Hill told us, “but the boxing gym is more needed for the community and the youth.

“Don’t rule out the statue but you can put the statue outside the gym.”

Mr Hill said he had spoken to Premier Cannonier prior to the December 17 General Election, but has not yet had the opportunity to speak to the Premier since.

“If we have a gym we can get some of these youths off the street. There are experiences that I have had, I can share with them.

“You never know, we could have another Olympic medal winner here.”

Connie had heard the stories about Clarence Hill, but being a good, God-fearing woman, she decided to look past his mistakes — just like her Saviour has wiped clean her blemishes.

Clarence said Connie — his wife of seven years — has been a very positive influence on his life and he’s happy she decided to take a chance on him.

He said: “I thank God very much for her. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her. I buck against a lot of the things she says, but I thank God for her because if it wasn’t for her, I’d be sitting up in Westgate.

“She’s been a good influence and a good inspiration.”

The pair met at First Church of God North Shore. Mrs Hill said: “His cousin, is one of my best friends, formally introduced us. We were in a passion play together in church.

He asked her out

“We got to talking then and a few months later, his cousin, who works for the substance abuse centre Turning Point, had me help her out for a function and he came to it at Clearwater. We started talking again. He asked me to go out with him and I said ‘Okay.’”

That didn’t come without a bit of thought though.

She said: “When you hear the name Clarence Hill, you’ve seen and heard so much about him.

“So when he asked me to go out with him, I thought about it. I can’t judge him for what he’s done in his past because I’ve done things in my past — not drugs — but things I’m not proud of, so who am I to judge what he’s done?

“I know God has forgiven him like He’s forgiven me so I said ‘Sure. I’ll go out with you’ — and we went to the movies.”

Their first date was the Jodie Foster suspense thriller Flight Plan which they saw together at the Little Theatre... well, Connie, in fact, saw more of the movie than Clarence.

He laughed: “I went to sleep.” Connie added: “That should have been my first clue!”

From there, things got cozier and as of November they have been married seven years.

Proposal

Clarence said he asked, straight up: “Would you marry me?”

Mrs Hill said: “It wasn’t anything fancy but it’s something we had talked about and prayed about and decided that’s what we wanted to do. We’re very happy about it.”

He added: “I thank God for my wife, who is sticking by me.

I buck against what she tells me at times. I’m a man and that’s what we do.

I know what she says is real and is true. Being a man, macho, we buck against it.”