Blacktip Island’s Holiday celebrations continue today with the traditional post-Christmas Kickboxing Day festivities, organized by the Caribbean island’s Seaman’s Society.
“The festival started in the 1600s,” Blacktip Island historian Smithson Altschul said. “Blacktip Island’s original settlers had to develop a unique fighting style to combat the giant iguanas overrunning the island. Passing sailors exported the foot-intensive techniques to other lands, where it came to be called ‘kick-boxing.’
“The original Kickboxing Day was a celebration of the early settlers’ salvation from the vicious iguanas,” Altschul said. “Now it’s as much a part of the holidays as Christmas lights, stale cobbler and bad college football.”
This year’s festivities begin at 9 a.m. and continue into the night.
“We start with the 5K underwater pub crawl,” said Blacktip Island Seaman’s Society president Jay Valve. “A combination of oxygen-rich nitrox scuba cylinders and mimosas at each bar help shake off any lingering holiday hangovers.
“After that, the Leftover-Off runs through mid afternoon,” Valve said. “It’s stunning the variety of delicacies island folks can fashion from holiday leftovers. Last year’s winners included turkey pancakes with cranberry syrup, green bean casserole pizza and deep-fried haggis nuggets.”
“No K-Day’s complete without the Destruction of the Christmas Playlists,” Eagle Ray Cove divemaster Gage Hoase said. “Nothing makes the season bright quite like taking a sledge hammer to Lady Gaga’s Christmas Tree.”
The focal point, as ever, will be the kickboxing Friday evening at Diddley’s Landing.
All fighting styles are welcome, Valve said, so long as they incorporate a significant number of foot strikes.
Kickboxers are encouraged to compete in appropriate seasonal attire.
“Last year I fought off Santa, Jesus and Father Time,” said reigning champion Rocky Shores. “Santa was a classic taekwondo counterpuncher. Father Time had some serious Shaolin training.”
“This event’s a family affair that binds the community together during the holidays,” Valve said. “There’ll be smaller rings where kids can strap on gloves and footpads and just have at it. That helps the kids sleep, too.”
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year on Blacktip Island,” said long-time resident Ginger Bass. “Nothing gets you psyched for the new year quite like seeing your neighbor laid out with a roundhouse kick to the head. I still have a couple of Dermott Bottoms’ molars from last year’s bouts.”