The story of international boxing in Cuba is inseparable from the story of Casto and Communism. A Caribbean island nation that rivaled Puerto Rico for its devotion to the sport and the quality of its fighters, the Cuban Revolution jerked the country out of the professional boxing picture. However, Cuba became an awesome presence in the world amateur circuit, with its team’s boxers always in medal contention at the Olympics and the World Amateur Championships.
Since the fall of the Soviet bloc, cracks have appeared in the Cuban monolith. While the country officially abstains from professional sports, its amateur stars have been defecting in a steady trickle since the 1990s. With that in mind, where does Cuba stand now as a world boxing country?
Today’s Pro Fighters
Place Guillermo Rigondeaux at the top of a list boasting the following star-power names: World Cruiserweight Champion Yoan Pablo Hernandez; #1 junior middleweight contender Erislandy Lara; #4 lightweight Richard Abril and #6 lightweight Yuriorkis Gamboa; and #4 super featherweight Rances Barthelemy. Then add to that the next tier of Cuban fighters of merit, especially heavyweight fringe contenders like Odlanier Solis and Juan Carlos Gomez.
Fans and Venues
Cuba loves boxing, but as previously mentioned, it is strictly an amateur sport in its native land. So, fully half of the world boxing picture is missing from the country.
Cuba’s national boxing team is a source of envy in amateur boxing circles around the world. Over the last 40 years, Cuba has won more medals at the World Amateur Championships than any other country. It always puts a strong team into the Olympics, and always brings home boxing medals.
In a word, there is none.
Cuban Boxing History
It’s golden. Before Communism, Cuba was the country that gave us Kid Chocolate, Kid Gavilan, and Benny Paret. After Communism, it produced two of the most dominant amateur heavyweights the world has ever known in Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon. Both men are also the three-time Olympic gold medalists, and Cuba is the only country that can boast having two such athletes. If anything, Cuba’s withdrawal from professional boxing only gives the country a more interesting story!
Pound for Pound Pros
Pointing straight to the quality of Cuba’s boxing talent is #3 P4P fighter Guillermo Rigondeaux. He is the only Cuban in the P4P Top 20, but as we have seen, a host of good Cuban boxers occupy slots in the #25 to #50 region.
Bonus Points: 3
Overall Boxing World Cup Score for Cuba: 20 points