Deciding to become a professional boxer is always difficult and if you were born in Cuba, where professional boxing has been prohibited for many years, it often means leaving your family to face the isolation of the gym alone.
For that reason, for a West Indian pugilist to be crowned world champion means much, much more when his boxing is not driven by commercial concerns and television cameras are nowhere to be seen. However, Cuban gladiators have always found a home in the WBA, the oldest governing body in boxing, which has given them opportunities fight in the square circle, whether the media is in attendance or not.
Many Cuban-born champions have held the WBA title over the years. Erislandy Lara, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Luis Ortiz, and Yunier Dorticós currently prove their mettle on a regular basis, but they follow in the footsteps of such legendary fighters as Kid Gavilan, Kid Chocolate, Jose Napoles, Luis Rodriguez Florentino Fernandez, Benny (Kid) Paret, Kid Tunero, Sugar Ramos, and Joel Casamayor.
Supporting boxing in Cuba was an integral part of the legacy of the late Gilberto Mendoza, WBA president emeritus, who always encouraged boxing in countries where the sport was undeveloped and/or unappreciated. It was one aspect of Don Gilberto’s mission to help expand boxing and help build champions in sectors where opportunities are scarce.
This article was penned by the author who is not related to the WBA and the statements, expressions or opinions referenced herein are that of the author alone and not the WBA.