Cuban Gov. Tries to Punish Cuban Boxing Champion

The government believes the Cuban flag belongs to the Communist Party

Robeisy Ramirez. Photo: Mikey Williams / Top Rank.

HAVANA TIMES – Two-time Olympic champion Robeisy Ramirez from Cuba will defend his World Boxing Organization featherweight title in Japan, on July 25th 2023. His opponent will be Japan’s Satoshi Shimizu. The fight is set for 12 rounds.

In the past few hours, the boxer from Cienfuegos and his team announced that personnel from the Cuban Embassy in Tokyo had contacted the TV channel that will broadcast the fight to ban them from playing the Cuban national anthem during the event. According to the champion’s managers, the TV channel informed them that Robeisy could enter the ring with the US national anthem or another song. 

The boxer announced that he wouldn’t walk into the ring with the US anthem under any circumstance because he is Cuban and his homeland and national anthem are Cuba. Nevertheless, he admitted that the Government’s attempt to deny him using the Cuban anthem in this fight was a lack of respect; he said he didn’t understand how Japan could cave in to such a demand.

Robeisy announced in a later statement that he also won’t be able to carry the flag or wear shorts with the Cuban national flag during the fight.

The issues involved

Robeisy Ramirez’s experience today highlights two key issues. The first is linked to the Cuban regime’s disproportionate influence anywhere in the world – if you bear in mind the country’s size and real economic capacity. A capacity that can not only be seen in the impact they have in other States’ policy, but also at events and on private actors, like the people organizing the defense of the world boxing title. 

In 2021, NGO Archivo Cuba published a report “Cuba’s excessive influence”, which analyzes the Cuban State’s excessive international presence. The document points out that Cuba keeps 126 embassies, 20 consulates and 43 diplomats working in the U.N., despite its economic situation.

It also underlines the fact that Cuba has 30 more embassies than developed countries with a similar sized population (Sweden, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Greece). Furthermore, the Cuban regime’s international presence is greater than countries such as Canada (which has 106 embassies and 32 diplomates in the UN, despite having over 37 million inhabitants and being one of the top ten leading economies in the world).

Cuba’s excessive presence in the international arena allows the State to pull strings, find spaces and contacts, demand favors and threaten using all kinds of actions to manage, for example, to stop a world-class boxer trained in the Cuban boxing academy from being able to use what Cuban bureaucrats understand as their symbols and not the Cuban people’s. 

Second of all, the effort and paperwork needed to achieve a political and economically weak action for the Cuban system (such as stopping Robeisy from using the Cuban flag in a distant land to show his pride of being a child of Cuba), also proves that the prison sentences given to Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and Aniette Gonzalez are purely vindictive. These vindictive interests affect Cubans both on and off the island, who are trying to reclaim their anti-Castrista and patriotic character with their talent.

The Cuban regime’s behavior with Robeisy doesn’t seek profits or to defend Cuban honor but is just to send a sign of power to its adversaries. The same sign they sent in early 2020 when Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara performed “Drapeau“, where he used the national flag to cover his body during his everyday activities. Back then, Otero was imprisoned for 13 days, and a date was tentatively set for his trial; but he was later released thanks to a campaign led by civil society actors in Cuba and abroad.

Two years after his release, the Cuban authorities charged Luis Manuel Otero again and punished him for the same crime (indecent assault of patriotic symbols). He has been in prison since July 2021. 

It is also connected to the messaged sent by Diaz-Canel’s Administration when, after a campaign (“La bandera es de todos” The flag belongs to everyone) led by Cuban activist Hector Luis Valdes Cocho to demand Otero’s release, activist Aniette Gonzalez who lives in Camaguey, was sent to prison. Gonzalez posted photos of herself wearing the Cuban flag. She has been in prison ever since.

National symbols being refused as symbols to express political stances that diverge from the Communist Party is a policy that the Cuban Government has been pushing to further divide the country. Their actions don’t answer to a nationalist or protectionist sentiment, but to the logic – which the State and its propaganda have repeated to death – that the Cuban authorities only consider “Cubans” (decent or born) those who are from the island, support their government or don’t openly oppose it. 

A logic that has been cultivated over the years from the Government-driven conjunction  of the concepts “Revolution” and “Homeland”.


Editor’s note: The fight was held earlier today, July 25th in Japan.  The following is the report from

Robeisy Ramirez Stops Satoshi Shimizu In 5th Round, Retains WBO Title

By Jake Donavan (Boxing Scene)

Robeisy Ramirez enjoyed a quick turnaround to defend his title and didn’t waste any time once he entered the ring.

The two-time Olympic Gold medalist retained his WBO featherweight title after a one-sided, fifth-round stoppage of Yokohama’s Satoshi Shimizu. Ramirez floored the first-time title challenger before an ensuing flurry forced the stoppage at 1:08 of round five in their ESPN+ aired co-feature Tuesday from Ariake Arena in Tokyo. 

The all-southpaw battle saw Ramirez immediately close the gap versus the 5’11” Shimizu. Uppercuts managed to break through the tight guard of the first-time title challenger, who later drew cheers after landing a straight left. Ramirez targeted the body early with his right hook before bringing the attack upstairs.

Momentum remained with the visiting titlist through round two. Ramirez stood at close range and fired off right hooks downstairs and straight left hands up top. Shimizu was forced to play defense after taking a left on the chin, which Ramirez later followed with left uppercuts. 

Shimizu enjoyed early success in round three with a straight left from long range. Ramirez quickly adjusted and went on the attack. The uppercut continued to split Shimizu’s guard, to which Ramirez followed with left hands before returning with the shot that produced his greatest success.

It would also produce the end of the fight.

A series of left uppercuts wobbled and eventually floored Shimizu early in round five. The battered challenger beat the count but was leaking blood from the nose and barely able to defend himself. Ramirez immediately followed up with a two-fisted attack before referee Ramon Pena was forced to rescue Shimizu (11-2, 10KOs) from absorbing any more punishment. 

Final Compubox stats illustrated the one-sided destruction. Ramirez landed 100-of-227 total punches (44.1%), including a staggering 58.9% connect rate on 86-of-146 power punches. Shimizu was just 22-of-187 (11.8%) in total punches, and 14-of-119 (11.8%) with his power shots.

Ramirez stormed to 13-1 (8KOs) with the win, which came less than four months after he claimed the WBO featherweight title. Ramirez outpointed former WBO 122-pound titlist Isaac Dogboe via twelve-round, unanimous decision on April 1 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

It also came as he continues to combat discrimination from his homeland. Ramirez still proudly flies the Cuban colors to honor his roots, despite the continued and recent efforts by his nation’s dictatorship. It was revealed by the boxer that Cuban officials called the embassy prior to Monday’s weigh-in to insist that neither its flag or anthem was on display on fight night. 

Ramirez—who defected to the U.S. prior to his pro career—continues to fight that good fight outside the ropes. In the ring, he extended his thirteen-fight win streak following a stunning split decision defeat in his August 2019 pro debut. Ramirez dropped a split decision to Adan Gonzales, whom he defeated via six-round shutout in their rematch just eleven months later.

Today, the South Florida-based southpaw serves as one of the best featherweights in the world. 

On the undercard, Kanamu Sakama (8-0, 7KOs) remained perfect after an eighth-round stoppage of Tokyo’s Ryu Horikawa (3-2-2, 1KO) in their junior flyweight bout. Headlining the show, Stephen Fulton (21-0, 8KOs) puts his WBC and WBO junior featherweight titles at stake versus former three-division champ and pound-for-pound entrant Naoya Inoue (24-0, 21KOs). 

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times

8 thoughts on “Cuban Gov. Tries to Punish Cuban Boxing Champion

  • As I hope a virulent opponent of the Castro regime, I totally support Stephens comments about Casa Particulars and their owners. They are one of the few chinks of individual enterprise within Cuba. Wayne ought to consider them.

  • ‘Tom’ has a somewhat warped impression of Russia. When US Athletes go to Russia, they are jailed and used as political bargaining chips. Remember a female basketball player named Griner?

  • Wayne,

    Are you referring to yourself in your statement “Tme has come to give greater thoughts about visiting Cuba ever again.” If so, good for you.

    On the other hand, if you are suggesting tourists in general boycott the island, I suggest this is not the time to abandon our Cuban friends struggling to cope economically, moreover, just struggling to survive.

    I am specifically referring to those Cuban entrepreneurs who own “casas particulars” in almost every community and neighborhood in Cuba. Their economic survival is tied directly to foreign tourists who come to Cuba and rent a room or two from these hospitable hosts. Are you familiar with these Cuban accommodations?

    To deny these hard working landlords this economic lifeline would be a travesty. These entrepreneurs do their best to accommodate and accentuate a visitors experience in Cuba. Take away their livelihood and they will join the multitude of unemployed Cubans thus adding to the current morass of stifling misery. We don’t want more human suffering.

    Many tourists who spend time in these Cuban homes make lifelong friends with the hosts and hostesses so much so that the visitors on their return to their home country send monetary remittances back to these impoverished Cubans. Furthermore, on their subsequent visits they will bring down much needed medicines and whatever else the host family is in dire need. That is certainly a good thing.

    A visitor to Cuba who lodges with a Cuban family in a casa particular creates a win-win situation. Definitely an economic win for the Cuban family who otherwise would be in extreme poverty, and a win for the visitor who makes friends and in their humanity may see an opportunity to offer substantial, tangible help.

    So in the final analysis, no one in their right mind should support the current abusive, Cuban dictatorial diehards in power today. Full stop. However, to abandon those hard working ordinary Cuban entrepreneurs trying their hardest to make a living in intolerable conditions is not the way to go because those rental home owners so desperately need our economic support.

  • Time has come to give greater thoughts about visiting Cuba ever again
    The people had so much hope when the new leader took over , there dreams only to be dashed with even further restrictions and oppressive policies
    So sad

  • Despite the backasswards priorities of the Castro dictatorship, the propaganda promulgated by the regime does little to improve the image of the Cuban government abroad. Everyone knows that Cuba sucks. Even those that support the government know it sucks, they just pretend it’s not because of the Castros policies.

  • Let’s say an american athlete defects and goes to Russia. When he competes, are they going to play the Star Spangled Banner ? Silly gusanini.

  • Cuba keeps 126 embassies, 20 consulates and 43 diplomats working in the U.N., despite its economic situation. Those are nothing more that tentacles of the Cuban dictatorship I. The world. When the Castro’s puppet Diaz Cannel went to Mexico is not a secret that the Cuban Embassy went to the poorest neighborhoods in Mexico City and paid Mexicans to attack and counter protest the Cuban exile protesters in Mexico City the case is under investigation. Is the same in everywhere where there is a large population of Cuban exile presence. Also is to influence how others government vote in UN resolutions. Image how many pounds of wheat so the Cubans have a least a decent bread everyday the Cuban regime could buy if they cut the propagandist programs. ( Embassies ) in half

  • Viva la resistencia!

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