A Cuban Sports Hero Retires

Osmel Almaguer

Angel Valodia Matos in his moment of rage.

HAVANA TIMES — A Cuban taekwondo giant said farewell to the sport some weeks ago. I am referring to Angel Valodia Matos, Cuba’s first Olympic champion in the discipline.

He looked happy before the cameras, expressing his gratitude for the tribute paid him by the people and authorities of Holguin, promising he would never leave the city.

As they were airing the news, I turned around and gave my father the broad strokes of Valodia’s career, about which he had expressed an interest.

“He was suspended for hitting a referee during an Olympic match,” I told him, feeling my brief version of events did not do this man (whom we could well consider a hero) any justice.

I added: “It’s true that shouldn’t happen, that it’s an act of violence against a helpless person. But, if you think about it carefully, that bastard of a referee wasn’t so helpless after all. He was protected by a corrupt sports system.”

I continued: “The last thing that referee could have imagined was Valodia’s reaction. Usually, injustices in the sports world go unpunished. There’s a lot of money under the rug because of interests that are often political.”

“Valodia, however, wasn’t intimidated, not by the people nor by the fact he was in a country that was strange to him nor by the risk of throwing his sports career out the window. The anger went to his head and he struck the corrupt official with his leg.”

“With this kick, Valodia was defending his right to winning fairly, his years of training, his respect towards the sport and sportspeople and even his honor as a Cuban. Perhaps those unscrupulous people who profit at the expense of the dreams of sportspeople will now think twice about going through with their misdeeds. I have faith that this is so – otherwise, Valodia’s sacrifice will have been in vain.”


Lamento grandemente haber hecho esto…

2 thoughts on “A Cuban Sports Hero Retires

  • “A Cuban Sports Hero Retires”

    LOL, criminals are Cubans heroes.

  • I can hardly believe what Osmel has written. Martial arts, in general, and taekwondo, in particular, are based on self-control. What Angel exhibited in the match that day is the polar opposite of every thing that taekwondo and the Olympics stands for. On top of all that it was cowardly beyond measure. To kick someone in the head is bad enough and should be done only within the confines of a controlled sport or in defense of your life or the life of a loved one. But to do so against an older and unprepared person without warning is beneath contempt. I remember this match and the fervor that followed. There were scores of other competitors who wanted a piece of Angel without pads and no rules. It doesn’t matter if he was being unfairly judged. There are appropriate channels to address these grievances. This man is no hero nor should he be.

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