By Pedro Pablo Morejon

HAVANA TIMES – I have the six movies about Rocky Balboa, the legendary and fictitious boxer, played by Sylvester Stallonee. In the third movie, there is a scene where doctors warn Rocky that he shouldn’t go back into the ring. Why? Irreversible brain damage, according to a CAT scan. A common injury among boxers after years of practicing that sport.

It led me to think about Cuban boxing and other sports. For years, we have been hearing that professional sports are dehumanizing, transforming athletes into nothing more than a commodity at capital’s service.

Professionalism was demonized. Amateur sports, what the authorities call “revolutionary” sport here in Cuba, was presented as the best option for any athlete who wanted to reach glory and self-fulfillment as both a human being and competitor.

I remember reading an article in the official press, years ago, about Kid Chocolate, that great world champion and one of the best boxers ever to walk this Earth, trying to present him as a victim of professional boxing.

However, the fact that he died poor, in Havana in 1988, was a crushing blow to the alleged consideration and respect for the glory of Cuban sports that “the Revolution” boasts about.

Using so much manipulation, they try to hide an obvious injustice: Human exploitation for man’s propaganda agenda, dedicating their entire lives to sport only to end up poor and sick.

I think about so many Cuban boxers, formidable fighters who have gone down in our history, many of whom suffered permanent damage, such as Angel Herrera (Olympic and world champion), Sixto Soria (world champion), and Douglas Rodriguez (world champion), just to mention a few whose lives have been lost somewhere between oblivion and poverty, after they retired. Only a few champions have been able to escape this fate.

An athlete who dedicates their life to put on a show that crowds enjoy, deserves to be compensated for his efforts, and even more so in the case of those who take part in dangerous sports such as boxing.

No athlete deserves to be called a traitor because they want a little bit of respect for their hard work and talent, deciding to leave Cuba to compete in other competitions or leagues. Nobody has the right to keep them on their knees using the false argument that they were invested in and given training, so they have to be eternally grateful. Everybody knows that in Cuba sport is a national return in terms of propaganda and financial revenue.

Yep, because times have changed and alleged “principles” have too. Nobody rants and raves about professional sports anymore. The Regime needs hard currency, so many athletes are sublet to compete in foreign leagues. There are Cuban baseball players in Japan and other countries, and they would play in the Major Leagues if the Embargo didn’t forbid it.

The same thing goes for boxing, volleyball, basketball…, which better athletes’ lives. But one thing is for sure, they are leased out and used as a commodity, the thing that the government criticized so much, and INDER (the state body that signs the contracts) gives the Socialist State it’s fine cut, giving a percentage to Athletes. In other words, pragmatism via their so-called “revolutionary” sport.


Pedro Morejón

I am a man who fights for his goals, who assumes the consequences of his actions, who does not stop at obstacles. I could say that adversity has always been an inseparable companion, I have never had anything easy, but in some sense, it has benefited my character. I value what is in disuse, such as honesty, justice, honor. For a long time, I was tied to ideas and false paradigms that suffocated me, but little by little I managed to free myself and grow by myself. Today I am the one who dictates my morale, and I defend my freedom against wind and tide. I also build that freedom by writing, because being a writer defines me.

20 thoughts on “Our so-called “Revolutionary” Sports

  • Touche Nick!

  • Mr MacD, If you’re going to pour beer over those with ‘incorrect political opinions’ then you’re going to look pretty strange dousing yourself with any Bucanero that you may find.
    I would be happier to simply drink mine. Waste not, want not.
    Sport and Arts it shall be…….

  • Yes, the Brownlee brothers took gold and silver medals in the Triathalon of the 2012 London Olympics. Alistair had also won the gold four years earlier, along with world championships. It was he who assisted his brother.

    The answer to the Rugby question, is K J F Scotland (known as Kenny), who played at full back, right wing, centre and fly half (equivalent of quarter back) in addition to being the kicker for the British Lions.

    Few now recall that it was Kenny, who decided that rather than kicking the ball from a fixed position with a direct run and using the toe, it would be more effective to take a curving run-up and use the instep of the foot. That was not only then adopted in Rugby Union, but in Rugby league and American football – changing that aspect with kickers now slotting them over the bar with regularity.

    Kenny was only 5′ 9″ in height and weighed 165 lbs. He oozed talent.

    With regard to Tefilo, that is how I always heard him referred to. The whole of Cuba mourned his loss.

    If perchance we ever meet in Cuba, then let the conversation centre on sport and possibly the arts! I don’t wish to have to pour good beer over your head because of your incorrect political opinions! I assume that we can somehow find some Bucanero!

  • A-Ha !
    You see Mr MacD, we do agree on some things!!
    I was most sorry when the great Stevenson died. He was only 60. (He was one of those Cubans that was always referred to by his surname). As I have said, I heard various things about him in Havana. Maybe this was partly due to him being from Oriente. You know how Habaneros can be about Orientales.
    Apart from that he really was an absolute national hero. I’m very pleased for you that you had the chance to meet him and are able to report his well being at that time.

    And yes, it’s always wise to stay off the topic of politics. It causes endless disputes.

    I’m afraid I’m no expert on Rugby but I have heard of the Brownlea Brothers.
    I recall that one of them famously helped his injured, limping brother over the line to complete a race. Proper true sporting spirit huh?

  • No Nick, although a Cuban he was able to afford the paladar and had good clothes. Although a living legend in the sporting world, he was quite modest to talk to. Nice slow smile and his handshake was firm but not over powerful. Neither of us mentioned politics. When introduced, my initial comment was that it was a privilege to meet such a great Cuban. It was, and remains so.

    I was fortunate in attending a school that has produced some world class athletes – you may for example being a Brit, remember the Brownlee brothers – and sportsmen, and in student days I represented the university at both Rugby and swimming. I first played against London Scottish when only seventeen years of age. ln my long ago Rugby days, I had the pleasure of playing with and against some legendary players, but virtually without exception like Tefilo, they were modest about their achievements.

    As a challenge to you, can you name the only Rugby player in history to play in four different positions for the British Lions? At Club level I had the pleasure of being his vice-captain. Imagine playing every week with such a talent. That too like meeting Tefilo, was a privilege.

    Another factor which I know you will like, is that politics seldom reared its ugly head. But ever increasing levels of professionalism has I think changed that. Sadly, now never a sports page appears without it.

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