Cuba Opens to Semi-Pro Boxing

Roniel Iglesias won a gold medal for Cuba at London 2012. Photo: cubahora.cu
Roniel Iglesias won a gold medal for Cuba at London 2012. Photo: cubahora.cu

HAVANA TIMES — After five decades of prohibiting its boxers from going professional the Cuban government has done an about face and will allow boxers to participate in an international semi-professional league dubbed the World Series of Boxing (WSB).

The announcement came Friday from the president of the Cuban Boxing Federation, Alberto Puig. According to AP they will fight without headgear and earn between US $1,000 and $3,000 a month.

Twelve boxing squads will compete in the league from November 15, 2013 to May 2014. Others already announced are Argentina, Mexico, USA, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Poland, Algeria and Germany.

”We are extremely pleased to welcome Cuba to the World Series of Boxing,” AIBA President C.K. Wu said in a statement. ”With a total of 116 World medals and 67 Olympic ones, Cuban boxers have always lived at the pinnacle of our sport. … We are convinced that this new franchise will bring WSB to an even higher level,” reported AP.

The Cuban boxing authorities did not announce how much the Cuban fighters would get paid individually and how much would go to the government. Currently they are paid around $20 a month, an average salary for Cuban workers. Those winning medals at major international amatuer competitions, like the Olympics, receive undisclosed bonuses.

Former President Fidel Castro had ruled out professional sports as not being in tune with the country’s Marxist social ideals. In recent years a small number of Cuban baseball players near retirement age have been allowed to play on contracts in foreign professional leagues.

Those favoring the opening to professional sports believe it will allow Cuban athletes to face stiffer competition and be better prepared to represent the island in international events.


3 thoughts on “Cuba Opens to Semi-Pro Boxing

  • April 27, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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    This is a good thing. Sporting events, frankly, are a part of show business. People should pay to see these “show”–just as they should pay to see movies or ballet performances–and they will usually be glad and honored to do so.

    I think that, yes, Cuba should allow the professionalization of sports, but not on the US model–except in part on the model of the Green Bay Packers, where the team is owned by citizens of the city on some sort of cooperative corporation scheme.

    If professional sporting teams/organizations in Cuba can be co-owned by both players and patrons of the games, this would be ideal. Both players and patrons should have a potent say in what happens with their teams. If the Cuban gov’t would not be a silent co-owner however, taxes on tickets might be a necessary element.

    To my mind, the evil of professional sports is not in charging admission and paying players and staff. It is teams being owned by profit-crazy private investors, patrons being exploited by enormous ticket prices, and players being manipulated, traded around and treated like serfs.

  • April 26, 2013 at 6:08 pm
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    That Cubans are “permitted” to do things that everyone else gets to do just because still pisses me off. Just think, in the last three years, Cubans have been given the right to travel to Havana from other provinces without permission, buy a 40 year-old used car and a house, even start their own businesses (among 178 businesses permitted), and the biggie…travel to other countries without seeking Castro’s permission. Now, they can compete along with other professional boxers for up to $3K per month! Woohoo! What’s next, think for themselves?

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