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.