For those interested in boxing, Cuba is a great destination where bouts are regularly advertised in the larger towns and cities for the public to watch. The local sala polivalente is where the events take place, although boxing training and small bouts occur in the gym.

Although the boxing in Cuba is technically amateur, the level is that of professionals so to watch a match is considerably cheaper than watching the same level in your home country.

Before professional sport was prohibited in 1962, Cuba had seen some legendary boxers, but it was the 1972 Munich Olympics where Cuba's boxing prowess amazed the world, picking up 3 gold medals, 1 silver and 1 bronze.

Since then they have continued to be a dominant force at the games, as per the below medals table. They are the prevalent nation in both bantamweight and heavyweight categories, having picked up 5 gold and 2 silver medals for bantemweight and an impressive 7 golds and 1 bronze for heavyweight, a medal for every year they entered the Olympic event.

year 1972 1976 1980 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 TOTAL
3 3 6 7 4 4 5 - 32
1 3 2 2 3 - 2 4 17
1 2 2 - - 2 1 4 12
5 8 10 9 7 6 8 8 61

In Cuba, boxing is considered a team sport which according to the national team's legendary coach of 4 decades, Alcides Sagarra Carón, "is well suited to the Cuban character. We are brave, resolute and selfless. We have strong convictions and clear definition. We are pugnacious and we like to fight."

Boxing in Cuba originally began as a tourist attraction but interest in the sport has maintained. The first Cuban boxer to hold a world boxing title was Kid Chocolate in the 1930's. The first to win an Olympic medal was Rolando Garbey in the 1968 games who picked up the silver.


When the Cuban government made professional sports illegal, many of Cuba's boxers left the country to continue their professional careers, as too did many other athletes and sporting heroes of the time. Those who stayed in Cuba, passed on their knowledge, skills and experience to the new generations.

Cuba's boxing stars, like all Cuban athletes, stay as amateurs throughout their careers. Those who defect to other countries have to make a difficult personal decision in entering the professional circuit as in their home country boxers are treated as heroes. Teófilo Stevenson was famously quoted as saying "What's a million dollars, compared to five million Cubans who love me?" when a bout with Muhammad Ali was being considered.

It is also interesting to note that in Cuba boxers tend to be older than their overseas counterparts. They are tend to lose weight in order to enter a lower weight class and have a power advantage over their opponents.

Some of the greatest boxers Cuba has seen include:

  • Evelio Celestino Mustelier - Kid Tunero's career was almost 150 fights in close to 20 years
  • Florentino "the ox" Fernández - one of the best punchers of all time (Ring Magazine, 2003)
  • Benny "Kid" Paret - 1960 world welterweight title holder
  • José Legra - won an impressive 60 bouts over 4 years (1963 - 1967)
  • Joel Casamayor - el Capillo won Olympic gold in 1992 as well as 20 straight victories before winning and defending (many times) the WBA Super Featherweight title
  • Ultiminio "Sugar" Ramos* - WBC and WBA title holder, won 55 of 66 fights, 40 by KO
  • Luis "El Feo" Rodriguez* - World Welterweight champion, won 107 of 121 fights
  • José "Mantequilla" Nápoles* - World Welterweight Champion in 1969
  • Eligio Sardiñas Montalvo* - Kid Chocolate made an impressive 21 KO's in 21 bouts
  • Gerardo González* - Kid Gavilan won 108 bouts, lost 30 but was never KO'd
  • Félix Savón - 3 time Olympic gold medal winner
  • Teófilo Stevenson - 3 time Olympic gold medal winner, won his first heavyweight title aged 20
  • Jorge Luis Gonzales - won 31 of 39 bouts, 27 by KO
  • Juan Carlos Gómez - undefeated in 34 fights and WBC Cruiserweight title holder from 1998 to 2002

* Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame

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