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Cuba’s boxing training headquarters are in the suburbs of Havana, at an emblematic place called La Finca del Wajay. It is a veritable hive of activity dedicated to the rigorous physical preparation of athletes. Head of the technical crew is Rolando Acebal who receives the counsel of the legendary Alcides Sagarra.
2013 saw the entry of the Domadores de Cuba to the World Series of Boxing for the 2013/14 tournament. Although strictly speaking this is run on a franchise system with no nationality requirements, there remains a nationalistic fervor behind those fighting for the country of their franchise. In Cuba’s case, they have used their best fighters and have swept all before them swiftly dispelling doubts that the change in format to 5-round bouts with no head protection would reduce their advantage (in Olympic amateur boxing they fight 3-round bouts with head gear).
For most Cuban fans, unable to enjoy professional boxing for more than fifty years, the incorporation into the World Boxing Series has been a real boon. The all-star cast of Cuban boxers includes World bronze medalist Yosvani Veitía (49 kg), feather-weight Marcos Forestal, world champion Lázaro Álvarez (60 kg), world champion Julio César la Cruz (64 kg), Ramón Luis (75 kg), Arinoidis Despaigne (81 kg) and heavyweight Erislandy Savón (91 kg). The atmosphere at the Ciudad Deportiva for the home bouts has been electric especially in the eliminatory stages.
They remain overwhelming favorites for the final having comfortably topped their group and then defeated the US and Russia in the quarter and semifinals, respectively. The final will be held at the home of their opponents, the Azerbaijan Baku Fires, who overcame an inconsistent qualification to beat the reigning champions from Kazakhstan in the semifinal.
Vivan los Domadores!
FINAL, World Series of Boxing, Azerbaijan
June 6-7, 2014
June 2014 This article formed part of the june 2014 issue of What’s On Havana The definitive monthly travel & culture guide to Havana Download our current issue of What’s On Havana, your definitive travel, culture and entertainment guide for all things happening in Havana, Cuba’s bustling and enigmatic capital city. We include features from around Cuba written by the best international travel writers covering Cuba. Our monthly online digital magazine is also available in Spanish and French.
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