Boxing in Cuba

Cuba_124

Coach Nardo Mestre Flores showing off his past achievements

Photos and story by Maxby Chan

In 1959, Cuba boasted six world champions but since then, boxing has taken a back seat due to the change in political system and economy. Somehow, through all that turmoil, some passionate boxers kept the flame burning.

Rafael Trejo Boxing Gym (Rafael Trejo Gimnasio al Aire Libre) is situated in the heart of Havana and is one of the oldest. It was named after the revolutionary hero Rafael Trejo who was murdered in 1930.

When I arrived in there one morning, there were a few kids training their boxing skills. We met Coach Nardo Mestre Flores that morning. He explained that he was a member of the national Cuban boxing team for nine years. There was a communication gap, he spoke no English while I spoke no Spanish.

He showed us more magazines featuring his past achievements.

He showed us more magazines featuring his past achievements.

Here the children will be coached on technical skills and drills. Sparring sessions were only conducted on certain days in the month. I was invited to come back on that Friday when they will hold sparring sessions. However, we were on our way to Trinidad. I hope one day I will be able to visit this gym again.

Some of the posters he kept in his little office.

Some of the posters he kept in his little office.

Here, he is teaching one of the students the finer points of defending and attacking

Here, he was teaching one of the students the finer points of defending and attacking

This kid practiced what he was taught.

This kid was practicing what he was taught.

Here is another student who came to join the classes. This gym survived on donations by well wishers.

Here is another student who came to join the classes. This gym survived on donations from well-wishers.

Some of the kids were trying out their newly acquired skills

Some of the kids were trying out their newly acquired skills

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