February 1959, Fidel Castro becomes Prime Minister of Cuba. Usurping power from Fulgencio Batista and beginning the historical chapter known as the Cuban Revolution.
During this revolution, Castro undertook measures to re-institute the "Constitution of 1940", which was suspended during Batista’s reign.
This constitution was widely considered as one of the more progressive constitutions of its time. It provided land reform, public education requirements, minimum wage, and other pioneering ideas.
However, for all the good he achieved, Castro began to move towards the more Marxist hard-liners in his government.
Some point to hostility from America’s Eisenhower administration, due to the nationalization of U.S owned businesses amounting to the value of just over a billion. Others say Socialism was the direction that Castro intended for the country from the beginning.
It was at this point where the worlds of Politics and Sports met.
On November 19th 1962, Fidel Castro passes Castro’s Resolution 83-A, which bans all professional sports.
Two sports suffer the most from this; the first is baseball which was played in Cuba since 1874. The other is boxing.
The ruling relegated both the above to amateur competition, with the only real outlet being the Olympics.
Prior to the Athens Olympics of 2004, Cuban amateur boxers amassed an amazing 27 gold medals, 13 silver and 7 bronze. This kind of showing, be it only every four years, made people question how well these athletes would do in the professional ranks.
The Olympics have always been a good place to tout future prospects. One of these that stood out for the Cuban team was Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Gamboa stamped his mark on the Olympic flyweight division. He claimed the gold medal, impressing with his hand speed and technique.
In a movie moment, the Cuban government tried to pressure Gamboa into staying amateur until the 2008 Olympics. However, Gamboa and three of his teammates escaped Cuba.
They all defected to Columbia and sought out papers to enter the United States.
The Cuban government overruled US homeland security and the trio were forced on a detour, via Germany.
This is where Gamboa made his debut in the professional ranks.
His first bout was in Hamburg, April 2007. Opponent, Alexan Manvelyan, was beaten up throughout the fight and was dropped in the third. Gamboa picked up the decision and had the networks sniffing around for a deal with this prospect.
Most fighters in their pro-infancy would avoid decent fighters.
However, Gamboa’s first seven opponents had a combined record of 154 victories, they owned collective 80 per cent win rate.
This gained the respect of the boxing community because an onlooker could really ascertain the true potential of this very talented boxer.
However, every young boxer has a weakness and Gamboa sometimes suffers from a lax defense.
This is a skill that his trainers will have to work on, but most of the time his opponents are on the back foot. This is due to his fast combinations and power.
His last fight (Oct. 4th 2008), against Marco’s Ramirez (25-0-0, at the time), showed that Gamboa can keep his composure. After going down in the first, due to a wrist to the head, Gamboa roared back to knock his opponent down twice in the second and secure another victory.
If Gamboa continues to impress, his efforts will be rewarded with a title shot.
This will come probably sooner rather than later.
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