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Havana Threats Against Their Families Made Boxers Give Up Defecting in Brazil

Cuban boxers Rigondeaux and Lara return to Cuba Cuban boxers Guillermo Rigondeaux, 26, and Erislandy Lara, 24,both world champions, changed their mind after having decided to defect during last month's Pan American Games, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, because they couldn't stand the pressure from the Cuban regime, which threatened to harm their relatives who live in Cuba.

This is the explanation given by  Ahmet í–ner, the German boxing promoter of Turkish origin who wanted to take them to Germany, in a interview to daily Folha de S. Paulo.

"Now they say that they are sorry, that they did nothing," tells the promoter. "It's all blah blah blah. They wanted to go to Germany to become professionals and for the money. They only changed their story because they couldn't stand the pressure. They told Rigondeaux and Lara that due to their attempt to defect, they would do this and that to their relatives. They are quite young and couldn't take it." 

In one of several versions of their story the boxers told Brazil's Federal police that they had been drugged by the Germans and that they had got lost after this episode.

Commenting on this story, í–ner said: "Never. Neither I nor anyone who went to Brazil to meet them would do such a thing.  We are not this kind of people".

According to í–ner, the Cubans "drank and met dancers because they wanted, out of their own free will."  "Why would I do this?," he asks. "I don't need it. I work with three of their Cuban friends. My Cubans are my business card." He was talking about the Cuban boxers who defected last December.

Rigondeaux and Lara, who returned to Havana Sunday, August 4, in an interview published this Thursday by Granma, the government controlled newspaper, told still another story. This time, they present the Brazilian police as trying to convince them to stay in Brazil.

Rigondeaux said: "Everybody was telling us the same thing. Don't go back to Cuba, because there is a big punishment waiting for you there."

His colleague Lara stated that they had been offered money to defect, but that they declined and contacted Brazilian authorities instead. "The Federal Police." he told, "asked us to stay in Brazil because in Brazil we would make much more money than in Cuba and that they would make the passports so that we might become Brazilians officially."

Responding to this, Brazil's Federal Police stated that they never encouraged the Cuban athletes to defect: ""The athletes themselves took the decision to leave the delegation. In a case like this the Federal Police's duty is to offer shelter. This is our duty. The police chief offered shelter about three times. A person who abandons a delegation has his reasons, that's why the police offer shelter to assure his life and his right to choose," said a Federal Police spokesman.


  • Show Comments (7)

  • Ric

    Okay, I never called you a Socialist and accept your explanation. Since that is so, your use of language indicates that if nothing else, you are naive.

  • Michael William

    Are you calling me a socialist? Did you read my post? I am a true-blooded capitalist, business owner and most of the post calls out socialists.

  • Ric

    I Love It
    Making Cuba into “the most sinister, right wing regime in existence”. Now even socialists are writing off Cuber….”NÀƒ£o foi eu..”

  • Brazilian Dude

    An example…
    Is what the leftists consider mr Castro.And that is because they tried to implant a totalitarian regime here, with them in command, just lika Castro did.(they are still trying). Our leftists are dangerous people, make no mistake about that. To them , democracy is something they use to come to power, but that is a hindrance after that.
    Unfortunately, Brazilians in general don’t know that.

  • Michael William


    While the ideology behind the Cuban Revolution may have Communist/Marxist, the sad reality is that Cuba today is Totalitarian/Maoist. It is a police state similar to those Orwell predicted would arise.

    If one were to visit Cuba, he would find nearly 100% of the cubans willing to do anything to escape – primarily to the U.S.A. They would risk their lives to escape. If one were to pretend he was from Canada or a European country, he would find the Cubans disappointed that he was not American, who they view to be true friends and supporters. Nearly every aspect of a Cuban’s life is controlled by the State. The country is one large prison.

    I still find it hard to understand how Brazilian leftists pretend to support Castro and idolize the legacy of Che when essentially all Cubans want to escape the reality the Totalitarian regime has created. There are no freedoms in Cuba. No freedom of the press. No access to the internet. No right to improve one’s life. No freedom of expression. The secret police monitor everything and they are everywhere. Rations are not sufficient to feed the children. The people are miserable and willing to risk their lives to escape. All one has to do is spend a few weeks there to see the sad confinement the Cubans must endure. It is something worth experiencing. With the exceptions of places like Myanmar and extreme islamist states, there is perhaps nowhere in the world that will make someone appreciate basic freedoms.

    Yet the idiot supporters of the Castro regime still take pleasure when he makes some stupid P.R. ploy to “stand up” to Yankee Imperialism. Ask any of these people to go live there for a year and see if they are not singing a different tune.

    I am no Cuba hater. The people are determined as can be and I think our policy of isolation and embargo has only helped Castro – the rich Cubans living in the U.S. who have so much control over electoral politics in Florida essentially control U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba. Our embargos and sanctions have probably helped Fidel more than hurt him. If we opened it up, the people would probably have enough resources to depose him actually.

    But when the leftist Brazilians support Fidel, I don’t think they realize they are backing what is probably the most sinister, right-wing regime in existence.

  • bo

    [quote]A person who abandons a delegation has his reasons[/quote]

    No doubt. What a shame that they felt that they had to return or they’re relatives would be tortured or killed. Communism….what a great system!

  • João da Silva

    [quote]According to Àƒ”“ner, the Cubans “drank and met dancers because they wanted, out of their own free will.” [/quote]

    They just followed the example of their “El Comandante”.Hope they went to Clube Bahamas,before it was closed.

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