OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
Julio César La Cruz, 81kg triple World Champion, made history by securing the Olympic gold in Río. Photo: Ricardo López Hevia

RIO DE JANEIRO.— Cuba’s boxers once again provided a decisive closure to the Games in which, as head coach Rolando Acebal noted, the island’s last two finalists set out to win against all odds.

The gold medals won by Robeisy Ramírez (56kg, Cuba’s sixth two-time Olympic champion, at 22 years of age), Arlen López (75kg) and Julio César la Cruz (81kg), added to the bronze medals of Johanys Argilagos (49kg), Lázaro Álvarez (60kg) and Erislandy Savón (91kg), placed the Cuban team in second place on the boxing medal table (3-0-3), following Uzbekistan (3-2-2), which also featured a complete team.

The Cubans were followed by Kazakhstan (1-2-1), France (1-1-2), Russia (1-1-2), Brazil (1-0-0), Azerbaijan (0-1-1), Great Britain (0-1-1), the United States (0-1-1), Colombia (0-1-0), China (0-0-1) and another group of countries that secured just one bronze.

Cuba took eight boxers to London 2012 and won two titles and as many bronze medals. Those same winners competed in Río in different divisions, such as Robeisy Ramírez, who took gold in the 52kg division four years ago, and the then Olympic champion of the 64kg division, Roniel Iglesias, who failed to secure a medal this time round in the 69kg. Lázaro Álvarez, who finished third in the 56kg division in London, again secured the bronze medal, this time in the 60kg, while Yasnier Toledo, 60kg bronze medallist in 2012, didn’t make it beyond two fights in the 64kg.

THE REALITY IN THE RING

Many followers of the sport had predicted more than three gold medals from the dozen Cuban boxers, especially following the success of the Domadores against the British Lion Hearts to seal an impeccable performance at the 6th World Series. The victorious Cuban team of twenty boxers saw a total of 56 wins in 60 bouts.

Despite the fact that the team failed to secure more than three titles in the Olympic ring, in light of their overall performance, boxing again proves to be one of the island’s strongest sports, along with Greco-Roman Wrestling (two gold and one silver medal from four competitors).

Head coach Rolando Acebal, speaking to Granma following several bouts, believed surpassing three gold medals would be a difficult task, due to the quality demonstrated by rivals in this new fight format, where certain boxers are nearing the end of their careers, while others have yet to begin.

Robeisy and Arlen provided convincing wins, securing the Olympic gold in their respective divisions. Photo: Roberto Morejón

Acebal revealed that several judges-referees were excluded from the competition by the International Boxing Association following complaints regarding their decisions. However, the coach at no time blamed the setbacks suffered by Lázaro Álvarez, Roniel Iglesias, Yasnier Toledo and Erislandy Savón on bad decisions, instead noting that they could have done more to secure a win, once the competition drew to a close.

THREE WORLD CHAMPIONS SECURE GOLD

Of the 25 editions of Olympic boxing, the United States maintains the lead with 50 gold, 24 silver and 39 bronze medals in total. However, just six U.S. contenders (49kg, 52kg, 56kg, 60kg, 64kg, 75kg) made it to Río, only managing to secure a silver medal with Shakur Stevenson (56kg) and a bronze with Nico Miguel Hernández (49kg). Cuba saw its overall Olympic total increase to 37 gold, 23 silver and 41 bronze medals.

Of the 286 boxers from 76 nations that competed, just two were London 2012 Olympic Champions - Robeisy Ramírez and Roniel Iglesias - while ten Qatar 2015 World Champions featured, of whom only Arlen Lopez (75kg), Julio César la Cruz (81kg), Russia’s Evgeny Tishchenko (91kg) and Tony Yoka (+91kg) of France, secured Olympic glory, while other Qatar silver and bronze medal winners were eliminated along the way.

OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS BY DIVISION

49kg: Hasanboy Dusmatov (UZB). 52kg: Shakhobidin Zoirov (UZB). 56kg: Robeisy Ramírez (CUB). 60kg: Robson Conceiçao (BRA). 64kg: Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (UZB). 69kg: Daniyar Yeleussinov (KAZ). 75kg: Arlen López (CUB). 81kg: Julio César la Cruz (CUB). 91kg: Evgeny Tishchenko (RUS). +91kg: Tony Yoka (FRA).