Yowlys Bonne is one of the leading figures in the Cuban national freestyle wrestling team. Photo: Ricardo López Hevia

Gladiator Yowlys Bonne (61 kilograms) from Guantánamo, bronze medalist in the 2014 World Wrestling Championships, knows full well his role within the national freestyle wrestling team.

Along with Havana’s Rieneris Salas (97kg) and Alejandro Valdés (65kg), Bonne figures as one of the experienced fighters, in charge of guiding the younger generation of wrestlers currently forming the national team and training for the new Olympic cycle of Tokyo 2020.

After being absent from the most recent national championship, due to a cruciate ligament injury, Yowlys made his comeback before Cuban fans during the 50th edition of the Granma-Cerro Pelado International Wrestling Tournament, where he revalidated his position as number one on the island, defeating the promising Dabian Quintana, from Camagüey, brother of Athens 2004 Olympic gold medalist Yandro Quintana, in the 61kg final.

Granma International couldn't miss the opportunity to talk with this fighter, who for the second consecutive season is performing in the German wrestling league, better known as the Bundesliga.

“This is my second year in Germany with the ASV Nendingen club, unfortunately I had the misfortune to injure my knee during my first fight against Romanian George Bucur, from ASV Mainz 88, on October 29, 2016,” the Cuban wrestler noted.

Bonne couldn’t return to competition until last December 10, when he convincingly defeated Bulgarian Vladimir Dubov, from the KSV Köllerbach team, 1-0.

“I could only wrestle four fights, I won three and I lost the one in which I injured myself. That tournament is a true school; you are nourished by many experiences, as you collide with opponents with very different characteristics. In addition, you enrich your technical arsenal and learn how to handle each fight,” he explained.

What are the differences between the Bundesliga and other international competitions in which you have participated?

In the German league, you have the possibility of constantly competing against high-level rivals, not just Germans, as athletes from several countries participate. The differences between this tournament and a major championship such as a Grand Prix or a World Cup are in the training you must undergo, according to the characteristics of each event. For example, in the Bundesliga you have a weekly fight, while in other international competitions you undertake all the fights on the same day. The preparation is different and the technical-tactical thinking is different. It’s not the same to prepare - mentally and physically - for a daily fight, than for four or five in a day.

In Germany there is the peculiarity that training takes place at night...

There is a different training system, the food is different, we really have all the necessary conditions created. In that country, a large number of the German wrestlers are not only dedicated to the sport, but also work. That is why the training takes place after working hours. That allowed the foreign athletes to use the morning to train among ourselves.

When are you planning to return to Germany?

In September I need to be there again, I plan to sign a new contract.

Mijaín López, three-time Olympic champion, also featured alongside you in the team however, the club decided to let him go...

Until the season that just ended, only one foreign fighter could compete in each daily program, so either he fought, or I did, but luckily this year the rules will change. In the interests of the team, they needed me to compete more. When I was injured, we thought it was going to be a fairly minor setback and that’s why I was always announced for every match. In the end I couldn’t compete and therefore neither of us fought.