“A Cuban Boxer’s Journey: Guillermo Rigondeaux – From Castro’s Traitor to America’s Champion” by Brin-Jonathan Butler
Boxing, history, professional, politics
June 3, 2014
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Guillermo Rigondeaux was a two-time Olympic boxing champion for Cuba who decided to take a shot at the big money of professional boxing in America. Unlike the boxer to whom he was often compared, Teofilo Stevenson, he didn’t believe that just the admiration of his countrymen was the best he could do in the sport. Rigondeaux’s tale of pursing the American Dream and what his cost to him and his family is chronicled in this enjoyable work by Brin-Jonathan Butler.
After Fidel Castro called Rigondeaux a “traitor” after the latter’s failed defection to Brazil in 2007, the young boxer became a “canary in a coal mine” as he later hopped aboard smuggler’s boat and fought in the United States, including on the undercard of a Manny Pacquio fight held at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas where he performed well in front of the largest crowd he had seen.
While the coverage of Rigondeaux’s boxing matches and career is interesting and makes a good book by itself, Butler’s work shines even brighter when he writes about the struggles of the young man in both Cuba and the United States and how the two cultures can share in the difficulties in his decision to turn professional. There are also interviews with other Cuban boxers to give the reader a good picture of the Cuban boxing culture and the stories of struggles by Rigondeaux in both nations and how he overcame them are gripping and the best part of this book. It is one that is recommended by anyone who enjoys reading about boxing, politics and different cultures.
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