- Title: FILE: BOXING: Boxing promoter in Miami says Cuban boxer Rigondeaux has defected
- Date: 24th February 2009
- Summary: FILE (HAVANA, CUBA - AUGUST 8, 2007) (REUTERS) BOXER GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX'S STREET AND HOUSE RIGONDEAUX IN HOUSE RIGONDEAUX'S PAN AM GAMES IDENTIFICATION CARD VARIOUS OF RIGONDEAUX'S TROPHIES VARIOUS OF NEWSPAPER GRANMA SHOWING CASTRO'S THOUGHTS ON THE BOXERS
- Embargoed: 11th March 2009 12:00
- Topics: Entertainment,Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA840TLXE4WO9JRYW8Y3L86Q76N
- Story Text: Cuban boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux has defected, says a boxing promoter in Miami.
Cuban boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux has defected, a boxing promoter in Miami said on Monday (February 23).
Rigondeaux, the bantamweight champion at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, is in Miami and has signed a contract with ARENA Box-Promotion, the fight promoter said in a written statement.
The boxer fell into disfavour with the Cuban government after trying to desert the national team two years ago. Rigondeaux, 28, was dropped from Cuba's squad for the Beijing Olympics in August after running afoul of Cuban authorities when he and teammate Erislandy Lara failed to turn up for scheduled bouts at the Panamerican Games in Rio de Janeiro in July 2007.
The two were soon located by Brazilian police, who said the boxers regretted their decision and wanted to return to Cuba. Then-Cuban leader Fidel Castro blamed the United States for the attempted defections, saying the two had betrayed their country for money.
After returning to Cuba in 2007, Rigondeaux said: "No, I don't think it was a betrayal because I wouldn't betray Cuba. I'm very dedicated to the revolution and I'm still here in my country doing my work. My life is still normal. I have to wait for instructions from my superiors and stay here at home like always, like everyone, with all the people who love me."
Cuba is an Olympic boxing superpower and has produced great fighters like Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon, both of whom resisted rich offers from U.S. promoters.
Cuba won five of 11 gold medals at the Athens Olympics in 2004, but was soon hampered by a string of defections, including those of former world welterweight champion Lara, who fled to Mexico last year and Athens heavyweight champion Odlanier Solis. Both signed professional contracts with Germany-based ARENA Box-Promotion.
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