Jose Napoles, Kid Gavilan, Luis Manuel Rodriguez, Kid Chocolate, Jose Legra, Benny “Kid” Paret, Kid Tunero, Teofilo Stevenson or Guillermo Rigondeaux are names of some of greats boxers that came from Cuba. Cuban boxing past is glorious and we had a talk with one of the trainers of the famous boxing club:The Rafael Trejo Boxing Gym, coach Rasel Hechavarria Compañy. Now living and training young athletes in United Kingdom, London, he told us the benifits of boxing at young ages, specially in Havana, Cuba. Dive in to Rafael Trejo Boxing Gym to get to know a bit more of boxing in Cuba.

Jab-To-Jab: First of all, thank you for your time and for doing this. Tell us a little bit a more about yourself?

Rasel Hechavarrria Compañy: At this moment I’m a coach. But I started in Cuban National School of boxing. In Cuba there are National schools. One for Children. Then National School of Boxing for the best kids in boxing from 16 to 17 years, that came from all the country. And if you there, it means you are in the national Cuban team. After that I started studying to become professional.

How do think boxing help children better develop their lives in Cuba? What happens is that boxing is a sport were exists lots of disciplined and you need to be disciplined to succeeded. But the children also learn that in school. What happens is that boxing is a sport for children that came mostly from the street. It means children don’t have much access to having a proper education. So, boxing will help them, because it is a sport that you need to study to. Boxing helps children to develop physically and mentally.

Do you happen to know a story of a children that came from the streets and became a successful boxer? Yes, yes, yes! Almost every professional boxer came from this type of situation. I have friends that are Olympic champions that went through this type of situation, like for example Emilio Correa Junior. He was an Olympian champion that came from the same type of situation.

In this moment there are a lot of persons that go to Cuba to train and improve their boxing? Yes, lots of visits from other countries to train. Especially this last few years.  And not just for boxing. Also, MMA, Thai and other combat sports.

What do you think the boxing Cuban style can give to an athlete that comes from another country like Mexico, USA or UK? The biggest difference is that the Cuban style is unique. The origin of our style was created here in Cuba. And, compare to Europe, USA or UK we work a lot the positions of the legs. In Europe the professionals focus more on the hands and strength of the arms. They use more training with hands exercises. 

Witch are the biggest rivals of Cuban boxers? The Russians. Definitely! Because the first boxing school in Cuba was Russian. So, from the beginning of boxing in cuba that they are here. Or first Olympic champion was trained by a Russian coach.

You think older persons can start learning this noble art? Of course. Totally. But I don’t advise competition.

Not everybody has the courage to go and train boxing. They think about it, but then they don’t go… What advise do you give to these persons? I think everybody has courage inside themselves.

If you are already thinking on trying boxing it means you already have the courage to do it. It starts with that. Not everybody in the world thinks about boxing, so if they think about it, that means there’s some courage. 

Photos courtesy: cubanboxingcoach