Brin-Jonathan Butler’s, “A Cuban Boxer’s Journey: Guillermo Rigondeaux, from Castro’s Traitor to American Champion”

Brin

“Once we got inside the lobby of the arena, fighters were scattered around waiting their turn on the scales and a once-over from a doctor to clear them to fight. Among all the reporters and entourages, I couldn’t find Rigondeaux anywhere. The atmosphere inside the room was full of canned laughter, say-cheese smiles, and backslapping. Managers and promoters mugged for cameras with their fighters and recited sound bites to reporters whose faces lit up when they heard the one they’d run with on that evening’s telecast. Hardly any Americans anywhere, mostly Mexican and Latin American fighters looking to break into the American market with a big performance. I watched teenagers with their lives in front of them and a pipedream intact avoid the sad journeymen who also waited their turn on the scales. Eager young fighters on their way up, old fighters double-parked in their careers looking for one last payday to stave off their fate of being another footnote in punch-drunk history.”

Brin-Jonathan Butler, from “A Cuban Boxer’s Journey: Guillermo Rigondeaux, from Castro’s Traitor to America’s Champion”

“In Old Havana, the street names that predate the revolution offer a glimpse into the city’s state of mind at that time. You might have known someone who lived on the corner of Soul and Bitterness, Solitude and Hope, or Light and Avocado. When things changed in Cuba, the names were changed as well, and new signs went up. Ask for directions from a local today, though, and you’re likely to hear the old names. Those names meant something personal and not easily forgotten to the people who lived on those streets. Avocado Street was named for the avocado that grew in the garden of a convent. Hope Street was named for a door in the city wall before it was torn down. Soul Street refers to the loneliness of the street’s position in the city. Sometimes these streets lead to dead ends; others lead to the doorsteps of cathedrals constructed with the explicit intention of turning music into stone.”

Photograph from Giancarlo Ceraudo’s “Soy Cuba”

Gabriel Campillo vs. Thomas Williams, Jr., 8/1/2014

After losing to Campillo, prospect Williams approaches commentator and former boxing trainer Teddy Atlas.

Williams: I’m sorry I let you down.

Atlas: You didn’t let me down. Listen, you got to worry about yourself, you got to worry about your family, you got to worry about who you are. And now is the time to find out who you are. You didn’t let me down, Thomas, not as a person. But as an athlete, tonight, what you did, what happened to you tonight— other great athletes, other great fighters, it’s happened to them before. And what they do now, what they start doing tomorrow, that’s what’s going to tell. Don’t let yourself down. Alright? Pull yourself back up. Because that is the testing of a man, that’s the testing of a champion. What you do after this. What you learn from this. What you do from this moment on.