Like a rare bird, the Cuba Domadores are difficult to spot. In a country where there is virtually no broadband internet access and getting online costs $7 US an hour (whilst the average salary is only $20 a month), there is naturally enough not much in the way of social media sharing.
Thus it was a pretty exciting event when our team in Mexico managed to watch the squad training in the final stages of their build up to the historic World Series of Boxing (WSB) match between the Cuban Domadores and the Mexico Guerreros. This will be the first time that Cuban boxers have fought in pro-style competition since Fidel Castro banned the pro-version of the sport in 1962.
The session opened up with a ten minute speech from the coaches about the weigh in tomorrow. They reminded the boxers of the importance of making weight and told them that following this session they were to rest well for the next 30 hours to ensure they were ready for their fights.
Excited to see how the Cubans ran their sessions we were slightly surprised that the boxers warmed up with their own individual music playing through their headphones. La Cruz and Veitia were particularly in the zone and cut-off from the outside world. Indeed Veitia seemed to be the most focused in the group from the very first second while Toledo was the most relaxed, making jokes and fun of his team mates and coaches.
The session began properly with shadow boxing in front of the mirror. At this stage you could start feeling a difference in the concentration of everyone, even Toledo stopped smiling and became one of the most powerful hardest working boxers in the room.
Bag work soon followed. Toledo impressed by his power and La Cruz with is technical skills at this point.
Sparing with the kids based at the CNAR (El Centro Nacional de Desarrollo de Talentos Deportivos y Alto Rendimiento – The National Sports Centre for High Performance and Talent Development) was next. There was clear respect shown all round but the young boxers did take it to their Cuban visitors, Oñate even seemed to be struggling, which raises questions about how the Cubans will react to the altitude of boxing in Mexico City, which is at 2,600m and high enough to be used as an altitude training camp for athletes. On the other hand they may have been holding back to observe the Mexican style more closely.
Finally, In a great show of sportsmanship they spent lots of time taking pictures and making a fuss of the young Mexican boxers afterwards.
The Cuban team will now try to rest before their match with the Guerreros which will take place at 9pm local time in Mexico City on Thursday and Friday this week. We will report from the weigh in tomorrow morning. The match will be broadcast live on youtube (more details to follow shortly).