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How a boxer fighting in Manchester tonight typifies the horrors of Fidel’s Cuba

Anyone with a slight interest in UK Boxing will probably be watching the unstoppable Anthony Joshua (17 wins, 0 losses, 17 KOs) defend his IBF heavyweight title tonight and almost certainly demolish Erik Molina. However, on the undercard is another heavyweight, Luis Ortiz, known as the “Real King Kong”, who has an equally impressive record (26 wins, 0 losses, 22 KOs). He’s quite interesting because Cuba has produced many great boxers, but no great heavyweights – Ortiz is considered the greatest ever Cuban heavyweight.

As you may know, despite producing legendary boxers, the Stalinist regime in Cuba forbids them from turning professional, so they have to stay amateurs for the rest of their lives – or defect.

Ortiz took the decision to defect to the USA in 2009, not to secure a lucrative professional contract, but to able to pay for his daughter’s illness. Despite the Cuban propaganda, the healthcare system in Cuba is terrible. Their answer to Ortiz’s little girl being born with necrosis in one of her fingers, despite everywhere else in the world being able to treat this, the only answer from Cuban doctors was to amputate. Ortiz was left with two choices, stay in Cuba, fight as an amateur for the rest of his life, stay in relative poverty and have his baby daughter go her life without a finger or risk his and his family’s life by making a perilous journey to America where he can make an incredible living for his world class talents and his daughter doesn’t have to have a finger cut off and face a lifetime of backwards medical practice. 

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