The upturn of Venezuelan boxing is undisputable; its first incursion in the fifth edition of the World Series Boxing 2015 and the results obtained speak of this reality. Since January 2015, 30 Venezuelan boxers, members of Caciques team, have fought against the finest athletes of the world. Seven boxers have qualified to 2015 Toronto Pan-American Games.

Fran Lopez, president of the Venezuelan Boxing Federation, said that in the 10 categories defined by AIBA (Amateur International Boxing Association), Venezuela has pugilists positioned among the top 10 of the ranking, “so we are one of the best 16 franchises on Earth.”

Mr. Lopez thinks that the training before the Pan-American Games has been great, “with high responsibility level. We need six more spaces and we’re going to fight for it in Mexico: three for female athletes and three for men. We’re going to develop a technical tactical work in Cuba, followed by the presence in Mexico and then we go to Canada.”

The average age of the team is 23 years and the president of the Venezuelan Boxing Federation believes that the country can conquer medals in the 13 categories, “although in Toronto we’re going to face the top competitors of the continent, such as Cuba, Canada, United States, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.”

Gabriel Maestre, 69kg; Luis Arcon, 64kg; Joel Pinol, 49kg; and Tayoni Cedeño, continental female champion in 2014, are the main cards of the national team.

It’s important to highlight that boxing has been the sport with the highest number of Olympic medals for Venezuela. Out of the 13 Olympic medals held by the country, five have been won by the pugilists.

“I punch my rivals so they realize what Venezuelans are made of”

The top figure of Venezuelan boxing, Gabriel Maestre, is optimistic when asked about 2015 Toronto. “My main rival is going to be Cuban Roniel Iglesias, who was crowned Olympic champion in London, although we cannot underestimate the rest of the competitors”, he said.

Maestre joined the boxing realm at the age of 13 in the Sports Institute of Anzoategui, on the east region of Venezuela. His first competition took place in the -15 National Cadets Games, where he stood out as the champion, and he later jumped to the national team in the 57kg category.

“I’m currently fighting in the 69kg category and I have passed two Olympic cycles. The last one, in London, was great for me as I got an Olympic diploma, although I lost the bronze against the boxer from Kazakhstan, Serik Sapieyex”, he recalled.

Ever since, his career has gone way up: in 2013 he was the Bolivarian champion in the Games held in Lima; he won the South American championship in Chile 2014 and “in the Central American and Caribbean Games I don’t know what fight the referees were looking at, since they decided that Mexican Marvin Cabrera was the winner”, Maestre underlined.

This pugilist is the best-positioned Venezuelan athlete in the ranking of the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA), as well as the most experienced one in his discipline to participate in Toronto.

His strongest characteristics in the ring are his left hook and his defense. “I move around the ring, but I stand there and fight the rival so they know what Venezuelans are made of”, he underlined.

Maestre thanks Caciques franchise, as it successfully participated in the World Series. “There is great talent in the country, but we need a push. That’s the reason why I praise the Ministry of Sports and the Federation, as they provided resources for Caciques”, the boxer pointed out.

As for the Venezuelan pugilists, he admires “Niño de Oro” Linares, because of his speed, technique and power. In the international scenario, Maestre says that Mayweather has always been his idol, although the so-called “fight of the century” was shy of “contact and punches just like boxers used to do.”