Women’s boxing in Cuba has taken a significant step forward. After years of waiting, Cuban female boxers have finally had the opportunity to showcase their talent and determination in the ring. This historic advancement has been celebrated both on and off the island and has opened new doors for women’s development.

Breaking Barriers: The Path to the Officialization of Women’s Boxing in Cuba

The officialization of women’s boxing in Cuba was a long-awaited and lengthy process. While male boxing has always been recognized in the country, women fought for years to obtain the opportunities they deserved in this sport.

Until December 2022, Cuba had authorized women to practice all sports, including wrestling and weightlifting… except boxing. The right of Cuban women to box had been defended even by the renowned coach Alcides Sagarra, recognized as the creator of the so-called “Cuban school of boxing.” “We cannot deny Cuban women the right to compete,” he said before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Finally, before the end of that year, the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education, and Recreation (INDER) decided to put an end to its archaic policy and officially recognized the practice of women’s boxing in Cuba. On December 17, 2022, the first ever boxing event for Cuban women took place in the ring of the Córdoba Cardín High-Performance Athletes Training School, with the participation of 14 fighters.

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“A thorough study was conducted, and we didn’t let time pressure us. We took a confident step (…) convinced that we had no concerns about our women being protected,” stated the national boxing commissioner, Alberto Puig.

One of the fighters who participated in that event was Idamelis Moreno. She had been waiting for seven years for the official recognition of this sport by the authorities. “I took a break because I had a baby, and I was a bit away from the ring, but when we received the news on the 5th of last month, we resumed training. Now we have to prepare well to represent my country,” she stated in an interview published in the newspaper 5 de septiembre.

However, Cuban female boxers still face numerous obstacles, including deep-rooted gender stereotypes in society and a lack of opportunities to train and compete. Nevertheless, their persistence and passion for the sport will enable them to overcome all these barriers.

Arianne Imbert: The First Female Boxing Champion in Cuba

The debut of Cuban women’s boxing in international tournaments took place at the fifth edition of the ALBA Games 2023 held in La Guaira, Venezuela. Cuba sent six boxers to this tournament: Arianne Imbert (66 kg); Legnis Cala (57 kg), Reynabell Grant (50 kg), Juliannet Díaz (54 kg), Lianet Gómez (60 kg), and former wrestler Yaquelín Stornel (75 kg).

Cala made history as the first Cuban female boxer to participate in an official match, although she lost to Russian boxer Daria Abramova. Later, Imbert, from Guantanamo, entered the record books by defeating Nicaraguan boxer Mayerling Brandon. The six Cuban fighters who competed in this tournament won bronze medals.

Heading to Paris 2024: The Goal of Cuban Women’s Boxing

Cuba has its sights set on the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, and women’s boxing is an integral part of this goal. Women made their debut at the London 2012 Summer Games with three weight divisions, and in Tokyo, there were five divisions. In the French capital, they will compete in six weight categories.

Success in international tournaments is crucial for qualifying for a tournament that will be directly organized by the Olympic Committee, which recently ceased to recognize the International Boxing Association as the governing body for this sport in the Summer Games.

Cuban women’s boxing has a promising future. The Federation announced that the first national women’s event in the Olympic weight categories will be held in November of this year. Additionally, for the first time, girls interested in practicing boxing between the ages of 15 and 16 will be allowed to enroll in the country’s high-performance sports schools.

These are encouraging news, although it is highly unlikely that Cuba will achieve significant results in the world of women’s boxing in the near future. Talent has never been lacking, but the bell signaling the start of the long battle for the pinnacle of this sport rang a long time ago, and no Cuban woman was allowed to step into the ring.