Cuban Boxing Legend Félix Savón and Little Jorge’s Beginning

Cuban Boxing Legend Félix Savón and Little Jorge’s Beginning

Félix Savón might not be the first name that comes to mind when one thinks of Cuba, but the 6’5” amateur heavyweight boxer dominated the boxing scene during the 80s and 90s. His rise to stardom began in 1985 when he won the Junior World Championship in Bucharest, Romania, and culminated in his third Olympic Gold Medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

During the height of his career Félix Savón won three consecutive Olympic Gold Medals in heavyweight boxing in 1992, 1996, and 2000, six consecutive Gold titles at the World Amateur Boxing Championships, and also carried the prominent title of Cuban National Champion from 1985 until 1998.

And yet, while many people have admired Félix Savón for his boxing skills, few individuals actually realise what a gentle soul he is. During my time in Cuba, I had a chance encounter with Félix while following Jorge, a 4-year-old little boy who was fighting at training with the other kids in an outdoor ring in central Havana. But more on Jorge later on.

Félix walked in with a smile, joking with all those present at the ring. This smart and elegant man gives off many impressions, but certainly not that he is an amateur heavyweight boxing champion. I had the privilege to be invited to Félix’s family home the following day, which he shared with his wife and five children.

Upon entering his welcoming home, it feels a bit like a boxing museum. The walls and furniture is decorated with an assortment of competitive gold medals, boxing gear, and images from the past. Félix has also taken to painting after his retirement, and many of his artworks can be observed on the walls of his home.

Spending time with Félix was a wonderful experience, as his reflective and calm demeanour perfectly reflects his character and morals. Apart from being popular for his performance on the ring, Félix Savón is also well-known for rejecting several multi-million dollar offers to leave Cuba and fight against Mike Tyson as a professional boxer.

Instead, he stayed loyal to the Cuban revolution, which outlawed professional sports, mimicking the steps of another Cuban boxing great Teofilo Stevenson, who said “I prefer the affection of eight million Cubans”.

And this brings us to Jorge, the timid but strong willed 4-year-old boy who dreams of one day also competing in boxing. It is very hard to miss his creative and playful boxing style when observing him fighting against the other children.

There is really no telling what the future has in store for Jorge, but his warm and stable family life is surely a positive sign of things to come.

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