Sons of Cuba
‘What is one million dollars compared to the love of eight million Cubans,” said Cuban Heavyweight Olympic boxing champion Teofilo Stevenson when offered the chance to turn professional and fight Muhammad Ali.
Cuba has been one of the most successful nations at the Olympics at boxing, partly due it being against the law to turn professional. So, where great fighters in other nations turn professional, Cuba’s remain amateur and thus still qualify to fight in the Olympics.
Andrew Lang’s documentary on the Havana Boxing Academy largely avoids tough questions about the Cuban political regime and its methods. Following a group of talented 10-year olds as they prepare for the Cuban National championships in 2006, Lang concentrates instead on the tough training schedules, only occasionally touching upon the politics of the country caught at a time when Fidel Castro had passed power onto his brother Raul.
His window into Havana is through the family life of three boxers, and although the hardship is evident, the movie feels romanticised. There is no mention of the disastrous Olympic results in 2008 for example, and any hope that this would be a Cuban Hoop Dreams is dashed soon after the first bell rings.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh on Wed 14 & Thu 15 Apr.