The Playa Girón Tournament, a Showcase for Boxing Talent

Pinar del Rio, Cuba, 16 December._The 50th Playa Girón national boxing tournament being held in the western province of Pinar del Río has once again become a showcase for local boxing talent.The history of this tournament goes back to May 1962, after professional boxing ended in Cuba, and its name refers to the first defeat of imperialism in Latin America one year earlier, also known as the Bay of Pigs invasion.

In a country that had a number of world champions in professional boxing, such as Kid Chocolate and Kid Gavilán, the challenge for this tournament was to help ensure a continuing interest in boxing as a sport.

The new mentality brought new talents, and the first tournament featured fighters who later became famous in the region, such as Roberto Caminero, Fermín Espinosa and Waldo Santiago. Santiago later was made National Boxing Commissioner.

As the years passed, new stars continued to emerge, such as triple Olympic champions Teófilo Stevenson and Félix Savón, the latter a 13-time national champion who won almost every title between the mid-1980s and 1999. Another name worth recalling is that of Lorenzo Aragón, the only fighter to win six titles in different divisions.

Nationwide, two provinces have produced boxers that have won the most medals by team: Havana and Santiago de Cuba.

The tournament has created many memories over the last 50 years – joy and sadness, victories and spectacular defeats, champions who have not necessarily fought in international rings. Most boxers who win this tournament, however, have also done so representing their country abroad.

Fortunately, over this half century, every Cuban province has been able to appreciate the best of Cuban boxing at every moment in history, and also the majority of the country's almost 200 municipalities, with matches held throughout the island.

It has been 50 years of sweat and sometimes titanic efforts to organize these tournaments, which can involve up to 100 fighters and a similar number of coaches, physical therapists, doctors, support personnel and reporters.

For that reason, we toast what continues to be one of the best national boxing tournaments in the world, comparable only to that of the former Soviet Union, or today, Russia, the other boxing powerhouse. (Prensa Latina)