GIMNASIO DE BOXEO RAFAEL TREJO

When first entering the gym, it feels like you are instantly transported back in time into an ancient roman warrior pit from one of those gladiator movies. But there's no Russell Crow or Charlton Heston here. Instead, of swords, shields, and armor, there’s boxing gloves, hand-wraps, and punching bags.  

 

A sense of grit and ruggedness encapsulates the air. It’s the opposite of your modern day polished up gym with climate controlled thermostat and roof to protect from the elements. It’s raw and rugged. Graffiti can be spotted peppered on the walls. Rusted iron beams hold up hard as rock punching bags. The floor is cracked cement. The ring sits under a thin roof layered of tin or aluminum siding.

 

It’s the bare essentials. No pampering here. Just the forging of heart and spirit combined with sweat and ambition. The boxers? On the exterior, calm and friendly. Underneath, you can feel the explosive and violent energy resonating from within waiting to be unleashed.

We arrived just in time to catch the boxers in their warm up routine. Limbering up, stretching, and running agility exercises with flexibility drills. They started up together with what sounded to be a rhythmic tribal chant.

 

They moved in sync with each other to the beat of the chants and shouts which not only succeeded in raising their body temperature to warm them up but also seemed to raise the spirit and energy of the athletes as well as anyone lucky enough to be around and partake in the ritual.

One of the 1st Female Olympic Team Boxers of Cuba.

 

Idamelys Moreno training to take the gold and make history at the 2020 Olympics as part of the first female boxing team to rise from Cuba. Together with rest of the female boxers, they are looking to start a revolution of their own. Not only are they fighting for Olympic Gold, but they are also punching their way through history for women to finally command the equal respect in Cuban boxing as men do.

There is a strong sense of pride that can be felt amidst the Cuban fighters. A sense of responsibility is also strongly present. The type that can only be built up from a long hard struggle. The type that can only be fortified by the will and hope to never give up.

 

You can sense that they are not just fighting to make a name for themselves. They are fighting with the weight of the country on their shoulders and are determined, no matter what, to not let their people down.

The true measure of strength is not in the amount of muscle you have. It’s not in how defined your six-pack is. It can’t be seen in a mirror or a selfie. The true measure of strength is measured by why you train. Why you fight. Why you push your self to your limits. Why they say you can’t but you say you can. Why you go through the pain. Go through the hurt. It’s why you never give up. It’s why you never look back.

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