Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cuba Nixes Women's Boxing

Cuba has, bar none, the best amateur boxing program in the world. In part that's because they've done the hard work of building up a top-flight program, in part it's because their top talent is forbidden from leaving the country and has to defect under cover of darkness if they want to turn pro. Six of one, one half of the other. In any event, after Olympic officials announced the addition of women's boxing to the lineup -- the last sport not to be offered to both men and women [update: in the Summer Olympics] -- Cuban officials have announced that they will not be fielding a team. The reason? They're sexist:
"We have no plans at the moment to participate in any international events because we don't think the sport is appropriate for women," Jose Barrientos said in comments reported on Friday by Cuba's official news service, Prensa Latina [President of the Cuban Boxing Federation].
"Cuban women should be showing off their beautiful faces, not getting punched in the face," said Pedro Roque, a top coach of Cuban boxers.

In spite of everything, there is some mythologizing of Cuba by the (mostly European) far-left as having some admirable progressive qualities on human rights. This should be laughable -- Cuba is an oppressive dictatorship and always has been. But this is revealing because it doesn't have anything to do with the exercise of political control. It's just a manifestation of illiberal attitudes towards women, pure and simple.


Turtle Wexler said...

The IOC has yet to allow women's ski jumping, and it, not boxing, remains the last sport not to be offered to both men and women.

David Schraub said...

Good catch! It's the last sport in the Summer Olympics, but I forgot about Ski Jumping in the Winter.

PG said...

This is very different from attitudes in Eastern Europe about women's participation in sport. Heck, the Soviet bloc countries (and nowadays China) were detrimental to women in their enthusiasm to have them participate in competitive sports as much as possible. I wouldn't be surprised if what we're hearing from Cuba is similar to what we're likely to hear from Olympics officials in some other South/ Central American countries.

Turtle Wexler said...

It has been in the news a lot here in Canada, as there was a human rights complaint against the IOC where the result seems to be yes, it's against the law here, but we, the Canadian Supreme Court, don't have jurisdiction. I was hoping that because VANOC is Canadian -- but alas, no. Which is how I knew. Also I prefer winter to summer sports.