A few months back, Desiree and Iulian, a young travelling couple from Romania stumbled upon one of Cuba’s biggest boxing schools hidden somewhere in Old Havana on the narrow street of Cale Cuba – Escuela Rafael Trejo.

Although Fidel Castro has imposed draconian measures to abolish the practice of professional boxing in 1962, Cubans found a way to circumvent the system and so far this noble practice has reached the status of a national sport. Not for women, although.

Even if exercising conditions are tough for the athletes, who train at 40 Celsius degrees in an improvised open air space- their performances are mind blowing: in recent years Cuba has won the Olympic Games with no less than 67 medals, out of which 34 were gold. Today Cuba occupies the second place worldwide after the United States.

Namibia Flores, the only female boxer in Cuba has a masculine allure, a playful walk, wearing a pair of denim jeans and is affectionately greeting some of the athletes.

She was training at Rafael Trejo boxing School since seven years but the Cuban government refuses to recognize women’s professional boxer status, so that Namibia will not be able to test her performance in the Olympics. The only viable option is for her to leave the country.

Text: Desiree Halaseh
Photos: Iulian Ursachi

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