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A Cuban Boxer's Journey: Guillermo Rigondeaux, from Castro's Traitor to American Champion (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Brin-Jonathan Butler
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $3.79
Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description


“What is one million dollars compared to the love of eight million Cubans?”

This was the question posed by legendary boxer Teofilo Stevenson in the 1970s, crowned by many as the Muhammad Ali of Cuba, in response to an offer of five million dollars to leave his island to fight Ali. But not all Cubans have come to the same conclusion, let alone with such apparent ease. Guillermo Rigondeaux, two-time Olympic champion and heir to Stevenson’s throne, sacrificed everything he had in his home country—his wife, his son, his government-subsidized car and house, as well as universal reverence among his fellow citizens—to try to make it in the mecca of big-money boxing, the United States of America. But has the chance to make good in America been worth the loss of his national identity and the love of his countrymen? And to what extent has he been corrupted by the promise of untold riches?

In A Cuban Boxer’s Journey, author, filmmaker, and journalist Brin-Jonathan Butler chronicles the fascinating and tumultuous career of Rigondeaux—moody, driven, and almost mythically talented––as he attempts to capture the elusive and often punishing American dream. See how this athlete’s most daunting challenge becomes how he can survive the complex forces outside of the ring.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1961 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (June 3, 2014)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ID8G848
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,579 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put this down June 5, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Hard not to love a writer who bets the last thousand bucks he has on the fighter he's writing about, and wins. Butler says thugs stole all his film equipment at Rigondeaux's bizarre Dublin fight, and Rig asked Butler for a cut after knocking out his Irish opponent in the first round at 20 to 1 odds. The Cuban champion gave up his homeland for the American Dream, but after getting this story, Butler can't go back to Cuba either. Butler interviewed many Olympic boxing gold medalists in Havana, but Castro’s surveillance cameras were watching. This is one of those powerful personal stories where you wonder you wonder who is going to get locked up first: the subject of the story, or the writer.

What’s extraordinary here is the writing. This book may be the last glimpse we get at life in Cuba before the Castro era ends, and Butler’s prose is so vivid and full of soul that it’s like being there yourself before the curtain comes down forever. Butler doesn’t judge, but he scratches the mirror of both the American Dream and the Cuban Myth, letting us see the craziness beneath on each side. It’s a high wire act pulled off with startling insight and compassion. Butler’s talent packs punch after punch, and he navigates the shark-infested territory of his subject with prose that leaves you breathless. This was a joy to read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Examination Of Cuban Society June 3, 2014
By Ortsac
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"A Cuban Boxer's Journey" describes Guillermo Rigondeaux as a "canary in the coalmine" as he ventures from elite status in Cuba as a two-time Olympic champion, to Fidel Castro's "traitor" after a failed defection attempt in Brazil of 2007. Then, in 2009, this story takes a profound turn as Rigondeaux steps onto a smuggler's boat as hugely lucrative human cargo and essentially shipwrecks into the American dream four years later when he routes boxing's 2012 "fighter of the year" Nonito Donaire. But whatever success Rigondeaux enjoys in America he's haunted by what Butler describes as Cuba's answer to "Sophie's Choice," whereby he abandoned his home and country and family to enjoy the riches of America. The decision that faced Rigondeaux is an all too ordinary Cuban impossible choice, but his own minefield entering one of the most distilled versions of capitalism with pro-boxing is enthralling. Rigondeaux is facing some of the most dangerous men inside a ring, yet outside that ring he's vulnerable to forces he's never encountered in his homeland. It's a comprehensive, daring, powerful tale that transcends sports and politics and finds the human beings held hostage and caught in the crosshairs. "Would you rather fight for Don King or Fidel Castro?" is just such a marvelous place to boil down Cuban and American culture and values. Very recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Razzak
Format:Kindle Edition
I've read some of Butler's punchy writing on SB Nation like his piece on Manny Pacquiqo ([...]) and have such respect for Butler's ability to lay out facts, pertinent background information, a very broad but enlightening layered context of relevant personalities, and using his magic with insight and words, turn it all into absolutely fascinating reading. No need to be interested in boxing to find yourself compelled into a world rich with human drama, Butler will dazzle you with that. Throw Cuba into the mix, and this just has to be a Must Read!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing writer, an astonishing story June 6, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Brin-Jonathan Butler is an astonishing young sportswriter. He’s interviewed Mike Tyson in his home, got the last interview with Cuban boxing hero Teofilo Stevenson before his death, filmed renowned coach Freddie Roach and recorded beautiful, crazy human smuggler Gary Hyde, bringing a profound compassion for his subjects that seems to have opened many doors. Here, he’s entranced by boy-wonder Rigondeaux, and followed him all over the globe after he defected on a smuggler’s boat from Cuba.

But this book is much more than the tale of an Olympic champion giving up his home for the American Dream. With a sure hand and a whole lot of courage, Butler takes the reader inside both the dream and the nightmare of America and Cuba, showing the cost in broken hearts on both sides. The writing bleeds bright red, despite the frequent wit and humor, and seeps into you and both warms and chills. Mainly, this book pulses with life and humanity, and is not to be missed. It’s a whole lot of fun, too.
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