Cuba boasts more Olympic gold medals (34) for boxing than any other country in the world.
But there’s a catch: women can’t play a part in this international sporting success.
That’s right – the Caribbean island country has a nationwide ban on women’s competitive boxing, a ban that is still in existence to this day.
Cuba is falling forward and winning gold medals, but plummeting behind the rest of the world with respect to its attitude towards women in the boxing ring. It’s due to this gross inequality that most of us have never even heard the name Namibia Flores Rodriguez, despite her sensational boxing abilities.
Thanks to Stockholm-based director Maceo Frost and his new short film Namibia: Cuba’s Female Boxing Revolution, we finally have a glance into the “tireless battle of Rodriguez, the only known female boxer in the Caribbean nation.”
“Boxing is a sport for men only,” says Namibia. And she’s right – 2012 was the very first time that the Olympic Games featured female boxers.
“All the sacrifice is not worth it…Women are not strong enough for boxing,” she’s told.
With fire in her eyes and unmatched intensity radiating from her very being, Rodriguez is shown training at Havana’s Rafael Trejo Arena in defiance of the nationwide ban. She takes on the same regime as her male counterparts – circuits, lifting truck tires, you name it – but this “without the hope that she might one day represent her country.”
It’s unfathomable. It’s devastating. But it’s also motivating AF. The fact that Rodriguez is still competing at age 39 – a year away from the current Olympic age limit – gives me hope, and makes me want to keep fighting and pushing forward everyday.