Despite the economic hardships Cuba has endured in the last few decades, they have been able to create excellent world-class sports programs. Unlike most Central American and Caribbean nations, it’s not strange to see Cuban Olympic champions in many different sports. It’s no exaggeration to say that Cuba absolutely dominates the Central American and Caribbean Games every four years. In the last edition of the Pan American games, only the United States, Canada, and Brazil won more medals than them.

One of the sports Cuba excels at is wrestling. In the last World Championship, Cuba placed eighth, taking two gold medals and an additional unofficial one thanks to naturalized Cuban wrestler Frank Chamizo.

This amazing photo essay by photojournalist Alexandre Meneghini shows a rarely seen picture of Cuban athletes, who are most often seen in the in the top of world sports fighting for medals in their Adidas uniforms. The picture shows the old gym and facilities in general, but also manages to capture the enthusiasm, effort, and discipline that serves as base for eventual elite athletes.

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers--ro_3111485k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers--st_3111534k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers--te_3111535k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers-bou_3111481k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers-FIN_3111563k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers-gir_3111479k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers-gir_3111509k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers-gro_3111467k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers-gym_3111503k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers-hea_3111524k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers-lif_3111556k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers-pul_3111537k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers-spr_3111554k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers-ste_3111445k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers-tra_3111540k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers-wei_3111505k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers-you_3111469k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

cuba-wrestlers-old_3111530k

Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters