OVERRIDE

A Cuban Boxer's Journey

Guillermo Rigondeaux, from Castro's Traitor to American Champion

Brin-Jonathan Butler

Picador

THE STORY OF CUBAN BOXER AND POLITICAL PARIAH GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX'S HARROWING DECISION TO DEFECT IN HOPES OF REAPING THE REWARDS OF THE AMERICAN DREAM

“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.

REVIEWS

Praise for A Cuban Boxer's Journey

“As fascinating as Rigondeaux's story is, and it is certainly fascinating, the book's merit is in its peephole into Cuban society and the discussion of moral obligation that Cuban athletes have when deciding to leave....You don’t have to be a boxing fan to enjoy Butler’s book. The discussion of sport takes a back seat to the fascinating cultural insight and comparisons to American culture.”—Vice

“Thoroughly reported and carefully crafted.”—Newsday

“A subtle and powerful examination of Cuba, as seen through the eyes of its most celebrated boxers. Filled with memorable characters caught in the middle of an existential struggle.”—Steve Fainaru, Pulitzer Prize–winning coauthor of The Duke of Havana: Baseball, Cuba, and the Search for the American Dream

“This is something very special.”—Leon Gast, Oscar-winning director for When We Were Kings

“[A Cuban Boxer’s Journey] is a nuanced, deep, compassionate study of a subject too often boiled into simplicities, too often seen in black and white, too often used to forward agendas—left and right—that too often ignore the crushing human costs. Brin-Jonathan Butler’s story does just that by traveling, interviewing, and critically eyeing Cuba’s boxers at home and in the States, methodically unpacking the loss-imbued choice they all face. It is an invaluable document.”—S. L. Price, author of Pitching Around Fidel: A Journey into the Heart of Cuban Sports

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Brin-Jonathan Butler

  • Brin-Jonathan Butler is a writer and filmmaker. His work has appeared in ESPN Magazine, Vice, Deadspin, The Wall Street Journal, Salon, and The New York Times. Butler’s documentary, Split Decision, is Butler’s examination of Cuban-American relations and the economic and cultural paradoxes that have shaped them since Castro’s revolution, through the lens of elite Cuban boxers forced to choose between remaining in Cuba or defecting to America.
  • Brin-Jonathan Butler Troy Turi
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BUY THE BOOK

Available Formats and Book Details

A Cuban Boxer's Journey

Guillermo Rigondeaux, from Castro's Traitor to American Champion

Brin-Jonathan Butler

  • e-Book

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

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