Brin-Jonathan Butler's work has appeared in ESPN.com, Deadspin, The Wall Street Journal, The Rumpus, and The New York Times. Brin has also written, directed, and produced the forthcoming documentary Split Decision, which examines Cuba and the United States through the lens of elite Cuban boxers faced with the decision to remain despite the lure of millions, or chase the American Dream from a smuggler's boat.
A writer goes to Cuba in search of Guillermo Rigondeaux and some truth about the athletes who stay in Cuba and those who leave. Instead, he finds Cuba: that is, Cubans and Cuban things and, um, horny people. A reprint from TheRumpus.net.
Guillermo Rigondeaux was one of Cuba's very best fighters before he finally succeeded in defecting in 2009. He has also been one of its saddest, and an emblem of a wise but thwarted and incurably sports-mad society that's quietly at war with itself, and losing.
When Mike Tyson was only 18, his managers used to market him on posters, reminding you that if your grandfather had missed Joe Louis, or your father Muhammad Ali, don’t you miss Tyson. But what they didn’t mention was that Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali were a boy’s dream of a fighter. Before long Tyson understood his customers a little better and modified the sales pitch. Tyson figured out, in his era, that America really craved a nightmare.
After he won gold in Montreal in 1976, American promoters offered Cuban heavyweight Teófilo Stevenson five million dollars to turn pro and challenge Muhummad Ali. He refused.
He said of the offer, "What is one million dollars compared to the love of eight million Cubans?"