Despite limited proficiency in Chinese, Cuban native Armando exchanges boxing techniques seamlessly with Chinese students.
Armando, born in 1975, served as a member of the Cuban national boxing team. His boxing career in Cuba spans several decades, transitioning from boxer to coach. His trainees have achieved gold medals in world championships, reports Xinhua.
Fascinated by movie star Bruce Lee and elements of Chinese culture, Armando developed a fondness for Chinese Kung Fu films from a young age.
A chance encounter with a Chinese boxing coach at a competition in Cuba led Armando to China. He embarked on his coaching career in 2016, leaving a mark across Shandong, Chongqing, and Heilongjiang.
“Cuba possesses a rich boxing culture and history, and I aim to bring Cuban boxing techniques to China,” stated Armando. He has successfully mentored numerous boxers, some of whom have clinched titles in national competitions.
Although Armando frequently changes his training locations from Shandong to Chongqing to Harbin, students from various regions consistently seek his boxing training.
“His technique is intricate, and his patience is commendable,” said Xu Longfei, the head of Longfei Boxing Club in Binzhou City, Shandong Province. Xu journeyed thousands of miles to Harbin, aspiring to enhance his boxing skills through Armando’s training and teach his boxing gym apprentice.
While Armando’s command of Chinese is not fluent, his instruction through demonstration and actual combat with Xu has yielded fruitful results.
To augment his training, Armando even patented a uniquely designed punching bag outfitted with boxing gloves. Unlike standard punching bags, his invention sways from side to side using pulleys, simulating an authentic combat experience during training.
“Boxing serves as a bridge of communication. Through me, many individuals have not only gained insights into Cuban boxing but also Cuban culture,” said Armando, who is planning his own boxing gym in Harbin.
He stated that he also acquired a deeper understanding of the Chinese through his venture.
“Chinese fighters are exceptionally agile and courageous. The Chinese people have extended immense enthusiasm and support to me. I even plan to document the community where I live and the individuals who have assisted me through video,” he added.
Cuba’s climate is warm, yet Armando loves Harbin’s winter. “My first encounter with snow was in Harbin, and the food and architecture here have captivated me,” Armando noted. His wife Dariuska, a former Cuban track cyclist, also relocated to China to support his career.
“I’ve only returned to Cuba twice over the years, but through my introduction, more Cuban coaches have been invited to China to teach boxing,” Armando disclosed.
He observed that numerous Chinese individuals have been living and working in Cuba over the years, and the growing exchanges between the two nations have fueled his determination to chase his dream.
“Armando is very kind-hearted and humble, and he possesses a dream,” commented Zhang Hongchi, chairman of Heilongjiang Huanlong Sports Culture Development Co., Ltd. Zhang collaborates with Armando to increase awareness about Cuban boxing techniques.
“I aim to establish boxing gyms in other regions of China and strive tirelessly to elevate the skill level of Chinese athletes and boxing fans. I also hope for increased interactions between the Chinese and Cubans,” Armando concluded.