2004 Cuban Boxing Gold Medalists-Solis, Gamboa And Barthelemy-Defect To US To Start Pro Careers

06.03.07 - Cuban Heavyweight Odlanier Solis, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist, two-time Pan Am Champion and three-time world amateur champion, along with Cuban nationalist teammates Super Bantamweight Yuriorkis Gamboa, a 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist, 2006 World Cup Champion, and Flyweight Yan Barthelemy, a 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist and former world amateur champion, defected to the United States late last week and announced today at a press conference at David's Café in South Beach, Miami, Florida, that they would pursue their professional boxing careers under the tutelage of Miami-based attorney and manager, Tony Gonzalez, and German promotional companies, Arena Box Promotion and First Artist..

The fighters agreed in unison that a defection was necessary to pursue their professional dreams. It is the first time a Cuban Olympic gold medal heavyweight, considered a vital sportsman in his country, had made the decision to leave the national team and fight professionally. "After winning every major amateur title, I knew that I only had one last challenge, and that was becoming Heavyweight Champion of the world," said Solis. "I feel a loss leaving my country but I am ready to turn professional and work towards obtaining that goal."

Barthelemy and Gamboa both agree with the decision. "We are extremely excited about finally beginning our professional careers," Barthelemy said. "It has always been a dream of mine to become a World Champion and now I have a strong chance to make that happen."

"These past two months felt like two years," Gamboa said. "But thankfully we are here, and we now look forward to starting our new careers and fulfilling goals as professional fighters."

Gonzalez was on a scouting trip at the Central American and Caribbean Games, when he first learned of the Cubans interest in talking to him about turning professional. Upon his return he continued to hear about the fighters and in December, was contacted again after hearing of their decision to remain in Venezuela, where they were training for preliminary tournaments prior to the 2007 Pan American Games. Gonzalez then worked with NY-based attorney Pamela Faulk, a law professor by trade and frequent on-air political analyst, to obtain P-1 work visas for the trio prior to their arrival in the States.

While securing their entrance, Gonzalez spent several months reaching out to both top American and European-based boxing promoters, looking for the best deal possible. Having had negotiations with both Golden Boy Promotions and DiBella Entertainment, who expressed strong interested in the group, Gonzalez, with the consent of the fighters, reached an agreement with two German based promoters—Arena Box Promotions and First Artist. As part of the agreement, the Cubans will fight both stateside and in Germany for the beginning of their careers. Their pro debut is forthcoming and will take place in Miami, in a joint promotion with Miami-based All-Star Boxing.

"I am delighted it all worked out, the fighters arrived in the United States safely and see the beginning of their professional careers on the horizon," said Gonzalez. "I look forward with the help of Arena Box Promotions, First Artist and All-Star Boxing to making their dreams realities."

"We are excited to have the opportunity to work with this stellar group of fighters," said Ahmeed Ohner, President of Arena Box Promotions. "We feel confident that they will be extremely successful as professionals and make a tremendous impact on the sport of boxing."

Odlanier Solis and Yan Barthelemy are both natives from Havana, Cuba, while Yuriorkis Gamboa is a native from Guantanamo, Cuba.

The fighters will travel to Germany this week to be introduced by Arena Box Promotions to the German press and boxing community.

Article posted on 07.03.2007

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