Fidel Castro Steps Up Pressure On Families Of Arena’s Boxing Stars

Hamburg, July 31st 2007 – They only wanted to be free, now their families have to suffer from it. Cuba’s “maximo lider” Fidel Castro steps up pressure on families and friends of arena’s stars Odlanier Solis, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Yan Barthelemy and the freshly signed Erislandy Lara and Guillermo Rigondeaux. As reported from Cuba there have been temporary imprisonments, houses and cars which were given to the Olympic Champions for their achievements have been confiscated..

Solis, Gamboa and Barthelemy were shocked when they heard about the reprisals. They don’t want to comment on the incidents as they fear further attacks on their families. But why are the three Olympic Champions who defected last December object of the actual encroachments?

arena-CEO Ahmet Öner: “On Cuba there have been rumours that Solis, Gamboa and Barthelemy helped Rigondeaux and Lara escaping from the team. That is a lie. Rigondeaux and Lara defected by themselves. It took some days until they tried to get in contact with us. It was not arena who ‘got them out’ with anyone’s help. They wanted to leave and they wanted to come to us. That’s a fact.”

With official sanctions on Cuba the ‘dispute’ between Ahmet Öner and Fidel Castro reached a new level. Rumours say that there are members of the Cuban military intelligence service in Germany observing arena’s environment.

Öner: “In the first place I found it quite funny that Fidel Castro seemed to attack arena. But now it’s getting serious. I cannot understand why our athletes, their families and friends are threatened and persecuted just because they fight for us. The guys just want to do what they do best: boxing and earning money for themselves and their families. We are giving them the chance to do so. How can that be considered a crime? Nobody should be terrorized for wanting to live their live in peace and freedom. It’s harassment like this that makes Cuba a state without the rule of law. Freedom and human rights should be respected all over the world including Cuba.”