Roniel Iglesias added her name to Cuba’s Olympic boxing hall of fame after winning a second gold medal on Tuesday, when the fighters expressed their determination to get more girls into the sport.
Iglesias, 32, held a masterclass to defeat British hopeful Pat McCormack by unanimous points and claim the welterweight title in style in Tokyo.
Iglesias has now won three Olympic medals, adding Tokyo gold to his London 2012 light welterweight gold and bronze in Beijing 2008.
In doing so, he joins a stellar cast of Cuban boxers to seal a hat-trick of Olympic boxing medals. They also include Felix Savon (three golds), Teófilo Stevenson (three golds) and Lázaro Alvarez (three bronzes).
Iglesias, who failed to win a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, said he does not plan to stop there and is already watching the 2024 Paris Games.
He said that after the injury and his disappointment in Rio, some people in Cuba had ruled it out.
“There are always fans who have their opinions and it is true that many people thought that Roniel would not make it at these Games,” he said.
“A lot of people said that this was the end of the line for me.
“But only boxers know what is happening, we know the injuries we suffer and what we have to overcome.
“I always knew I had it in me. Now those skeptics have been shown to be wrong and those who believed in me were right. “
The knockers spurred him on, Iglesias said.
“It was an extra push for me to get up every morning and put in that extra effort,” he added.
The female medalists come out fighting
In the women’s competition, Sena Irie became the first Japanese woman to win Olympic gold in boxing with a unanimous points victory over Nesthy Petecio of the Philippines.
Women’s boxing first entered the Olympics in London 2012, when there were only three weight classes, but there are five in Tokyo and women’s boxing is more popular than ever.
But female boxers say more needs to be done.
Irie highlighted the challenge that female boxing still faces to be recognized in some countries and the stereotypes that persist, saying that some people have the impression that female fighters “are violent, scary or aggressive.”
“That’s not the case,” said the 20-year-old local fighter after winning the featherweight title, the first boxing gold of games delayed by the pandemic.
“I want to erase those aggressive images of boxers.”
Irma Testa, the bronze medalist from Italy, echoed that challenging message.
“I can only say that I am very proud,” said the 23-year-old, who had also made a small part of boxing history in her country.
“Winning a medal was very important to me to make women’s boxing more popular in Italy.
“So it is the first medal for women’s boxing (in Italy), and with this medal I can show young Italian women that boxing is also a sport for women, not just for men.”
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