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"Homeland or Death" La Cruz stressed, after rejecting the slogan promoted by the U.S.-based conservative groups.
During one of the 81 kg quarterfinal bouts at the Tokyo Olympics, Cuban boxer Julio Cesar La Cruz shouted "Homeland or Death! We´ll win" after finishing the fight against Emmanuel Reyes, an athlete of Cuban origin who competed for Spain.
La Cruz, who got a gold medal in Rio Olympics in 2016, won on Friday in a split vote of the judges, four of whom saw him victorious, in front of a single one who voted against him. The Spanish team boxer was very upset with his defeat and claimed that the judges' decision was political.
Besides being the captain of the Cuban team, La Cruz has won top titles in the Pan American Games held in Guadalajara (2011), Toronto (2015), and Lima (2019). He was also proclaimed the best athlete in the Americas by the Association of National Olympic Committees in 2013.
La Cruz had beaten Reyes on several occasions before the latter changed his flag and decided to join the Spanish team. After today's victory, La Cruz will face the Brazilian athlete AbnerTexeira in the next semifinal.
This is the second time that two Cubans have stepped into an Olympic ring representing different countries. Previously, in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympic Games, Lorenzo Sotomayor, who was competing on behalf of Azerbaijan, defeated Yasniel Toledo, who was representing Cuba.
Sotomayor, who competed in Cuba in the national championships of Pinar del Rio province, then won the first Olympic silver medal for boxing in his new adoptive country.
At the Tokyo Olympics, Cuba’s boxers Roniel Iglesias (69 kg) and Arlen Lopez (81 kg) secured two bronze medals by defeating the U.S. athlete Delante Johnson and the Mexican Rogelio Romero respectively.