Otros deportes

Cuban boxer returns to island for 1st time since 2006 defection

Havana, May 7 (EFE).- Cuban boxer Yuriorkis Gamboa, who won a gold medal for his homeland at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, returned to the Communist-ruled island this week for the first time since defecting in 2006 and embarking on a pro career in the United States.

"Since I got off the plane it's been one emotion after another. I'm not exaggerating when I say I felt like all of (the eastern province of) Guantanamo was standing up to welcome me," Gamboa wrote on Facebook on Tuesday, saying that would likely be his only message from the island.

Sports officials in Guantanamo, Gamboa's native province, confirmed to Efe Thursday that Gamboa unexpectedly visited several regional boxing facilities in recent days.

"He's in Guantanamo. He was at the EIDE (Sports Initiation School) on Tuesday, and on Wednesday he was here at the (boxing) academy," the trainer of that province's team, Victor Sanchez, Gamboa's former mentor and teammate, told Efe.

Sanchez said he spoke with the boxer and explained that the island's regulations "limit" his access to those facilities, adding that Gamboa merely wanted to "see the teammates he left behind."

A source from the National Sports Institute's delegation in Guantanamo also confirmed to Efe that Gamboa stopped by that agency's offices on Tuesday to greet the directors.

The 33-year-old Gamboa, nicknamed the "Guantanamo Cyclone," won the gold medal for Cuba in the flyweight category at the 2003 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro before capturing gold for his homeland in that same division at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

In late 2006, he defected while training in Venezuela and eventually traveled to the United States after stops in Colombia and Germany.

His achievements as a professional include holding the WBA featherweight title between June 2009 and June 2011 and the IBF featherweight title between September 2010 and March 2011.