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July 12th, 2011
Victory Is Your Duty

About the Issue

In the past seven Olympic Games, Cuba, an island nation with a population of 11 million people, has dominated the sport of boxing: 63 medals, 32 of them gold. Boxing has held a special place of honor in Cuban society since the revolution, not least because Castro has deployed the nation’s athletes as an unconventional tool of foreign and domestic policy. Sport propels the nation onto the world stage – allowing it to break out of economic and political isolation into a very public and superficially apolitical arena. While the country has never had the military might to challenge the U.S., it has found a way to compete inside the ropes of the boxing ring. Now, as Castro’s faltering health has thrown the future into question, Cuba’s athletes, as well as the rest its citizens will face a crucial time of transition. While the shift of power from Fidel to his brother Raul seems to have gone smoothly, there are some indications that changes in economic policy may lie on the horizon.

About the Film

WIDE ANGLE gains intimate access to the Havana Boxing Academy on the outskirts of Cuba’s capital. There, from the tender age of nine, boys hand-picked as future Olympians are molded into soldiers of the ring. They live and train at the academy with a single purpose: to bring home Olympic gold. Victory Is Your Duty follows the boys’ dramatic path over eight months of training, schooling and boarding as they build up to the biggest event of their lives — the annual National Boxing Championships.

For the summer 2009 re-broadcast, WIDE ANGLE host Aaron Brown travels to Miami, Florida, to tell the story of what happens when graduates of Havana’s boxing academies grow up – and defect to the United States. The boxers tell of the triumphs and obstacles they faced in Cuba and continue to face as they pursue a professional career in the rough-and-tumble world of American boxing.

This episode of Wide Angle is the precursor to the theatrical film Sons of Cuba.

  • Paea Wolfgramm

    I would love to purchase a copy of this series and any others on the cuban sports program. Please tell me how I can do so.

  • edmund li

    How can I view the video? it use to be on here but it seems like it has been taken off. please put it back on? thanks

  • Nancy

    I also suggest that and hope that “victory is your duty” be put back for online viewing. I’ve much about it and wish to see it soon. Thank you.

  • Andrea Tilbury

    I’ve shown this video to my Spanish students last school year, as I love to incorporate cultural stories. I’ve tried accessing “Victory Is Your Duty” recently online and have been unsuccessful. Please make available…thank you!!!!!!

  • Camilo Lopez

    I am Cuban myself, born 1960, raised in Havana and living in the states since 1995.

    I wonder who this “ANDY” GOMEZ person is. He was mistaking Guantánamo with Santiago de Cuba!?!?! He literally said:

    “How about 100,000 Cubans rush into Guantanamo Bay in Oriente in Santiago de(l?) Cuba?”

    There is simply no way Cuban people would mistake Santiago de Cuba with Guantánamo! Even the ecosystem of these two places is so different!

    At least, and not as a way to sympathize with the Castros’ dictatorship, but I would applaud his opinion about the sick politics of the US primarily against the Cuban people and admitting that before the Castro brothers, economical, political (and moral) corruption (as well as repression against political dissidents) in Cuba was rampant; way more than there is right now

    Cuba has always been, since Spanish times, the subject of some bullsh!tting and sickening political obsession by “super powers”/imperialistic metropolis. I hope one day Cuba will be able to be a country where civility reigns and they would just leave us be

  • Camilo Lopez

    Something really amusing was the constant enlivening, energizing/relaxing and very affectionate joking around, both ways, from Bonachea (their coach/teacher) to the kids and the kids with their coaches. That was a touching in a really nice way, that is pretty much impossible to translate
    ¿Cómo le gusta al monito que le digan? (What do little monkeys like to be called?)
    ¡Echa campión! (Way to (or (more like) -there you-) go champ!)
    Cuban people do joke around a whole lot, in fact many people that know us well consider that to be the most Cuban trait “el choteo” (there isn’t even a translation from Cuban Spanish to the English language. I would dare to say not even to the Anglo culture) with the irresistible need to mix everything, religion, food, music, races, …
    Do you remember the face of the pope when he visited Cuba, while he was watching the way people practice Catholicism mixed with all kinds of African yoruba elements? He was like … what the ~bleep~ is this all about?!? ;-)
    Cuban people use teasing as a way to show they care for you. They would even joke around during a funeral (as a Cuban comedian said “funerals happen to be so bad, because they don’t rehearse them well ;-)”).
    My sister teases her children and as an answer they tease her back in very articulate ways. Since both my nice and nephew were born in México, Méxican people would roll their eyes in disbelief when they saw this. Thinking it was confusing to the kids for her to talk like that to her children and disrespectful for them to talk back to their mother in a teasing way … They love and respect each other very much it is just the way they interact with each other
    At some point I stopped doing that here with Anglos, because they get very upset, but I think this friendly teasing is much better than therapy sessions. Teasing/joking around is very healthy emotionally and strengthening morally

  • Andrew Lang


    Andrew Lang, director, Victory is Your Duty / Sons of Cuba

  • Tomasz


    Much sympathy must be sent to Cuba. They have been under economic sanctions and embargos for years. It is by the grace of God Almighty that they have been able to survive for this many years and still have available the moral and logistical strength to provide healthcare to the masses, schooling etc…

    Events like the Olympics are places where nations obtain noteriety and publicity. If Cuba is able to defy the attempts of the sanctions and embargos to make it weak and make the people suffer, then it will have shown that it is resilient. That must be the logic behind the “Winning is the duty” attitude.

    The main thing to do about Cuba is to stop all santioncs and embargos. It has no bearing on the olympics, but it is something that the “Humanitarian” nations in the world must do in order not to be hypocrites and double standard people. I am of course refering to America, the one that put the sanctions and embargos on Cuba.

    It is not known by the masses, but, the sanctions on Cuba have resulted in the people of the nation using cars from the 1940s and relying on throw away parts from nations like Argentina in order to repair and maintain them.

    Whenever Cuba is mentioned, the sanctions and embargos that are causing poverty and continued destitution and stifling any hope that Cuba can remain a nation with a populous and not corporate and consumerist ideology.

  • Deborah

    I enjoyed the film mostly and felt that the commentator/narrator exibited much negative bias. He rarely mentioned anything positive without following up with a ‘but’and how could he miss the outward expressions of affection shown between coach and kids as well as parents and the kids. Cubans are poor, yet there does not appear to be despair. The fighting spirit, the level of education, the discipline of the people and their ability to remain strong in spite of the embargo are traits that our country could benefit from. I think we should re-establish relations, lift the embargo and get on with our lives.

  • Deborah

    Interesting film. Looking forward to seeing the follow-up on the embargo.

  • errol caprino

    On the caribbean island (St.Martin) Sint Maarten, we are working on the realization of a national community t.v. station by the People, for the People and to enrich the People. We like broadcast also feature films and documentaries with relevance to the caribbean man, woman and children and we like to broadcast “Victory is Your Duty” and other productions. Can you help us? Do you sell them ? Please react. Thank you
    Errol Caprino, TV/Theater director/Producer.

  • Anita Chavan

    I need guidance for my student who is good at boxing.plz guide us regarding funds available and courses.



  • feltzr

    Thank you for your interest, Ismael. Some of our programs are available for purchase, but it does not appear that Victory is Your Duty is among them.

    Our apologies for the inconvenience.

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