Nocaut| 1hr : 02mins
Director: Stefano Knuchel and Ivan Nurchis | Producer: Amka Films Productions
Focus Years: 2004 | Country: Switzerland
In 1910 the Chilean boxer John Budinich ended a long professional career in the United States and moved to Cuba, where he set up the islandâ€™s first boxing school in Havana. For almost the next half century (1910-1958), Cuban boxers fought under the professional code. The era produced the first great home-grown talents, such as Kid Chocolate, but it was also a period of ruthless exploitation, with a long list of fatalities in the ring.
In 1959 the communist revolution outlawed professional sports. The result was the great Cuban school of amateur boxing, which has dominated international competitions since the late 1960s down to the present day.
As the first century of Cuban boxing draws to a close, to look back on its history and the stories of the men who made it is to find a new perspective on the troubled history of the Caribbean island, avoiding the rhetoric of a politicised point of view.
Cuban boxers, by their discipline, strength and unusual life stories, have kept alive a continuous tradition across two entirely different and conflicting political systems, from the post-colonial epoch to the socialist plan. In so doing, they have shown that the life blood of any society is the people who live in it, whatever the political direction imposed from above.
The lives of Cubaâ€™s boxers, as well as telling the history of their country, also invite us to reflect on moral questions of relevance here in the West, too: the importance of discipline, the real value of prosperity and the chance to make oneâ€™s own way in the world.
This documentary film takes its viewers to a Cuba that is a long way from the usual stereotypes, highlighting the sharp contrast between deeply-rooted human values and the backdrop of a totalitarian regime. It is also a picture of a historic period that seems to be drawing to a close, as shown by the young boxers who still hold the old traditions in high esteem, but who also have an ever stronger desire to open up to new ways of living in their society. The historical value of the documentary is enhanced by the exclusive personal testimony of Fidel Castro, speaking in front of the camera for the first time about the role played by sport in his project for Cuban society. Castro talked openly and at length about his own involvement with sport and his contacts with Cuban boxers.
Nocaut paints a large-scale picture of the human and sporting sides of Cuban life, using exclusive interviews with all the major players in Cuban boxing, past and present, with never-before-seen archive footage rediscovered in private collections and film shot on locations that were previously off-limits, such as the La Finca â€œfactory of championsâ€.
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