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Runaway boxers to be deported back to Cuba
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11:35, August 04, 2007

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Cuba's champion boxers Erislandry Lara and Guillermo Rigondeaux, who abandoned their delegation during the Pan American Games, will be deported back to their country, Brazilian Federal Police announced on Friday.

The athletes were found on Thursday in the municipality of Araruama, Rio de Janeiro state's northern coast. They were accompanied by two entrepreneurs, one of whom was also Cuban.

According to the police, they are expected to return to the Caribbean island as soon as Cuba's government sends back their passports and there are seats available on a fight to Havana.

Since the two disappeared from the Pan Am Village on July 22, there have been several hypotheses over what happened to them. According to rumors, they would have left to Paraguay, which was proved to be false on Thursday.

Additionally, Germany's sports agency Arena Box Promotions was believed to have hired the boxers, a version that was later confirmed by the company's owner, Ahmed Onar.

The possibility generated attacks from the Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who released a statement saying that a German "mafia" made use of psychological methods and millions of U.S. dollars to steal boxers from Cuba.

The German agency's attorney in Brazil, Rafael Vilhena, said that Arena offered the two athletes "regular contracts between promotion companies and boxers, like all others around the world."

On Friday, Rigondeaux, 25, and Lara, 24, were taken to a hotel in Rio's metropolitan region, but their exact location was not revealed in order to prevent Arena's agents from approaching them, said the police.

Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the bantamweight division, and Lara, a world half-middleweight champion, were some of Cuba's most promising assets in the Pan Am Games which was held between July 13-29 in Rio, but they abandoned the boxing team before their first fights in the competition.

Along with two other desertions, that was regarded as the main reason for the anticipated departure of 200 delegation members in the evening before the end of the Games, which was later denied by the Cuban Olympic Committee.

That was not the first time that Cuba's boxing stars fled the country. Bantam Yan Barthelemy, flyweight Yuriorkis Gamboa and heavyweight Odlanier Solis, all of them gold medalists in 2004 Athens Olympics, abandoned the team in Dec. 2006 when participating in a competition in Venezuela. They were hired by Arena Box Promotions, which currently relies on five Cuban boxers on its portfolio.

Source: Xinhua

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