Feature: Cuban boxing champion crosses ocean to foster talents in Xinjiang

By Sun Zhe (Xinhua) 11:21, March 26, 2024

URUMQI, March 26 (Xinhua) -- At a boxing ring nestled under the majestic Tianshan Mountains, Dagoberto Capote moved deftly, demonstrating swift punches to his Xinjiang disciples.

Despite his age of 56, the Cuban coach radiated boundless passion, exuding energy akin to that of a youthful boxer stepping into the ring for the first time.

Capote gestured enthusiastically, blending Chinese phrases like "jiayou" (keep going) and "champion" with Spanish, continuously encouraging his team to excel in every aspect of their training. Under his contagious spirit, the intensity of training escalated, fostering a fervent atmosphere.

"Passion runs in the blood of every Cuban, and it's inherent in us," he said proudly. "A good coach not only possesses professional knowledge, but also knows how to keep the boxers passionate and positive throughout training."

During his boxing career, Capote was a distinguished athlete and national champion. Upon his retirement, he became a coach out of his love for the sport, imparting his knowledge in Cuba, Venezuela, and now in China's Xinjiang.

Last June, following numerous recommendations, Capote and his compatriot Luisbey Sanchez crossed the oceans to take charge of the senior and youth divisions of the Xinjiang boxing team.

Boxing enjoys a traditional stronghold in the region, with youths of Kazakh, Uygur, and other ethnic groups actively participating. Over the years, Xinjiang has produced numerous outstanding athletes like Mehmet Tursun Chong and Tohtarbek Tanglathan, with their remarkable results in various international competitions.

Upon arriving in Xinjiang, Capote admitted that he felt huge responsibility due to the region's illustrious boxing history. He integrated new training philosophies and methods while reinforcing his athletes' weaknesses.

"Our boxers have excellent physical attributes, but I focus on enhancing their skills to make them more well-rounded," he explained.

After each training session, Capote meticulously rewards his athletes with sweets, aiming to continuously boost their confidence and motivation.

His dedication quickly paid off, as Xinjiang clinched three golds, one silver and one bronze in the National Championship last December, a sign of remarkable progress.

Being thousands of miles away from his loved ones, Capote's homesickness occasionally emerges.

However, he has adapted to life in Xinjiang. Whether enduring the cold winter or sampling cuisine, which is vastly different from his homeland, Capote sees these experiences as a unique chapter in his life. He constantly took photos during his travels across China to share glimpses of his experiences with his family.

The coaching staff and athletes have become his trusted "Chinese family." After nearly a year of close interaction, he regarded his disciples as his sons.

During a bout of acute gastroenteritis for Capote one night, his disciples anxiously rushed to their master's aid and provided him with meals.

"Coach is passionate in both training and life. I am grateful for his help to me," boxer Alikut Qahar expressed.

"Loneliness is inevitable, but I came to Xinjiang with a goal," said Capote. "Since everyone trusts me, I must do my best to help Xinjiang boxing achieve better results."

In recent years, Cuban coaches like Capote have found ample opportunities for their development in China. Besides the national team, provincial boxing teams in Henan, Shandong and Anhui have also enlisted Cuban coaches.

Capote often encountered his old friends at various competitions. Though emotions run high upon their meeting, once their athletes step into the ring, everyone adopts a serious demeanor.

"Once we step into the boxing ring, we are opponents. But outside the ring, we become friends again," said Capote.

"I hope our presence can elevate Chinese boxing to the top tier globally," he remarked with his belief that China is improving rapidly in the sport. "If possible, I'm willing to stay in Xinjiang to continue coaching indefinitely."

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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