Amateur boxing star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez abandoned the Cuban national team during a training camp this week in Aguascalientes, Mexico, a possible step toward his defection in pursuit of a professional career.
The Cuban Sports Institute reported the information on its website on Thursday, saying Ramirez, whose whereabouts were not known, was “turning his back” on the team.
Ramirez, 24, won the 2012 flyweight Olympic gold medal in London and the 2016 bantamweight Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro, defeating American Shakur Stevenson, a fellow southpaw, in the closely contested final.
Ramirez is the second Cuban Olympic boxing medalist to abandon the team this year. In March, 21-year-old Joahnys Argilagos, who received a bronze medal in 2016 and claimed a silver medal at the 2015 Pan American Games, defected. He left the team during a tournament in Mexico.
The Cuban amateur team has been an Olympic boxing powerhouse for many years, winning 73 medals, including 37 gold, 19 silver and 17 bronze.
But many of Cuba’s Olympic boxers ultimately fled the team, defected and turned pro, including Joel Casamayor, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Odlanier Solis and Yordenis Ugas. Other Cubans, such as Erislandy Lara and Luis “King Kong” Ortiz, didn’t win Olympic medals but were amateur standouts who also defected and have gone on to have successful pro careers.