Cuban boxer killed in shootout adds second Olympic gold with a ball
Fortunately, La Cruz was not seriously injured when he was held up in Cuba and shot in the hip, and won light heavyweight gold two years later in Rio.
Now 31, he put the trauma further behind him by adding Tokyo Olympic gold when he unanimously defeated Russian Muslim Gadzhimagomedov.
But he said it took a while to recover from the attack.
“What happened was difficult, but I never gave up hope and had to heal for a while,” said la Cruz, four-time light heavyweight champion.
“But the Cuban doctors have done a wonderful job and thanks to my hope, my faith, my family, the Cuban people and the psychologists who have supported me, I am here today.
“I was able to get both of those titles, and I think I deserve it.”
Where is this bullet that could have ruined his career and even cost him his life?
“My mother has it in remembrance of what happened,” he said.
The elusive and cunning Cruz, who is nicknamed “the Shadow”, collapsed face down in the ring on the announcement of his victory against Gadzhimagomedov.
La Cruz refuses to settle for a double gold medal at the Games.
“Paris (2024) is only three years away. I will go to the next Olympics and try to win a third gold medal for my country,” said the proud Cuban.
In the men’s lightweight semi-finals, there was a disappointment for Australia’s Harry Garside, a certified plumber who also enjoys ballet and sported painted fingernails after his bout in the quarterfinals.
The 24-year-old unanimously lost points to impressive Cuban Andy Cruz, but Garside still wins bronze – Australia’s first Olympic boxing medal in 33 years.
Cruz faces 22-year-old Keyshawn Davis with the talented American to a victory of a first Olympic gold in men’s boxing for the United States since Andre Ward in 2004.
Davis defeated Armenian Hovhannes Bachkov unanimously in an eventful encounter that saw the two fighters fight twice against the canvas.
“I looked forward to fighting this guy all day because the whole tournament he was walking around with his chest all big, thinking he was scary and the biggest and baddest fighter,” Davis said.
“I still love to fight bullies – I beat the bully today.”
In the women’s middleweight, Britain’s Lauren Price – who is also a footballer who has represented Wales – narrowly defeated Dutch boxer Nouchka Fontijn on split points and will face China’s Li Qian for gold.
With two more days of boxing in Tokyo, Cuba has won three gold medals in the sport, that of the Russians and that of Japan. Eight other titles remain to be decided.