The Cuban government announced on Monday that women will be allowed again to compete competitively in the realm of boxing, ending a six-decade prohibition on the sport for women that started with the ascension of its government.

Officials related to Cuba's National Institute for Sports announced that they will be lifting restrictions for women to compete in boxing that have been in place for decades, before announcing that they will be having a competition of 42 women boxers to narrow to a 12-woman team, according to NPR.

The communist government of Cuba had banned professional sports 60 years ago, and only recently has been lifting the restrictions to allow athletes to compete professionally. In May of this year, male Cuban boxers found themselves making a professional comeback in Mexico after officials allowed them to compete in the sport.

The rules for not allowing women to compete in boxing has been controversial, and it has forced many Cuban women to migrate to other countries in order to be able to compete in the sport. Pedro Roque, the former head coach of Cuban’s boxing team, once said that women “are there to show their beautiful faces, not to take punches,” the Japan Times reported.

It is also controversial because of how women in Cuba are allowed to compete in other pugilistic sports like wrestling, weightlifting, karate, taekwondo, and judo with little restrictions.

But the new family code, which has been well-received for expanding marriage rights to LGBTQ individuals, has also established a firm line of equality between men and women, which has caused the government to reconsider the restrictions for the first time in decades.

The date when women will be allowed to compete–and if they can compete professionally has not been announced, but the lifting of restrictions itself has been met with excitement by many female boxers in the country. “Saying that boxing is not for Cuban women – that's always been the problem,” boxer Cala Massó said. “Where we are now, we never thought we would get here.”

The team that is being assembled by the Cuban government will compete first in the Central American and Caribbean Games in El Salvador, a stepping stone for the team to potentially compete in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Cuba Sanctions in the West Rep. Pic
Representation image. Ricardo IV Tamayo/Unsplash.

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