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Split Decision’ Shows Boxers’ Tough Choices About Leaving Cuba

Famed Cuban boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux made the decision to leave Cuba to pursue his dream of making it as a world-class fighter, while other boxers like Teofilo Stevenson decided not to leave their homeland. Their very different choices - and outcomes - are at the heart of Split Decision, a film by Brin-Jonathan Butler which is being shown at the 3rd Annual Shadow Box Film Festival December 5th and 6th in New York City.

"My documentary "Split Decision" examines Cuban-American relations and the economic and cultural paradoxes that have shaped them since Castro’s revolution, through the lens of elite Cuban boxers forced to choose between remaining in Cuba or defecting to America," said Butler to NBC News Latino. Butler has also written a book on the topic.

Butler, who is also an amateur boxer, became fascinated by the topic when he was at a boxing gym in Havana and got a chance to train - for very little money - with a boxer who turned out to be an Olympic-medal champion. Butler, who also wrote a piece published in Salon, said the central question that fascinated him was the following - why would some Cuban Olympic gold medal- winning boxers defect for money, while others rejected it all and stayed in Cuba? As Butler shows, these decisions are not easy.