Second Effort

Cuban boxing legend Luis Ernesto Delis arrives in Miami and rekindles his dreams of the ring

It was in 1994, at the height of the so-called special period of dire hardship, when balseros were washing up on Florida beaches like jellyfish, that Delis and three friends hatched a plan to steal the Dumar, the tugboat on which he worked, and sail it to Florida. They never had a chance to act on the idea though. “There was a chivato,” Delis recounts. “You know, a spy. One of our friends turned us in.” Two of Delis's three accomplices, military officers, received longer sentences than he; the other went to prison for four and a half years. Delis hasn't been in touch with any of them since.

No one knows how much of his old brilliance Luis Ernesto Delis can recapture
Steve Satterwhite
No one knows how much of his old brilliance Luis Ernesto Delis can recapture
At age sixteen Delis (left) fought as part of the Cuban national team at a 1982 amateur competition in Reno, Nevada
photo Courtesy Luis Ernesto Delis
At age sixteen Delis (left) fought as part of the Cuban national team at a 1982 amateur competition in Reno, Nevada

Currently he's assiduously preparing for his second professional fight, to be scheduled in the next few weeks. He gets up every morning (except Sunday) at 5:00 to run. His refrigerator is stocked with vitamins and protein supplements he says he couldn't find in Cuba. He has a new and experienced trainer. And like his Cuban fans in Miami, Delis refuses to consider his debut outing a defeat. “I'm happy because I fought to the best of my ability,” he asserts matter-of-factly. “The other guy was good, but I hit him better and he knew it. He knew I won, and I know I won.”

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