Julio César La Cruz, eager to go back to the ring
Julio César La Cruz, eager to go back to the ring
The two-time World Boxing champion, Julio César La Cruz, has been away from the ring for almost two months now. On the forth of January La Cruz got hit by a firearm while leaving a recreational facility in his hometown Camagüey; luckily, his recuperation has been very rapid. America’s best boxer of 2013 can’t wait to put his gloves on again and his awaited return is now scheduled: The 28th of February he will be fighting a boxer from the Baku Fires of Azerbaijan, at the Coliseum of the “Ciudad Deportiva” (sports city) of La Habana, in another match of the forth Boxing World Series.
La Cruz is only 24 years old. Boxing has been part of his life since an early age, and his mom, Ana de la Caridad La Cruz Peraza, played an important role in making this happen. The young fighter’s talent, discipline, dedication and will power, made La Cruz a star of the “Escuela cubana de boxeo” (Cuban school of boxing).
Do many memories come to your mind every time you step on the ring?
Yes, a lot. When you are not from La Habana, you have to make more effort to make it to the national team. My first trainers were Reinaldo Toledo and Yuri Triana. Later on, I joined the “Escuela de Iniciacion Deportiva Escolar” EIDE (School of Sports Foundation) in Cerro Pelado de Camagüey. The four times national champion, winner of all the junior categories, La Cruz, has a boxing style that shows good technique, with good movement and defence on the ring.
Who are your main influences in boxing?
I have really studied Lorenzo Aragón’s style and technique; I also like Mario Kindelán and Adolfo Horta. I have studied them, and even if what I do doesn't look like their style it does have certain similitudes.
From your two World Titles, Baku 2011 and Kazakhstan 2013, which one is more meaningful to you?
The first one in 2011, because it was my first time competing in an event of that magnitude, and even though you always go with the intention of wining, you are not always expected to. However in 2011, I showed the world, and myself that I could do it, and I defeated the best boxers in my division. In 2013, I had more experience, I knew how to handle fights better on the ring, and this made the experience somewhat easier.
2011 was a year of success for Julio César. Not only did he win the already mentioned World Title, but also the Panamerican Games of Guadalajara, Mexico, the first place on the 81 kg World Ranking, and the awards of best Boxer in America and best athlete in Cuba. Then, 2012 was dreadful. He was the favourite candidate for the gold medal in the London Summer Olympics, yet he surprised fans and specialists when he lost to the Brazilian Yamaguchi Falcao in the quarter finals.
What happened in the London Olympics?
That is a bitter experience that I have erased from my memory. Life has shown me that a man can fall, but gets stronger every time he stands up. Thanks to my mom, Raul Fernández, and the psychologist Julio Ordoqui’s support, and to all the people that trusted me, Julio Cesar La Cruz, I came out of that rut.
How influential has Raúl Fernández been in your sports career?
Throughout my career I have had several coaches, that have taught me a lot. There’s Reinaldo Toledo, Yuri Triana, Arístides Peralta, Ramiro Basulto, Pedro Roque, and Ramón Beltrán who was the one who taught me the boxing technique of hitting without getting hit; but coach Raúl Fernández is the dad I never had. He has never been wrong about what he has taught me, and if I’ve accomplished anything, it’s been thanks to his experience and to the advice he gives me.
In january 2014, there was an assault in Camagüey. La Cruz was the most affected by it, he got hit by a bullet and as a consequence, had to go into surgery.
How is the recovery going?
I’m fine. I have done everything the doctors, and coaches have told me to, with the necessary will power and discipline. I want to thank all the staff of the Frank País hospital here in La Habana, and the priest Manuel Ascunce in Camagüey, they all took care of me. I would also like to thank the police authorities and the president of the Sports, and Physical Education Institute.
This incident prevented La Cruz from fighting various matches for the ‘Domadores’ of Cuba, leaders of the B group of the Boxing World Series. Until the day of the accident, Julio César had two victories, over Pawel Stepien (from the Hussars of Poland), and over the Croatian Hrvoje Sep (from the Astana Arlands of Kazakhstan).
When will you be back to the World Series ring?
On the 28th of February I will have my first match against Azerbaijan. I am training hard because it will be an special event, since I will be playing for the first time here at the Coliseum of the Sports City, with an exited yet demanding, I have to give my best.
What do you reckon will happen at the Rio 2016 Olympics?
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but so far I’m doing very well an if I keep doing what my coach tells me to, I should get there in my best shape; however, the priority now is to go for the more immediate competitions: the World Series, and the Centro-american games in Veracruz.
Outside of the ring, who is Julio Cesar La cruz?
I really like to study, read, watch tv, take walks and talk to different people. Also, every once in a while I go to my hometown Camagüey to see my mom and my four year old daughter, Channet Velicia La Cruz Reyes.
Happy with the results of the cuban “Domadores” in the Boxing World Series, Julio César La Cruz Peraza waits eagerly to fight again. In the meantime, sitting at a bench outside of the outside of the coliseum of the so called “Ciudad Deportiva”, the champion supports his teammates, who in their most recent match beat the Astana Arlans of Kazakhstan in a solid 5-0, and managed to stay at the top of the B group.
Biography of Julio César La Cruz:
World Champion first in Baku, 2011, in 81 kg, defeating the native of Kasakhstan Adilbebk Niyazymbetov in the final. And also in Almaty, Kasakhstan, 2013, by beating the same rival as in 2011 in the final.
Champion of the Panamerican games of Guadalajara, 2011
Four time National Champion (2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013)
Three time champion of the international tournament “Giraldo Córdova Cardín” (2010, 2011, and 2012)
Best boxer in America in 2011 and 2013, an award given by the Pan-american Boxing Federation.
By Yodeni Masó / M.Gómez. PanamericanWorld. La Habana