Dunmore natives, Brian McAndrew and Bill Ciccotti were quarantined recently on a cruise ship near Miami, Florida.
Both men are fine and very healthy. But the ship was detained temporarily as a precaution against the Covid 19 virus.
Brian and Bill were in Cuba to observe local boxing matches and do a bit of groundwork in an attempt to bring several young Cuban boxers to the States, hopefully for a few Philadelphia and New York bouts.
Bill told us, “It’s a ton of red tape and now the health issues are causing havoc.”
Brian added, “It’s a long shot, but hopefully things will work out successfully.”
Leo Chavez, a boxing promoter and their Cuban connection, was very instrumental in orchestrating the Cuban side of this operatic operation. Leo proudly said, “Cuba is a land of magnificent architecture and passionate, enthusiastic people.”
Tropical fisticuffs, old cars, rum bars, and Spanish guitars were calling the Dunmoreans deeply into a sweet Latin embrace. And yes, they hit all the great night spots.
Brian smiles, “Sloppy Joe’s, La Floridita, El Dandy’s, The Coco Cabana, to name just a few.” But it wasn’t all fun and games.
Bill replied, “Okay, Brian enjoyed talking with several girl boxers while I sparred with Coco Crispy at El Dandy’s Bar in Havana. Nobody got hurt. Coco pulled his punches, thank God.”
The next day, Cuban boxing promoter and Hemingway lookalike Pablo Hernández with his middle weight champion Kid Castro, showed up. Bill Ciccotti and Brian McAndrew intensely tried to organize a possible stateside match for Castro.
Bill shared Cohiba cigars with Kid Castro while Brian McAndrew spent some time driving a classic 1950s green convertible with two female boxers, Angelina Gomez-Rodriguez and Sophia Ortega.
Bill laughed, “It’s not the first time Brian ditched me in Cuba. But he always returns, eventually.”
At the Rafael Trejo Gym in the outskirts of Old Havana, Bill Ciccotti continued negotiating stateside boxing possibilities and hopeful match cards.
Bill lamented, “Too soon it was time to leave the land of sweet sugar cane.”
Brian shook his head, “And it all went downhill from there.” Several days of aimless floating at sea, and finally the boys were released. Everything tested out fine and they were given full medical discharges.
“Captain Von Helbing met with us.”, Bill says.
Brian laughed, “We were offered free cruises in the future. I’d need to think about that before I agreed.”
He quickly added, “But Cuba, well, now that’s a no brainer. Tropical sun bakes you lovingly and sea breezes caress you passionately. Laughter and fine memories surround you,. Cuba is a trip back to the 1950’s in all its magnificent glory. Detroit chariots of the Gods and the finest cigars around are there for the tasting.”
Bill nodded knowingly and encourages others to make the visit, “What are you waiting for? Get yourself over there before it all changes. Cuba won’t remain lovingly trapped in the fabulous 50’s forever.”