“So, at age 12, boxing comes into my life,” current Massachusetts resident and ascending pro boxer Luis Pita Oliva says.
“While I was at school, several coaches were going to look for new students, they showed a video and they asked you if you wanted to enter that sport.
”I told them I didn't like it but I didn't have a head for anything else. This was a way to look for a different life than the one I had. Yes, videos of the Olympics impacted me.
At my dad's house and my mom's they said it’s a crazy sport, because who would let people hit them?
I told the head I want to be a boxer, but in the beginning, I didn't train, I was a child, I was just looking for a place where I could rest calmly,” he says, as was referenced in Part 1.
“I asked, when I can go to that “specialty” school, he told me you have to win a competition…but you don't train!
So I trained a little and they told me this year, no, you can't go to that competition because they ask for experience at least two years and you don't even reach one year. So wait two more years, they suggested, and I got very angry inside, because I said maybe in two years I’ll be dead.
“I went to see the competition because others of my team were fighting,” Luis continued. He edged into a tournament as a sub, and got whipped.
“They beat me very easy. One foe was champion of my city and I barely won my neighborhood fights. That’s because first you win in the neighborhood then against the gym and then against other cities. But, what they saw was my courage in the ring. Only I knew that I was fighting to be free.
The boxing school there were six vacancies to enter and I was the seventh entrant. A mother of one said, ‘I don't want you to go because I don’t like boxing’ and she took it away so I could get in, I was happy.
I went to my house, I looked for my suitcase and went to live on “The Farm.” That was the name of the first school, but on the weekends I still had to continue seeing my family.
I thought that everyone had problems like me and that's why they were there. Then there was a meeting and everyone said they liked boxing. They talked about their victories, their medals, that they had been in boxing for three years. I realized that the only one who was there because of a situation like mine was me.
But at least I had some calm and I could concentrate my mind on the real problem of making my own life, creating my own destiny. I kept working on the weekends, sometimes one day sometimes two, as a painting assistant, a horse assistant, cleaning, selling things, taking products from one place to another, etc. I got to be 15 and I had some money.
I was more focused on leaving the country but I needed a permit.
I asked my mom if she would let me leave the country and she told me “no,” with such an arrogant and smiling voice.
I understood that I was like a prisoner who had no right to anything. I began to understand everything better because she always said no. Maybe when I grow up everything changes, I thought.
And then I met the best person in my life, one of my coaches, the most important and influential person in my life. A person who treated me like a son, plus the first person who had faith in me, who saw something that no one saw.
He saw me alone, isolated from people, because I needed to be alone to be able to think about the future and the small steps I would have to take to be able to be free to live a life.
He approached me, he sat next to me, he told me that I didn't seem like the rest of the young athletes. Because everyone was thinking of impressing to win, to have girls and that's what they talk about.
It didn't make me feel happy to be alone, yes, and my coach was getting me to talk about life, since I didn't talk to almost anyone.
I was always quiet and didn't share what I thought with anyone.
I was the one who sat alone at the table to eat.
Coach was the man from whom I used to buy peanuts from him, only that I realized long after I saw where his house was. He introduced me to his family, and we started to connect. I started to go to his house, to help me with my schoolwork and he put a lot of ambition in my head.
He talked to me about the greatness of the things he would have wanted to do and he couldn't win the time.
So I started to let go a little with him. He told me about the principles of being a better man, to be better human, to help people.
All that happened because he saw that I had no evil in my heart.
He already said that he was my dad.
One day he told me I feel something strange with you, because with me, you're happy but with your family, you’re always serious.
He knew me, he had met all the versions of me, so I told him what was happening in my house. And he was silent for a long time.
I thought he wouldn't believe me but he knew that I would never lie with a thing like that.
One thing is to joke, but he knows that I wouldn't joke. Then, after awhile, he took me to a lawyer to see if he could have custody of me, but the lawyer told him that it's Cuba.
It wouldn't be so easy, my mother would have to accept that and we knew that she wouldn't do it. So he told me, ‘Luis. I'm already old. I hope you could leave this country.’
I began to like boxing because I had someone who I knew would support me, that would be for me and that if I failed, he would help me get up and become stronger. I had more attachment and just when I thought that everything had gone from crazy to tranquility, he died.”
Luis stayed on the fighting path, as he tried to adjust to the loss of his beloved coach.
“I was where I had to be in the number one school in the country, with the stars that everyone idolized from many sports. They appeared in the newspaper on TV,” he recalls.
“I had problems with everyone, it felt like it was me against the whole group, no one supported me.”
He fought, learned, experienced what he deems unfair treatment, backbiting, yet soldiered on, bumpily. He spent six months on a thesis to graduate Grade 12 as a “physical culture technician.”
“I wanted something different for my life,” Luis says. “I didn't want to be like anyone in my family. I didn't want to be a conformist, I don't want to live in a country where you can't have anything, where to have a lot is a crime, where thinking different is wrong, where you have to be like the others.”
Part 3 features specifics on the trek from Cuba to now, as Luis Pita Oliva counts down to his March 9 bout in Massachusetts, atop a Reyes Boxing Promotions event