By James Crook

150170334April 26 - Cuban boxers will compete professionally for the first time since 1962 when they take their place in the International Boxing Association's (AIBA) World Series of Boxing next season, which kicks off in November this year.

Professional boxing was effectively banned in Cuba over 50 years ago due to former leader Fidel Castro's belief that the professional sport was both corrupt and corrupting, while authorities there deemed it is too unsafe.

The Caribbean island has a rich boxing history, and are currently the second-most successful nation in Olympic boxing history behind the United States, despite having a population of just over 11 million.

This season's WSB will conclude next weekend at the 9,000-seater Saryarka Velodrome as Astana Arlans Kazakhstan host Ukraine Otamans in the WSB team finals.

The fourth edition of the series, which will see Cuba make their debut, will begin in November this year.

"We are extremely pleased to welcome Cuba to World Series of Boxing", said AIBA President and WSB Board chairman C K Wu.

"With a total of 116 world medals and 67 Olympic ones, Cuban boxers have always lived at the pinnacle of our sport.

150215462Flyweight Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana was one of Cuba's two gold medallists in boxing at London 2012

"Following the USA, Mexico, Germany, Great Britain, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and now Cuba, the competition is present in all of the main boxing nations in the world.

"We are convinced that this new franchise will bring WSB to an even higher level."

Cuban Boxing Federation (CBF) President Alberto Puig de la Barca spoke of how the WSB will enable fighters from the country to hone their skills further at a higher level and give them more of an advantage against these opponents for major events such as the Olympics.

"It is our duty to help our athletes develop their careers as far as possible", he said.

"Our best boxers will compete in WSB over seven months against the world's cream of the crop.

"This will offer them the chance to get a taste of the styles of other world class athletes and thus be better prepared to face them in the Olympic Games, Pan-American, Central American and World Championships.

"We are pleased to join.

"We are satisfied with the organisation and with the humanist principles of protecting the boxers that have been developed by WSB.

"For all of these reasons, we are willing to contribute to the quality of the competition."

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