Front Door to Cuba

Cuban Sports Timeline

1866 - 1961 | 1962 - 2006


June. Sailors from an American ship docked in Matanzas Bay invite Cubans to play a game called baseball.


Esteban Bellan becomes the first Cuban ballplayer to play for a professional U.S. team. Major League team. He plays for the Troy Haymakers and then the New York Mutuals.


December 27. Cuba's first baseball game takes place at Palmar de Junco, in Matanzas. The team from Havana defeats the team from Matanzas by a score of 51 to 9. Emilio Sabourin scores 8 runs for Havana.


Emilio Sabourin, who played for Havana, organizes Cuba's first professional baseball league. [Sabourin is an active supporter of the Cuban independence movement and dies in a Spanish prison in 1897.]

December 29. In the first game of island's first baseball championship series, the Havana team defeats the Almendares team by a score of 21 to 20.


The Havana Yacht Club is founded. The club sponsors and organizes races, regattas and swimming competitions.


At the Olympic Games in Paris, Ramon Fonst wins the gold medal in sword fencing. This is Cuba's first medal at the Olympics.


Boxing is admitted as an Olympic sport.

The All Cubans, a racially mixed baseball team, plays in the U.S. Negro League.

At the Olympic Games in San Luis, Cuba wins 10 medals, including 5 gold medals in fencing.


The Cincinnati Reds baseball team plays in a 4-game tournament in Cuba, and becomes the first major league team to travel to the island. Cuban José Méndez pitches 3 consecutive shutouts against the Reds.


January 6. Eligio Sardiñas, aka Kid Chocolate, is born in El Cerro, Havana.

Ex boxer John Budinich opens the Academia de Boxeo in Havana.


August. In Havana, John Budinich holds a boxing exhibition against American Jack Ryan. Budinich is knocked out in two rounds.


Cuba's National Baseball Amateur League is founded. The Vedado Tennis Club wins the first league championship.


Havana hosts the heavyweight title fight between Jack Johnson and Jess Willard.


The Havana Boxing Committee is formed. This is Cuba's first professional boxing association.


Now in Cincinnati, the Cuban Stars (West) become the first Negro League baseball team to play their games in a major league park (rented for a whole year).

The National Commission of Boxing & Wrestling (Comisión Nacional de Boxeo y Lucha Libre), a regulatory body, is established.


October 11. Oscar Levis pitches the first no-hitter of the 20th Century for the Cuban League.


January 6. Gerardo Gonzalez is born in Havana. He later becomes known as popular boxer Kid Gavilan, with a professional record of 107-30-6 (28 KOs). In 1990 he is inducted into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame.


December 8. Kid Chocolate makes his professional boxing debut in Havana. He defeats Johnny Cruz by a decision in six.


Kid Chocolate

August 5. Kid Chocolate (pictured) defeats bantamweight Eddie Enos.

August 29. Kid Chocolate defeats the famous Al Singer.


January 1. Jimmy "Cool Papa" Bell becomes the first baseball player in the 20th century to hit 3 home runs in the Cuban league.


March 15. The stadium La Tropical (today's Pedro Marrero) is inaugurated in Havana.

August 7. Jr. Welterweight champion Jackie Kid Berg defeats Kid Chocolate in 10 rounds.


The Pan American Sports Organization is established.


March 14. Boxer Benny "Kid" Paret is born in Santa Clara.

March 14. Boxer Luis "El Feo" Rodriguez is born in Camagüey.

December 21. The first night baseball game in Cuba is played at Tropical Stadium.


Ten players are selected to the new Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame.


Havana Cubans

April 13. Jose "Mantequilla" Napoles is born in Santiago de Cuba. His final professional record is 77-7 (54 KOs). In 1990 he is inducted into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame.

August. The first meeting of the Pan American Sports Congress is held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Buenos Aires is picked as the location for the first Pan American Games in 1942. Due to WWII, the games are not held until 1951.


December 2. Ultiminio "Sugar" Ramos is born in Matanzas. His professional boxing record: 55-8-3 (40 KOs).


April 19. Boxer Jose Legra is born in Baracoa. His professional record is 133-12-4 (48 KOs).


June 5. In Havana, Kid Gavilan wins his first professional boxing match against Antonio Diaz.


October 26. The first baseball game at the new Grand Stadium del Cerro is played.

November 1. In his first fight on American soil (NYC), Kid Gavilan defeats Johnny Ryan by knockout in 5.


July 12. Havana Cubans pitcher Conrado Marrero throws a no-hitter against the team from Tampa.


At the Olympic Games in London, Cuba wins a silver medal.


Cuban ballplayer Orestes "Minnie" Miñoso begins to play in the U.S. major leagues.

Cuba wins the first Caribbean Baseball Series.

July 11. Ray Robinson defeats Kid Gavilan in the World Welterweight title in Philadelphia.


The first Pan American Games are held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Over 2,500 athletes from 22 countries participate.


February 4. Kid Gavilan successfully defends his World Welterweight title in Miami against Bobby Dykes.

March 29. Teófilo Stevenson Lawrence is born in Puerto Padre.

October 5. In Havana, Kid Gavilan successfully defends his World Welterweight title against Billy Graham.


February 11. In Chicago, Cuban boxer Kid Gavilan knocks out challenger Chuck Davey in 10 to retain the World Welterweight title.

September 18. In Syracuse, NY, Kid Gavilan defeats Carmen Basilio to retain the World Welterweight title.

November 13. Kid Gavilan successfully defends his World Welterweight title in Chicago. He defeats challenger Johnny Bratton in 15 rounds.


April 2. Carl "Bobo" Olson defeats Kid Gavilan in Chicago for the World Middleweight title.

October 20. In Philadelphia, Johnny Saxton defeats Kid Gavilan for the World Welterweight title.


The Pan American Sports Congress (which controls the Pan Am Games) changes its name to Pan American Sports Organization (PASO).


The first American Gold Glove Award for outfielders goes to Cuban Minnie Miñoso.


August 2. Boxer Jose "Mantequilla" Napoles wins his first professional fight (over Julio Rojas) by knockout in 1.

September 20. In Havana, Luis "El Feo" Rodriquez defeats Kid Fichique for the Cuban Welterweight title.

October 11. Napoles knocks out Eurispide Garica in 4.

November 29. Napoles knocks out Felix Pomares in 2.


Sugar Kings, Cuban Baseball Team

July 24. Fidel Castro pitches 1 inning for "Los Barbudos" (The Bearded Ones) in an exhibition game prior to a professional game between the Sugar Kings and the Rochester Red wings. Attending the game are 26,532 spectators.


February 27. In Havana, boxer Ultiminio "Sugar" Ramos defeats Orlando Castillo for the Cuban Featherweight Title.

May 27. In Las Vegas, Benny Paret defeats Don Jordan for the World Welterweight title in a 15-round unanimous decision.

December 10. In New York, Benny "Kid" Paret defeats Federico Thompson in 15 to retain the World Welterweight title.

Cuban Orestes "Minnie" Minoso leads the U.S. majors in hits (184).

Alcides Sagarra founds the Cuban School of Boxing.


April 1. In Miami Beach, Benny "Kid" Paret loses the World Welterweight title to Emile Griffith. Paret is knocked out in 13.

September 30. Benny "Kid" Paret regains the World Welgerweight title by defeating Emile Griffith in New York. Paret wins by decision in 15.

December 9. In Las Vegas, Benny "Kid" Paret knocks out Gene Fullmer in 10 for the World Middleweight title.

The team from Cienfuegos wins the last Cuban Professional League championship in baseball.

1866 - 1961 | 1962 - 2006

Cuban Boxing | Cuban Boxers | Professionals